First appearance of an Aston in the 24 Hours of Zolder
ZOLDER. In the four rounds of the Mediagroep Van Dyck Belcar this season Racing For Belgium has scooped two podium places. An additional podium in the 24 Hours of Zolder, being held in less than one week, would obviously not go amiss for the team's first Belcar season. "But it's not quite as simple as that", Wim Coekelbergs remarked. "It's the first time that an Aston Martin is at the start of the 24 Hours of Zolder and on top of that there are hardly any references regarding the Aston GT3 in 24 Hour races. So for us it's going to be looking into the crystal ball, which doesn't mean that we won't be preparing ourselves 100% and concentrate fully on crossing the finish line on Sunday in an excellent overall place."
For the 24 Hours of Zolder Racing for Belgium will be calling on the services of regulars Wim Coekelbergs and Ron Marchal, and they will be supported by the Belgian David Sterckx and the Dutchman Robert den Otter.
An Aston Martin will make a first appearance in the 24 Hours of Zolder on Saturday 8th September. This prestigious British make has a rich 24 Hours history, winning the 1959 Le Mans as also a victory in the GT1 category some three months ago. "We're not going to leave anything to fate to ensure that this première will be something worth remembering", Coekelbergs told us. "The DBRS9 engine went back to Prodrive, but the car itself is not being specially prepared for the race. In fact it's going to be quite a challenge for all GT3s to complete these 24 Hours. Anyone who can drive at a consistent pace and avoid the odd misfortune could well be in for an overall podium place. I'm pretty sure that whoever finishes in our class is more or less guaranteed a podium in GT3, because I can't image many GT3s coming across the finish line. My ambition is to be amongst those few that make it through to the end and score full points."
For the French speaking Belgian David Sterkcx this edition of the 24 Hours of Zolder is in fact a sort of come-back. In the past Sterckx caused some furore in the FIA GT and amongst others scored an impressive second place in the 24 Hours of Spa back in 2002 with the British Lister. David Sterckx: "Zolder goes back to 1999 for me, when I competed in a Gillet Vertigo with Ugeux and Van Vaerenbergh. I'm pleased to be back, especially in a British GT, because that brings back great memories. I scored a second place with the Lister in 2002 at the 24 Hours of Spa and a sixth in 2003. In addition I competed in various FIA GT races with the GT of Laurence Pearce. This is why I find this to be an interesting project. The Aston should no doubt be somewhat easier to drive than the Lister in 2002 and 2003 and I truly hope that this splendid car will also be reliable. I have my full trust in Racing For Belgium. I know the team from my Clio days and already then it was a front runner."
Apart from the two Belgians in the Aston there are also two Dutchmen. Ron Marchal is the regular partner of Coekelbergs in the Belcar, but has also put in an appearance with the British power beast in the FIA GT3, the ADAC GT3 Masters and the Dutch Supercar Challenge. And it is from this last series that the fourth member of the team appears: Robert den Otter. Den Otter competes in the Dutch GT and touring car championship with a V8-Star, a highly powerful and fast piece of machinery. As compared to Sterckx, who has already competed with the Aston during the recent Champcar weekend, for den Otter the Aston is going to be a real première.
The 24 Hours of Zolder kick off this coming Wednesday 5th September, starting with the free practice sessions and qualifying.