Who will defeat Porsche in the 32nd edition of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder?
Porsche is undoubtedly the favourite for this 32nd edition of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder, however the competition will take every opportunity to withhold the Weissach manufacturer from clinching a fourth consecutive victory. It goes without saying that Circuit Zolder is once again not only the place to be on 21st and 22nd August for all motorsport aficionados, but for music fans and all those who enjoy partying also.
Porsche for the fourth consecutive time?
After several years of American domination at Circuit Zolder, Porsche made it through in 2007, 2008 and 2009. GPR Pino, NGT Racing and ProSpeed Competition won the previous editions of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder and all those looking to play it safe should without a doubt once again opt for Porsche as the candidate victors. However which Porsche 911 is another question... There are statistics which point in the direction of several teams.
NGT Racing won the race in 2008 and has entered two cars this season, with no less than four former winners at the wheel. The winners of the previous edition, Franz Lamot and David Loix are back together at the wheel of the NGT Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R, backed up by another former laureate, Ruben Maes. Enzo Ide, the revelation of the season is the fourth musketeer. In the NGT Porsche 911 Supercup Bart Couwberghs, the fourth man to have won at Zolder, together with Geoffroy Horion, David Dermont and newcomer Maarten Makelberge also have every intention of putting up a strong result.
Another team that in previous years has always performed strongly, but never claimed victory is First Motorsport. With Anthony Kumpen, Bert Longin, Henk Haane and Frank Belien, Jo Jamers in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cups S has a cast iron quartet who will be crossing swords with NGT as from the first few meters. With a victory in Zolder Kumpen could become the sole record holder:
"I presently have to share the record with Marc Goossens and Vincent Dupont. But it would be great to win this race for a fifth time, because I enjoy winning. Should I succeed I would then hold the record for the most victories in the 24 Hours of Zolder on my own."
First Motorsport is also entering a Porsche 996, whereby the team through endurance and regularity aims at a top-5.
There are also some outsiders amongst the Porsche brigade. The Thiers brothers enjoyed their best result in Zolder with Porsche, and will be at the start with a fully renewed car. But also AD Sport, Speedlover, Level Racing, McDonald's Racing and a Limburg Racing Team are putting their trust in Porsche. The latter is a 100% Limburg project, seeing the drivers, the teams, the collaborators, the sponsors as also the team boss all emanate from the same province in the eastern part of Belgium.
But why not BMW, Kia, Viper or Mosler?
Porsche's main contenders in this 32nd edition of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder are KS Motorsport, KRK and Runnymede. In previous seasons KS Motorsport collected a fair number of top places in Zolder, and this time around Steve Vanbellingen is out to grab a place on the highest podium. In the last few months the Leuven-based BMW team has won long distance races both at home (12 Hours of Spa) as also abroad in Lithuania (1000 Km of Palanga), and could well be a thorn in Porsche's side.
On the other hand KRK will be going all out to keep the American tradition going. Between 2002 and 2006 Dodge and Corvette won five consecutive editions of the Menzo 24 Hours of Zolder and this time around the team comprised of Koen Wauters, Kris Wauters, Patrick Schreurs and Raf Vanthoor will be the only ones defending the colours of the American manufacturers... Or in fact not entirely. Because on the other side of the Channel the British Runnymede team will be on hand with an American Mosler with as assignment to conquer Zolder with a Mosler having previously achieved same at Silverstone. Also from Great Britain the Lotus Elise of the Belgian AM Racing.
Last but not least there is Chad Racing who are entering an entirely overhauled Kia Pro'Ceed for Philippe Steveny, Iain Dockerill, Werner Moonens and Bert Redant, and who could well surprise us all.
The Touring cars at the rendezvous
In the Touring car camp BMW is definitely well represented with models for MI Racing Belgium (BMW M3 E36), EMG (BMW M3 E46), MRI, Recy Racing Team and Belien Motorsport (all BMW Diesel), with the Renault Clio of Luc Gabriels Racing as the 'French' opponent. But a top-10 or even a top-5 could be envisaged for a strong Touring car.
The final word is left to Hans Van de Ven, General Manager of Speedworld Promotion, who together with his associate Christian Lahaye is organising these 24 HOURS of ZOLDER:
"I'm looking forward to the event, as it will be an open race, where almost everyone could be in contention for victory. Qualitatively speaking it's a great edition, however I'm fully conscious of the fact 25 cars is too little for such a race. I'm not hiding my head in the sand, but I know that we have done everything within our power to give this race a great field of competitors. But even with an address book with some 1000 teams or visits to numerous events both at home and abroad, you can't do anything against the effects of the economic downturn. If the budgets aren't available to attract 40 or more cars, then as a promoter you're up against a fait accompli. So we have to make do with what we have. Moreover it's striking to note that we were barely able to attract cars from the BTCS and that foreign teams also need to rediscover to way to Zolder. In that light we are going to start preparing the 2011 edition as from the beginning of September in order to build up the race step by step. On a personal front I thoroughly enjoy challenges and this will be a big one, but I refuse to throw in the towel or to go howling with the wolves in the woods. I believe in the 24 Hours of Zolder!"