After earlier tests at Papenburg and Vallelunga Spyker Squadron yesterday tested their Laviolette GT2R in 2009 specifications at the High Tech Test Track (HTTT) Paul Ricard. As Tom Coronel (NED) was racing in the first WTCC round in Brazil, Spyker Le Mans Series driver Jarek Janis (CZ) was accompanied by Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) whom will join the pair later this year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Almost half of the field of nearly 50 Le Mans Series teams travelled to the South of France to test their cars. Paul Ricard is one of the few tracks where the Le Mans straight high speeds can be simulated and a strong wind in back helped some of the Le Mans Prototypes to reach speeds in excess of 340 km/h whilst the GT’s reached top speeds of around 290 km/h.
Spyker Squadron started the test on Sunday with some electrical problems due to a faulty wire in the loom. Just before lunch the mechanics fixed the broken wire, enabling the team to start testing the various new Michelin tire compounds in combination with the right geometry settings.
Although it is difficult to compare times – one never knows what the other teams are testing and whether they are running the car in 2009 specifications – Spyker set the 6th quickest GT2 time on the Sunday. A small number of teams continued to test their cars throughout the night whilst Spyker Squadron restarted their programme on Monday morning.
When the team arrived back on the track on Monday morning it was still sunny but much cooler than the day before and the wind had considerably strengthened. Based on the data captured in the previous day the team continued to further enhance the geometry parameters of the car to match the grip levels of the new Michelin tires. Besides tires the team also tested and evaluated various engine mappings, their new brake calliper design and new front-wheel bearings. The car considerably improved and, with a fresh set of tyres, Jeroen and Jarek were able to continuously set quick times in the afternoon.
Having completed all all tests an hour ahead of schedule, the team concluded their test programme at around 16:00. The team set the third quickest time of the GT2 field.
Peter van Erp, Managing Director Spyker Squadron: “It was the first time this weekend that we tested the 2009 spec engine in the car. Although we intensively ran the engine on our dynamometer it always requires a bit of fine-tuning to calibrate it and match it to the car. It is good to see that, so early in the season, it looks like we have closed the gap with Porsche and Ferrari a bit”. He continues: “But we will have to see were we are at for real. This was just a test and we will have to wait until Barcelona early next month to see what the competition is capable of”.
Jarek Janis: “In the end we did well and sorted out the electrical problems we had at the beginning of our test. We improved quite a lot on Monday and I must admit that everything looks very promising for our first race in Catalunya. If we stay out of problems, I sincerely think that we can score some points or even a podium finish”.
Jeroen Bleekemolen: “I am very satisfied with our results. Porsche and Ferrari booked a lot of progress in the last years and I was sincerely surprised to see that we are so close to the leaders in GT2. The factory backed Porsche 0.3 seconds ahead of us, set a quick lap time on a fresh set of tires. It must have been a real qualifying lap for them and it can certainly be seen as a reference time for the field. Aston Martin, and later on Corvette, will join our class and it is great to see that a small manufacturer such as Spyker to be part of the leading pack”.
Tom Coronel and Jarek Janis will come in action for the first time this season in the first round of the Le Mans Series at April 5 on the Circuit de Catalunya just North of Barcelona.