Hexis Racing MP4-12C GT3 at the first round of the FIA  GT1 World Championships, Nogaro, France

The two Hexis McLaren MP4-12C GT3s got into Q2, but problems with the starter on Stef Dusseldorp/Fred Makowiecki’s car halted any progress. In the meantime, Alvaro Parente qualified eight position for Q3, which gave confidence to the team’s engineers.

The two cars were in eighth and fourteenth places on the grid for the Qualifying race, the first of the season, but an incident on a wet formation lap meant only car no. 2 driven by the Gregoire Demoustier/Alvaro Parente duo started the 60-minute event. Parente thrilled the Hexis fans with a series of overtaking manoeuvres and got up to third place before handing over to Demoustier. The team carried out the best pit stop of the whole field and the young Frenchman ( Demoustier) rejoined in second place. He avoided all the pitfalls of a drying track, and took the flag in 4th place, just 7 seconds behind the winning Audi.

Lady luck wasn’t smiling over the Hexis Racing team the next day for the Championship race. Frédéric Makowiecki started from seventeenth place and pulled back eight places in a single lap. Unfortunately, his meteoric comeback ended prematurely on lap 3 following an electrical issue. Demoustier hung on to his place in the first eight. During the driver and tyre change an electrical glitch caused a red alert for the engine forcing the team to retire the remaining 12C GT3.

Philippe Dumas, the Hexis team manager, sums up the first meeting of the season: “First of all, I’d like to say how pleasant it was to come back to Nogaro, ten years after our debut here. The fans and the connoisseurs who turned up for our home race showed that they like our team and that they appreciate what we’ve accomplished. For me it’s a big encouragement and gives us even more determination to fight to defend our world title. We’ve had a challenging week requiring with a lot of work, but overall I believe that we’re even stronger as a team than in 2011. We’ve got the skills and the organisation to win with the McLarens. We’re 200 percent concentrated on this championship and the manufacturer we’re representing. What happened to us at Nogaro isn’t the end of the world, but we plan to work hard hand-in-hand with our English partners to solve the technical problems.”

The next round is Zolder, Belgium on 20-22 April. Here’s hoping the MP4-12C GT3 lives up to the expectations fans have for McLaren’s debut in the FIA GT1 World Championship.