Before their sad demise at the end of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series, Philippe Dumas’ Hexis Racing team could rightly state their claim to be among the slickest outfits in GT racing. After achieving success with Aston Martins in the FIA GT1 World Championship – winning the team’s championship in 2011 – the team switched to the McLaren MP4-12C for 2012 and gave the car its first competition victory with a dominant double at Navarra.
Together with Fred Makowiecki, Stef Dusseldorp managed to win five times that year (six if we include the non-championship World Challenge invitational in Baku) and finished just a single point behind the championship-winning All-Inkl Mercedes crew, despite two-non scores at Nogaro and the Nürburgring. As part of our ongoing #GT3is10 celebrations, the Dutchman recalls the Hexis team’s remarkable work ethic and the very first street race in Azerbaijan.
It was not an easy start with the McLaren, because obviously the car was brand-new and we didn’t have a lot of mileage in testing, so when we started the season it was quite bad for us. Nogaro wasn’t at all what we hoped for, but Zolder was better and then the third round was at Navarra, which was the track where McLaren had tested a lot, so the car was really developed there. We made the setup work and we had almost a perfect weekend; we were first in every session except for the qualifying because we had a fuel leakage and we had to start from the back, but we were so quick, we could easily overtake everyone and win both races.
On the whole, it was a very good season. The car ended up being very quick, we had the most wins and podiums, but in the end it just wasn’t reliable enough. We had some issues like at the Nürburgring something in the front broke while leading, so in the end it was a shame lose the title by only one point, but it was a nice season to always battle in front.
After that we went to Baku for the first time in history, which was quite cool, although I remember that first year, the organsiers were different than the years after. The venue was really nice, it was in the centre around the government house, but I think there was too much drama involved with cutting the most important part of the town, so almost every corner was 90 degrees, but it was quite spectacular anyway and I was happy to win it with Hexis.
I had a lot of fun with that team and it got to be like a really close family in the end. I always had really good team-mates and the spirit there was incredibly high. The guys had an incredible knowledge about the cars and they always spent the most time of anyone at the track, they were very early arriving and very late leaving. It was a shame that I heard they were going to sell the team and in the end they stopped because they couldn’t sell it, but those three years were really special.
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