SPYKER SQUADRON: LE MANS RACE REPORT
The 75th edition of the 24-Hours of Le Mans started promising for Spyker Squadron. Over the course of the last few weeks a lot of work had been put in the car to come well prepared to the toughest races in the world. Despite thorough preparations, both Spyker GT2s had to retire from the race early.
Many of the almost 300.000 spectators (twice the amount of citizens living in the city of Le Mans) arrived early in the week to see the cars qualify on Wednesday and Thursday but also to see the parade in the Le Mans city centre on Friday. After all the barbeque parties on Friday they returned in thousands on Saturday morning to find a good spot to view the start of the race at 3 p.m..
For the second time Spyker was invited by the organisers of the 24-Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), to enter two Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R's in the race. Spyker's factory team, Spyker Squadron, was strengthened with the drivers and some of the crew of Speedy Racing, Spyker's first customer team owned by Alexandre Pesci of Switzerland.
At exactly 3 p.m.53 cars crossed the finish line. The C8 Spyders started from 7th and 9th position in dry conditions but after an hour in the race the first rain came. The safety car was sent out and the number 86, driven by Jonny Kane, Mike Hezemans and Jarek Janis, could profit from this situation. The other car, the number 85, was not so fortunate. Due to the length of the track it was caught by another safety car.
Later in the race, after about four hours, both cars were still running without any problems. The number 86 was running in fifth position while the number 85, driven by Alex Caffi, Andrea Chiesa and Andrea Belicchi was a bit behind and ran in a 12th position. Many accidents happened at the track including accidents with the Audi and Peugeot race leaders. In the first 32 laps of the race the safety car was out for no less than 16 laps!
After seven hours of racing, just after 10 p.m., car number 86, with Jarek behind the wheel came to a hold at the track he was not able to restart his engine. The car was running in fifth place when Jarek Janis came in for a regular pitstop. Shortly after he rejoined the field the Czech got an oil-warning alarm and the engine stopped running just after the Tertre Rouge corner. To rule out the fact that it was a solvable problem two mechanics grabbed a scooter and gave Jarek verbal instructions from behind the guardrail to diagnose the problem. At 10:22 the car was officially retired from the race with an engine problem.
Peter van Erp, director of Spyker Squadron: "The car was doing very well. All drivers completed their double stint and we were running in fifth position. The team made the right choices; tires, staying out in safety car situations, it was going really well. We do not exactly know what caused the problem but we cannot start the engine; it could be a simple thing or something more significant. It is sad, really sad".
At that time the other car, the number 85, was still running in a 7th position. It held this position till just before 2 a.m.. After almost eleven hours of racing the number 85 had to return to the box for repairs. Alex Caffi missed his braking point in one of the chicanes on the Mulsanne straight and hit the tire barrier. Although the damage looked serious initially, it took the team only about 10 minutes to replace the damaged bodywork and the windshield before the car was sent out again. Just after 3 p.m. the car still running also came to a stop. Alex Caffi told the team over the radio that he lost transmission and was not able to continue. The car was officially retired from the race at 3:35 p.m.
Peter van Erp: "I am really proud of the way everyone the Spyker Squadron and Speedy Racing crew worked together really well. The mechanics did the utmost to come well prepared to Le Mans and so it is really sad for them that we did not finish. I would like to thank all our sponsors but also the enthusiast employees of the Spyker factory whom supported and encouraged us during all stages of this project. Having to withdraw both cars from the race is a huge disappointment, but all the encouraging e-mails and text-messages I received make me feel a lot better and give me lots of energy to continue".
The team will return to the factory in Zeewolde, the Netherlands on Wednesday and has one week to prepare the cars for the next race; the Le Mans Series 1000km of the Nurburgring, Germany.