Faced with the challenge of entering into the realm of endurance racing for the first time Hexis AMR is bringing a “dream team” of six drivers to the inaugural Blancpain Endurance Championship. The squad's two cars will run in the GT3 Pro Cup class.
“We're taking up this endurance challenge with a lot of humility,” says team manager Philippe Dumas. “We don't have much experience, so we've got everything to prove against teams that know it inside out. We've left nothing to chance in our pre-season preparation to help stack the odds in our favour. We've now got a really top-class technical squad; they're runners-up in the world championship; they showed what they could do last year during tyre changes.”
The six drivers Hexis will call on for the 2011 campaign, however, come from the GT3 and GT1 series the team are more familiar with, having been part of the former since 2007.
Gilles Vannelet and Henri Moser, who will drive one of the cars, were crowned GT3 champions that year after a successful season driving a Ferrari. They will be joined by Fred Makowiecki. The Frenchman has been a long standing part of the team, driving for them in GT3 competition since 2007, eventually helping the squad claim the teams' title in 2009 before graduating with the team to the GT1 World Championship last year, where he drove against new teammate Moser.
“Our three drivers in the lead team have already gelled,” said Dumas. “The car's progressed as well, and those who drove it in the past will realize this very quickly. I'm very happy to continue the adventure with Fred Makowiecki. At Nogaro [testing] he showed us once again just how quick he is. We'll be rivals in GT1 and he's going to give us a hard time! But as our team's very strong, he's also going to have to roll up his sleeves if he wants to beat us!”
The second car will be crewed by three more drivers familiar with the team. Pierre-Brice Mena finished runner-up in the drivers' points with the team in 2008, a feat repeated by Julien Rodrigues a year later. Yann Clairay completes the all-French team, staying with the team after closing 2010 with a double race win in the final meeting of the GT1 World Championship.
Though much of the experience of all six drivers lies in the 60-minute races for the FIA series, Hexis' line-up includes three men – Vannelet, Moser and Clairay – who have claimed class podium places at the 24 Hours of Spa. Clairay is also Le Mans Series champion and Le Mans 24 Hours class runner up in GT1.
This is all the more relevant with the Blancpain Endurance Championship counting this summer's 24 Hours of Spa as the centre point of the year's racing which also includes rounds at Silverstone, Monza and Magny-Cours.