While much of the motorsport world focussed their gaze upon Melbourne for the opening Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season, the GT1 series gathered in Abu Dhabi for their first round.
Although the Qualifying race passed with little action beyond a turn 1 melee, the Championship race later in the evening was simply fabulous.
The initial stint of the race saw a five car chain battle for the lead, with the Clivio Piccione piloted Hexus Aston Martin calmly stalking the group. However all that changed following the mandatory pitstop at halfway.
As Piccione disembarked for secondary driver Stef Dusseldorp, the Hexus pitcrew worked wonders, allowing the entry to jump into the lead of the race. Dusseldorp – a 21-year-old former German F3 runner – began running quickly up front; however he would soon be drawn in the experienced Richard Westbrook in the JR Motorsports Nissan.
Westbrook closed the six second gap down to just a few tenths and over the final few tours, pressed and pressed Dusseldorp for the lead. In what was a fantastic battle that went to the flag, Dusseldorp refused to bow to Westbrook’s pressure, eventually taking the victory by less than half-a-second.
It was a wonderful achievement, not only for Hexus Aston Martin, but also for their somewhat unfancied driver pairing. That the battle was so tooth-and-nail was the icing on the cake.
The second round the GT1 World Championship comes from Zolder (Belgium) on April 10th, with both races being broadcast live from GT1 World.
If you are not up to much, they are well worth a watch. As is this clip from yesterday…