SNORAS Spyker Squadron completed its first race of the season today: the Le Mans Series 1000 km of Catalunya. It turned out to be a day of extremes for the Dutch; one car retired early in the race due to technical problems while the other car managed to finish in a fifth position – better than the team could wish for. After all the car turned its wheels for the first time this weekend and many small problems had to be resolved.
The day kicked-off with a 20 minute warm-up session where the mechanics finalised the race-setup of both cars. Just like the last few days it promised to be another sunny day in Barcelona and thousands of spectators filled the paddock ready for the autograph session or the pitwalk.
Just after 11 o’clock the engines were started and the cars left the pit lane towards the grid for the start procedure. Two cars were entered in today’s race; the first one, number 85, was driven by Alexey Vasiliev (RUS), Ralf Kelleners (GER) and Peter Dumbreck (GBR) and the number 94 car will be piloted this season by Andrea Chiesa (SUI) and Benjamin Leuenberger (SUI). For some reason the car entered under the Swiss Speedy Racing banner lost its wheel on the way to the grid and got stuck in the gravel trap. With the help of the organisation the team managed to quickly get the car back to parc ferme and fortunately the car was not badly damaged. Four laps later Andrea Chiesa could join the field to be retired almost an hour later with a broken exhaust pipe.
Andrea Chiesa: “What can I say, the mechanics did a great job and they did their utmost to prepare the car for today’s race – I can not blame them that we lost the wheel. We have a brand new car and knew the race would be difficult. In the race the car was a bit more challenging to drive then in qualifying yesterday. It is sad that we could not fix the problem so Benjamin could spent some time in the car as well.”
In the meanwhile the other car ran like a swiss made clock and performed well. It gradually moved forward on the grid although it happened several times that the car ran in fifth position and returned in seventh after completing a pitstop. But in the end the team pulled it together a managed to win valuable seconds. After almost six hours of racing the number 85 Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R crossed the finish line in a fifth position.
Peter van Erp, Managing Director Spyker Squadron: “I could not have dreamed of this result the last few days when we were still finalizing the cars – I am very pleased with our fifth place although it is a pity that the other car could not finish the race. It was simply not possible to fix the exhaust. There were quite a few accidents especially in the last and curve part of the track where the difference in speed between the LMP’s and GT’s was huge and mistakes were easily made. We try to return to return to Zeewolde as quickly as possible, Le Mans is approaching fast and there is plenty to do!”
Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars: “This is a very good start of the season. Although we need to find a few more seconds the car is without doubt competitive and I am sure that Peter and his team will find the missing seconds in the next months to come. It is sad that the other car did not finish, bad luck, there is nothing you can do about it.”
Peter Dumbreck: “I think our end-result was a good result. We brought the car back in one piece although I had a Porsche hit me. He just lost control at the end of the straight. On the way trough he hit my car right on the side but we got away lucky with that. After the collision it was just a case of keep consistent and make sure we got to the end and I think all three of us drove well to do that. It is a good base point and from here we need to work on improving the car and try to go to the podium”.
Alexey Vasiliev: “It was a new experience for me. The car was great and easy to learn although we had some understeer problems. It was quite an achievement to get the car ready in time for the race and I think we can solve some of the smaller problems before our next race in Italy in three weeks time”.
Ralf Kelleners: To build a car from scratch, go straight into a 1000 km race, and finish the race, is really really great. It is something that big manufacturers such as Porsche dream of and we have just done it. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to test before this event so we have to improve during the season and work towards better lap times. Obviously our fifth place is already very good and I am looking forward to the next race”.
The next round of the Le Mans Series will be held at Monza, Italy, the 27th of April.