MARC VDS Racing Team in Adria:

5 questions to Renaud Kuppens

The second round of the 2009 FIA-GT championship is held on Saturday 16th May in the Italian racetrack of Adria. For the MARC VDS Racing Team it is a great opportunity to continue the development of their Ford GT. In Silverstone the Belgian team started the season with a nice 10th place finish and that race marked the start of the sixth consecutive season in which Bas Leinders and Renaud Kuppens are driving together in the same team. Let's see what the man from Liège has to say.

So Renaud, what did you think of the season's first race?

I had not driven the car much before Silverstone, so I was very happy that Bas gave me the opportunity to drive the car during most of the free practice. I got to know the car a lot better, especially the carbon brakes, something which is totally new to me. Concerning the result: I can tell you right now that we won't incur another penalty early on, nor will we have the problem with the seatbelts not buckling up again. The 50 seconds we lost behind a slower car during the intervention of the safety car, that was plain and simple bad luck. Overall we are quite satisfied. As a matter of fact, it was very pleasing to be able to overtake that many cars!

So you've entered a new dimension with the Ford GT1?

You can say that again. I'm having a lot of fun driving the car. I even get the impression that my stints are not as long as before, since I'm constantly weaving and passing through the GT2-field. This car has an enormous potential. In one phrase: it's an American car. We are not taking many risks. I know what I'm talking about, because my everyday car is a big, fat American pick-up which I use to tow the (mainly American) boats which I import into the Benelux and Northern Europe. I never had any reliability issues. Nor with the Ford.

Is the team ready for this challenge?

Of course we are! I know everybody in the team since 2002. We have to get the most out of 2009 to be completely ready in 2010. Furthermore, there is an excellent collaboration with Matech. Now we can work in a professional context. We might have a smaller structure than Matech, but when it comes down to solving small problems quickly, nobody can beat us! To develop a GT1 it is not a case of opening the Ikea catalogue and reading the manual. You need a bit of creativity. That's where our experience of the last couple of seasons comes in handy... On the track the boys from Matech are our rivals, but not in the garage. Far from it.

How's life with Bas Leinders?

I don't think we could have driven together for this long if our collaboration didn't work! There is not only a great camaraderie, above all there is mutual respect. We work well together.

What's your main aim for the season?

You know by know that we will use 2009 to prepare the 2010 season. But my expectations for the Spa 24 Hours are quite high. It's my favourite race and I would like to get a great result this year. Not necessarily a win, but if we can get into the top 5, I will be over the moon. But first and foremost I would like to see the chequered flag for once!

-credit: marcvds