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FIA GT1 San Luis: Championship Race Report

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Hexis AMR ruled in San Luis. Fred Makowiecki and Yann Clairay added their first Championship Race victory of the year to their earlier Qualifying Race triumph in San Luis and the team's second car claimed third – enough for the team to claim an improbable second on the teams' championship.

It was a demonstration of how to win a race from Makowiecki and Clairay. The former had started the car from pole and held onto the lead way from the rolling start as Clivio Piccione in the no.10 Hexis car followed him up through turns two and three, Richard Westbrook slipping back to third in the Matech Competition Ford GT.

Once more Piccione played a perhaps unwitting rear gunner for his teammate as – just like in the qualifying race – a train of cars formed up behind him. Westbrook was first in line, followed by Frank Kechele in his Reiter Lamborghini and Peter Dumbreck's Sumo Power Nissan, but while Westbrook was able to break free with a diving move into the hairpin at turn 16 Dumbreck was soon to begin a difficult afternoon for the British Sumo Power squad, which had arrived in Argentina with their own designs on second place in the teams' standings.

Dumbreck's lazy spin at turn 19 dropped him out of fifth, enough to leave his co-driver Michael Krumm fighting outside the top ten once the German took over the no.23 GT-R. Krumm would briefly power a renaissance in the second half of the race, highlighted by passing both Tomas Enge and Christopher Haase in a three abreast move into turn four.

But Krumm's taking the scenic route around the track's second chicane was the first sign of the power steering problem that would force their retirement. The sister car followed into retirement soon after when Warren Hughes brought the no.22 car into the pits with gearbox ills. The double DNF would drop the team to sixth in the teams' points table.

Second place for Westbrook and Mutsch was enough to secure the German as Vice-Champion

Now with Clairay at the wheel the lead was extended, Mutsch with no answer to the Frenchman's pace as he extended the lead right into the closing laps, the official winning margin just over 13 seconds. Jonathan Hirschi came across the line third, with Brazilian Sergio Jimenez fourth in the Reiter Lamboghini driven earlier by Kechele. The combined 40 points scored by the Hexis crews putting them second in the team’s points after beginning the weekend in a distant fifth.

“It has been a great weekend for Hexis and the Aston,” said Makowiecki, who claimed third in the points after his perfect weekend. “The car was really strong on this circuit which is quite tricky and new for a lot of the drivers and the teams. I got a good start and just tried to keep a good pace going and we were lucky enough to build a lead and keep it until the end. I have to thank all the guys at Hexis as they did another great job this weekend and for the whole season.”

Mutsch's second place was enough to lift him back into second place in the drivers' championship above the Young Driver AMR pairing of Tomas Enge and Darren Turner.

“It was a really pleasing end to the season for me to finish second in the race today and to finish second in the drivers' championship,” Mutsch enthused. “I am really pleased for Matech that we were able to finish on a high. I knew I had a hard job to do to finish second in the points. When I looked at the prognosis for all the drivers and which cars were strong at which circuits there were are a lot of possibilities coming to Argentina so to drive so strongly this weekend is a nice feeling.”

After starting tenth Turner had slipped back out of the points scoring positions never to return – the 40kg of extra weight coupled with another slow pitstop ruining their race at the end of a strong season.

The second YD AMR car fared very differently.

Staying out longer than most in the race Jose Maria Lopez had clawed the car up from the back of the grid to hand over to Stefan Mucke well inside the top ten. The German then showed his own pace to end the race in fifth after passing Marc Basseng's All-inkl Lamborghini on the final lap, Basseng scoring his first points of the season in the final race of the year.

However, the ten points claimed for fifth was not enough to stop their Hexis brandmates from taking second in the teams' chase, though the combined scores of the two teams were enough to prevent a Maserati clean sweep of the titles as Aston Martin took the SRO Trophy for Manufacturers.

The newly confirmed champions – Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini – finished seventh, thus completing their enviable record of scoring in every weekend on their way to the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship.

The second Matech car of Neel Jani and Nicolas Armindo finished eighth, ahead of the no.33 Hegersport Maserati and the second Reiter Engineering car.

The Swiss Racing Team Nissan that had shown so well in the Qualifying Race was unable to keep up the pace in the second race. The car dropped out of the top ten in the first half of the race before two separate incidents – the first minor contact with Enge in the Aston and the second more substantial contact with the tyre barriers – ended their race prematurely.

Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini: FIA GT1 World Champions

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