FINALE OF THE FIA GT SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP IN AZERBAIJAN: The "Baku World Challenge” kept its promises !



Our team was present with the 2 McLaren MP4-12C GT3 and 4 top drivers :

The belgian drivers, Frédéric Vervisch and Stoffel Vandoorne, on the McLaren #22

The Dutch driver, Stef Dusseldorp, winner of the 2012 edition, and the English driver, Alexander Sims, on the car #15.

Pics of the week :

1) The installation of the stands

2) Race numbers : 15 & 22. Amazing parade in the streets and in the centrum of Baku city. The police cars were followed by Thierry Boutsen, back in Formula 1 for the week-end, and by 28 GT3s !

3) The press conference followed by the visit of Mr Ahad in our stand

4) Qualifying sessions of Saturday :

Qualif 1 : P2 Sims/Dusseldorp - P3 Vervisch/Vandoorne

Qualif 2 : P5 Dusseldorp/Sims - P7 Vandoorne/Vervisch

Qualif combined and starting grid for the qualifying race (1) :

         - P3 Sims/Dusseldorp

          - P7 Vandoorne/Vervisch

Qualifying race :

McLaren #15 - Stef Dusseldorp and Alexander Sims finishes P4.

McLaren #22 - Fred Vervisch et Stoffel Vandoorne finishes P12.

The results of this race decided the grid for the main race.

5) Main race :

#22 : Fred Vervisch started from P12 and was leading the race after 1 lap.

He stayed in 1st position during the first half of the race, but 1 lap before the planned pit-stop, his McLaren stopped because of electrical problems (it looks like an alternator failure), and had to abandon the race ! ! We could have had a good result at Baku, even with the penalty for cutting the chicane !

#15 : The other car got a drive through for cutting the chicane but Sims and Dusseldorp finished P8, without technical problems.

6) We really enjoyed the speed of our 4 drivers, the sprint races of FIA GT, and this amazing week in Azerbaijan !

7) A special thanks to Mr Ahad - of AzTexnika - for this event !

8) Frédéric Vervisch : "We were leading the race, after a great first lap, but had to retire after 30 min due to electronical failures.. Feeling sorry for the boys.."

Stoffel Vandoorne : "The main race was very disappointing for us, sadly. We were leading the race after a few laps but had to withdraw following an electronic problem on the car. I did not even have a chance to run in the car during this race so it was so frustrating! The start of the second race saw a bit of a mayhem, and a lot of things happened so it was good that Frédéric took the lead, even if unfortunately I could not drive.

At the end of this weekend, I can say that it was a very good experience for me; it was my first time driving in the FIA GT Series. I got better and better during the weekend and I really enjoyed it. Frédéric and I know each other so well and I was very glad to race with him and also for the Boutsen Ginion team, representing McLaren! In the future I hope to be driving Formula One, but maybe after my F1 career it would be fun to race in GT again, as I really enjoyed this weekend.

I must also say that Baku is a wonderful city. It is very cosmopolitan and friendly with some awesome buildings. I am sure it will become an important event as it grows in the future."

9) Alexander Sims : "I feel very happy to have been involved in such an exciting race weekend in Baku. It started very well in practice, getting lots of laps in practice despite the sessions getting cut short due to track alterations in the morning. Then in qualifying everything came together and I was able to be 2nd fastest in my session. It was challenging as we had 2 red flags and I only had one clear lap with tyres up to temperature but thankfully I was able to get a clean and fast lap in. Overall it put us 3rd on the grid as one car went quicker in the second session. Being the top McLaren in qualifying was great for the whole team, we had worked hard to get there. The first race went quite well but not perfectly. Stef did a good first stint and held 3rd position comfortably, then we had a clean pit stop and after 1 lap the Hexis McLaren came out of the pits just in front of me. They had undercut us with a very good job in the pits. I almost overtook for 3rd place on the next lap but then a safety car came out and neutralised the race. When it went green again there was not another chance and we finished 4th. I was quite happy with this as it meant we started 4th for the main race and all was left to play for.

Then at the start of the main race, I was driving and I got sandwiched going into turn 1 and was hit from both sides. After this I had a big vibration and a loss of grip. Nevertheless we stayed in the race and in the top 5 until the pit stop. It was an ok stop but immediately afterwards the stewards handed us a drive through due to my first corner as the alleged that I had cut the chicane and gained an advantage. I really had no choice in my position but that’s the way they interpreted it, so Stef had to serve a drive through and it ruined our race. He fought valiantly back to 8th position which was some consolidation but we knew that a podium was certainly possible so ended very disappointed.

The weekend was great fun though and only the final result let us down. I would love to go back again next year and make the story have the right ending!

Stef Dusseldorp : "It was a pleasure to work with the Boutsen Ginion Team. The weekend in Baku was full of challenges, but we made the best of it and showed good speed during qualifying and the races.

I had a pretty good stint in the qualifying race, keeping my third position while fighting the Audi in front of me and BMW behind me. We were unlucky with the safety car coming in and losing a postion, but a good preperation for the championship race.

The start of the championship race was very bad for us, getting hit on both sides of the car. To make it worse, we got an unfair drive through for getting an advantage at the start mayhem. Dropping back to P14, I got a mega race overtaking people and lapping faster then a lot of cars around me finishing P8. In the end, not the result we hoped for, but we showed good pace and what the team is capable of!

NEXT MEETING : DUBAI 24 HOURS : 8 -11 JANUARY 2014 - Drivers line-up to finalize. Infos will follow.

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