More than four decades after Jacky Ickx's mythical victory with the Ford GT 40 in the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours the Marc VDS Racing Team starts for the first time in the 'Biggest Race in the World'! Bas Leinders, Eric De Doncker and Markus Palttala share the silver Ford GT with which they won the GT1-category in the recent edition of the Spa 1000 km. A good omen?

It is one of the most famous images in the history of motorsports: in 1969 Jacky Ickx got himself noted by showing a clear objection against the 'Le Mans Start', which he considered to be too dangerous. So he did not run towards his car, but waited for the other drivers to leave before walking calmly to his car. 24 Hours later he finished his spectacular comeback from last position by passing Hans Herrmann's Porsche in the last lap and grabbing victory.

Just over 40 years later there is another Ford GT, flying the Belgian colours, at the start of the 'Biggest Race of the World'. The Ford GT of the Marc VDS Racing Team, which also participates in the GT1 World Championship, takes part in the 78th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 12th-13th. At the wheel the trio of Bas Leinders, Eric De Doncker and Markus Palttala. During the first weekend of May the two Belgians and the most Belgian of all Finns already won the GT1-category in the Spa 1000 km. An excellent dress rehearsal.

"That win has increased the motivation of the team enormously, especially since at our home race they delivered a perfect car and made no errors whatsoever during the pitstops", Bas Leinders says. "Eric, Markus and I are determined to repeat that feat in Le Mans."

The Le Mans 24 Hours enjoy a mythical reputation, that goes without saying. That's why Marc van der Straten is overjoyed with the fact that his team now is part of the rich history of this event.

"It is fantastic to be here!" an enthusiastic Marc van der Straten declared. "Among the 56 cars at the start, there are only eight GT1's. So the first challenge was to get a place on the entry list, which was not easy for a young team like ours. But the fact that we are here shows a recognition for the way we work and will continue to work in this GT1 category. I wish to thank the Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO) for their confidence in us. Now it is up to our boys to show what they can do. I am fully confident that they will perform well!"

The Belgian character of this entry is reinforced by the presence of one of the Marc VDS Racing Team's most loyal partners: Ice-Watch, the fashionable Belgian watch enjoying a worldwide success.

"We are very happy that we were able to support the Marc VDS Racing Team since the beginning of this season, in all the programs they have on their motorsport calendar. But this race in Le Mans gives another dimension to our cooperation, which emphasizes our philosophy in this project: work seriously, without taking yourself too seriously", says Jean-Pierre Lutgen, CEO of Ice-Watch. Next Saturday at 3 PM he will be right on time to attend the start of the 78th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours!

-source: marc vds