Hakkinen and Solomon lead their Erebus teammate.
MIka Hakkinen and Matthew Solomon dominated for Erebus Motorsport and the AMG Customer Sports program in China with a dominant performance to win Saturday’s 50 minute GT Asia Series race at Zhuhai.
The victory is the 10th consecutive win for Erebus Motorsport’s SLS AMG GT3 program, including the Bathurst 12 Hour race back in February.
Hakkinen started the No. 36 SLS AMG GT3 from sixth placing on the grid. He stormed through to second by the exit of the first corner, followed by teammate Lance David Arnold from the third-placed starting position.
Disappointment struck for Arnold eight laps in when he was informed to shut the No. 63 Gullwing down for safety reasons due to a technical issue the team detected on the car’s telemetry. This triggered a short safety car period.
Hakkinen, who was caught behind New Zealander Earl Bamber, pitted the Bathurst 12 Hour-winning SLS AMG GT3 to hand over to his 17-year-old apprentice. The youngster then used the clear track to his advantage to close the gap to the Bamber and teammate Samson Chan.
With eight minutes remaining, Solomon saw a gap to place the lengthy nose of the flying Gullwing through on Chan and using the 10 stage ABS Braking System in the SLS AMG GT3 to its absolute maximum, got by and into the lead. From there Solomon was not headed and took the historic first win for the AMG Customer Sports program in China.
The win for Hakkinen adds another milestone to his storied international career. It is the Flying Finn’s first race in almost two years (his last coming in 2011 at Zhuhai), and is his first win since a DTM victory at Mugello in 2007 for Mercedes-Benz.
“I have to admit the start was a Plan B and it worked,” Hakkinen related. “I was really focusing on the start to try and make my way forward, it was difficult to make a good start and with the high wings of the GT3 cars it is very challenging to see the lights change, I did a couple of tricks and they worked!
“Matthew did a fantastic job when he got into the car. This is a very short race, it isn’t a long race so you have to push all the time and Matthew showed that. We had a great racecar and the team did an awesome job.”
A second race follows on Sunday, with Arnold and Solomon forming an all Erebus Mercedes front row.