Valencia: Spyker Squadron Thursday qualifying report

SPYKER SQUADRON: LE MANS THURSDAY QUALIFYING Le Mans, 15 June After yesterday's action packed qualifying sessions, the team got another chance today to further improve their setup. Improving yesterday's times was impossible.

SPYKER SQUADRON: LE MANS THURSDAY QUALIFYING

Le Mans, 15 June After yesterday's action packed qualifying sessions, the team got another chance today to further improve their setup. Improving yesterday's times was impossible. The local weather conditions caused the track to be dangerously slippery.

The team had two two-hour qualifying sessions today to compete the setup for the race. In today's training session of the `Le Mans Legends', a support race for the main event this Saturday, one of the classic cars left a trace of oil in the Porsche curves. It also started to rain and it before the cars could even leave the pitbox the organisers already alarmed the teams that the track was extremely slippery. Due to the oil the ACO decided to delay the first session by half an hour in an effort to clean the track as much as they possibly could.

30 minutes late, at 19:30, both Jonny Kane and Andrea Chiesa took place behind the wheel of their Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R for an `installation' lap. At the start of the qualifying session it was only raining at the back of the 13,65km long track but after a few minutes it was raining cats and dogs everywhere and many cars including the Spykers, returned to their pit box. Both C8's remained in the box for about 20 minutes, awaiting a slight improvement in the weather, before going out again.

After one hour in the first session Jonny Kane was the second quickest driver in the GT2 class. Later in the session times improved, but of course it was impossible to match yesterday's times set in dry conditions. Peter van Erp, director of Spyker Squadron: "The conditions we have seen today are like your worst nightmare; it was so wet and slippery that the risk of damaging the car was very high. Fortunately the drivers did extremely well and made not a single mistake. It was also good to be able to work towards a good setup useable under wet conditions; the French weather service forecasts more rain for the race weekend".

After a thirty-minute break the second session started at 22:00. Weather conditions slightly improved; light rain, not too much wind and 13 degrees centigrade. All drivers were given more track-time and could improve their times until it started raining again. At the end of the session one of the Corvettes spun causing a code red. With just six minutes to go the ACO decided to finish the session, as towing the car away to a safer place would take more time.

The number 85 Spyker C8 Spyder, driven by Andrea Belicchi, Alex Caffi and Andrea Chiesa, will start the race this Saturday from a 7th position in class. The number 86 car with Jonny Kane, Mike Hezemans and Jarek Janis behind the wheel is one row behind and will start from a 9th place. Peter van Erp comments: "If we would have set a good time before yesterday's `code red' we would have been in the front. After the one-hour red flag situation the rain came and the rest of qualifying was under wet conditions. Nevertheless I hoped for two cars in the top-eight but I am happy with our current progress and results. Both cars ran without any problems and our drivers did very well".

Tomorrow is `preparation day'; the team already installed the race gearbox in the `85' but there is still a lot of work to be done. Race engines will be installed in both cars and all sorts of other preparation have to be completed before Saturday, the race day. The 75th edition of the 24-hours of Le Mans starts at 15:00, one hour earlier than normal, due to French elections.

-credit: spyker

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jonny Kane , Mike Hezemans , Alex Caffi , Andrea Chiesa , Andrea Belicchi , Jarek Janis