Van Merksteijn Motorsport claims victory at Spa

Van Merksteijn Motorsport claims victory at Spa

12.05.2008: Van Merksteijn Motorsport claims victory at Spa


copyright Van Merksteijn Motorsport

The team Van Merksteijn Motorsport by Equipe Verschuur and its drivers, Jos Vestappen and Peter van Merksteijn, claimed victory in the LMP2 class in the third season round of the Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps. In front of 35,000 spectators, among them numerous Dutch fans, Verstappen and Van Merksteijn took their Porsche RS Spyder to victory in class with a margin of 10.387 seconds over Jan Lammers and Didier Theys with the Porsche RS Spyder of the Swiss Horag team.

Their second victory of the season, following their earlier win in the season opener at Barcelona and their second place at Monza, allowed Verstappen and Van Merksteijn to extend their lead in the championship standings. After three of five round in this year’s Le Mans Series, they have 28 points to their tally, a margin of six points over Danish drivers, Casper Elgaard and John Nielsen.

Starting from pole in class for the third time in a row this season, Jos Verstappen led proceedings during the early stages of the race. Conservation of the tyres proved to be quite a challenge with the high temperatures in bright sunshine at Spa.

"With the first set of tyres, already used in qualifying, it wasn’t too easy, but after that, the balance was much better", said Verstappen, who temporarily lost the lead to the quick Lola-Coupé soon after having made his first pit stop. After he had claimed back the lead, he handed over the steering wheel to Peter van Merksteijn. The latter had to come in for an unplanned pit stop to have the front section of the car replaced after the headlights weren’t working properly, as required by the regulations in the Le Mans Series.

The car temporarily dropped back to third in class while the safety-car was out twice during Van Merksteijn’s stint. "The safety car caused some chaos as I had to overtake many cars again after that. Once, I briefly lost concentration and spun, fortunately with no damage", Van Merksteijn reported.

On lap 98, Verstappen got back into the car for his second and final stint and soon moved back up to first place in the category. The closing stages of the race were marked by a third safety car intervention with the final dash to the chequered flag a quick four-lap sprint. Verstappen duly defended his position and drove victory home. "It was by no means easy.

There was a lot of action in this race and we had to remain focussed all the time in order to avoid mistakes in the dense traffic", Verstappen reported. "All the support from the Dutch fans with their banners opposite our pit box was a big motivation boost as well.

You really notice that LMS racing is becoming more and more popular in The Netherlands." Team owner, Peter van Merksteijn commented: "It was a spectacular race, a real classic in the best tradition of the Spa 1000 Kilometres. Once again, our car was perfect and the team did a tremendous job. Now, we are looking forward to Le Mans!"

Next on for the team is the official test day in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday, June 1st. The next round of the Le Mans Series is the 1000 km race at the Nürburgring, August 17th.

Spa (Bel), Le Mans Series. LMP2 race result: 1. Verstappen-Van Merksteijn (Ned), Porsche RS Spyder, 138 laps in 5.18.41.441 hours (avg. 181,947 km/h). 2. Lammers-Theys (Ned-Bel), Porsche RS Spyder, 10.387 seconds. 3. Elgaard-Nielsen (Den), Porsche RS Spyder, 3 laps.

LMP2 drivers’ standings after 3 of 5 rounds: 1. Verstappen and Van Merksteijn, 28 points. 2. Nielsen and Elgaard, 22, 3. Lammers, Theys and Lienhard, 17.

 

- René de BOER -
More photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS - LE MANS SERIES

photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS - LE MANS SERIES

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12.05.2008 / MaP

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