Van Merksteijn Motorsport secures victory for Porsche upon European debut RS Spyder

Van Merksteijn Motorsport secures victory for Porsche upon European debut RS Spyder

07.04.2008: Van Merksteijn Motorsport secures victory for Porsche upon European debut RS Spyder

Jos Verstappen and Peter van Merksteijn claimed victory in the LMP2-class in the 1000 kilometre race for prototypes and GTs at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona. During the season opener of the Le Mans Series, the two drivers of the team Van Merksteijn Motorsport by Equipe Verschuur stayed ahead of the opposition with their Porsche RS Spyder. Thus, the team secured the maiden victory for the Porsche RS Spyder in Europe upon its competition debut in the LMS. In the overall classification, the team ended up sixth.

Jos Verstappen already secured a good starting position for the team by setting the fastest lap time in the LMP2 class in qualifying. With his lap time of 1.34,422 minutes, Verstappen claimed fifth position on the starting grid. In the race, covering a distance of 215 laps at the 4,655 kilometres long circuit, the former Formula 1-driver was out on then track for the first two hours.

He lost a little bit of time during a "stop and go"-penalty for having overtaken under yellow. "Especially in the early stages, I had to get used a little bit to the traffic on tthe track, because that was an entirely new situation to me", Verstappen said. "Often, the differences in speed are enormous and after six or seven laps, we were already in the middle of the slower cars from the GT2 class.

You have to find a way around them safely and that is a matter of judgement, while you are also driving your own race in the mean time." After the first pit stop, Verstappen just lost the lead in class, but he got that position back relatively soon.

While numerous other cars in the LMP2 category encountered problems of some kind, the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche kept running like the proverbial clockwork. After two hours, Peter van Merksteijn took over and he was perfectly able to match the pace of the other drivers, duly retaining his position among the front runners in the LMP2 category.

"It went very well", Van Merksteijn said afterwards, and the big smile on his face left no doubt about the question whether he had enjoyed himself during his stint in the car. Two hours later, Verstappen got behind the wheel again and built up a slight margin, although the opposition was never far away.

With 18 laps remaining, the team made a final driver change, Peter van Merksteijn getting into the car to drive it across the finish line. Van Merksteijn avoided any unnecessary risks and drove victory home, taking the chequered flag with a margin of one lap over the Lola that took second place in class. He was overjoyed:

"Such a great success for Porsche and for our team during our first race in the LMS, it is just fantastic!" Jos Verstappen added: "I couldn’t have hoped for a better return into motor racing after an absence of two years." Porsche’s motorsport director Hartmut Kristen also paid tribute to his Dutch customer team: "The team has done a great job. This victory is another chapter in the already successful history of our Porsche RS Spyder."

The next round of the Le Mans Series will be taking place at Monza in Italy on April 27th.

Circuit de Catalunya, LMS, race 1, LMP2-class:

Van Merksteijn-Verstappen, (Ned), Porsche RS Spyder, 208 laps 6.00.20,156 (avg.. 161,156 kph)

Bellichi-Pompidou-Zacchia (Ita-Fra-Zwi), Lola-Judd, 1 lap

Elgaard-Nielsen (Den), Porsche RS Spyder, 4 laps  


- René de Boer - also photo
photos will be on under PHOTOS - LE MANS SERIES


07.04.2008 / MaP

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