Spa: Merc VDS preview

TWO FORD GT1 CARS IN SUPPORT RACE AT SPA 24H Before participating with two Ford GT3 in the Total 24 Hours of Spa the Marc VDS Racing Team also starts in the fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship, one of the support races of the Belgian...

TWO FORD GT1 CARS IN SUPPORT RACE AT SPA 24H

Before participating with two Ford GT3 in the Total 24 Hours of Spa the Marc VDS Racing Team also starts in the fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship, one of the support races of the Belgian endurance classic. The two Ford will be driven by the usual line-up: Leinders-Martin (Ford #40) and Palttala-Kuppens (Ford #41).

Next weekend, the Marc VDS Racing Team not only enters two growling Ford GT3 in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, driven by De Doncker-Kuppens-Palttala (Ford #98) and Leinders-Martin-Duez (Ford #99), but it also participates in the Belgian round of the FIA GT1 World Championship, with duos Leinders-Martin (4th in Le Castellet and 14th in the championship standings) and Kuppens-Palttala.

Even though they are the support program for the Spa 24 Hours, this World Championship meeting follows the general lines of the other meetings: on Friday afternoon (3pm) there is the start of the Qualifying race, the Championship race is held on Saturday noon (12.05pm). Each race is one hour long, with an compulsory driver change between the 25th and 35th minute. After each of the meetings success ballast was applied, to conserve the balance of performance between the different cars. The first four cars get 40-30-20-10 kg, starting from 6th place the weight is taken off the car (-10-20-30-40 kg). Apart from the Ford GT, five other manufacturers have entered the World Championship: Aston Martin (with the DB9), Corvette (Z06), Maserati (MC12), Lamborghini (Murcielago R-SV) en Nissan (GT-R).

A couple of weeks after their GT1-win in the Spa 1000 km-race, and only a couple of days before one of the more important weekends of their season, we talked to the four GT1-drivers.

Bas Leinders: "Of course I hope that we can continue where we left off. Our 4th place in Le Castellet was our best result until now and I am sure that we can claim a top 10 spot in the championship. For a first season that would be great. Obviously, I am also looking forward to racing in front of our home crowd, I quietly hope we can claim a podium finish..."

Maxime Martin: "The Paul Ricard result really gave us wings! Yes, we will have to carry 10 kg success ballast because of our 4th place, but that should not hinder us too much. Still, we will have to work hard to find the right set-up for qualifying, in order to use the full potential of our tyres. That qualifying session really is crucial, it is the part of the weekend where we can make the most progress, since in the races we can follow the rhythm of the fastest cars. In the Spa 24 Hours I hope I can repeat last year's result, since I won the GT3-class with the Ford. We'll see what happens this year..."

Renaud Kuppens: "Of all the GT1-drivers I am pretty sure that I live closest to the track, only some 15 minutes away, but strangely enough I am also one of the drivers that has driven here the least! For years I have only driven here during the 24 Hours. Before attacking my annual participation with Markus and Eric, there are the GT1 races first. Thus, Markus and I will be able to start our collaboration with our engineer. It's the first time this season that we can have one all to ourselves! I am looking forward to that, it should give us the possibility to make great progress in defining the set-up of the car and in coping with the difficulties of the races."

Markus Palttala: "I can hardly wait to drive in Spa again, because this is the home race of the team. Since I also compete in the 24 Hour-race, my experience in the GT1-races will certainly help me. What else is there to say about Spa? Except that it is a real drivers' track and that I am looking forward to driving the Ford GT here, especially since our win during the Spa 1000 km shows that the car performs well here."

-source: marc vds

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Bas Leinders , Markus Palttala , Renaud Kuppens , Maxime Martin
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Marc VDS Racing