Circuit Park Zandvoort – Netherlands was the venue for the latest round of the Hankook Endurance series run by the Dutch Creventic team. With Spencer Vanderpal & Wubbe Herlaar tacking this 12hr event in the mighty BMW 120D we take a look at how it all unfolded for SVDP-Racing
Qualifying could not have gone any better for Wubbe, Spencer and the SVDP team as they managed to put the BMW on pole position in their class with a flying 1:57.609 lap from Wubbe which was a mere seven hundredths of a second ahead of P2
All was calm in the pit box prior to the start of the 12hr race. Unusually, the race would be split into two races over the weekend due to noise limit restrictions. Part one would be cover the first 3 hours followed by the remaining 9 hours the next morning. Neither driver had reported any issues with the car out on circuit and Spencer Vanderpal, who had a limited amount of time in the seat, was now getting to grips with the new track and settling into consistent lap times.
After an eventful day for the mighty SVDP deKoningh Medical Systems car and on pole in their class. The BMW would find itself midway down the grid on row 16, pretty impressive stuff from this ex-sales rep car which had already placed ahead of the BMW factory built car, humble stuff from this small but efficient team of enthusiasts who just love to race.
Wubbe Herlaar would take the first stint as the lights went green for the start of the race. Amazingly, during the early laps the BMW would find itself inside the top 20 mixing it up with the thunderous Mercedes SLS monsters, Ferrari and Porsche! The GT3 crews all having to pit at around the 90 minute these mighty little diesels were just about to fight their way into the top 10 until a small bump on the SVDP car put the steering alignment out and a failure of the rear wing bracket forced Wubbe into the pit box for some hasty repairs, all this while in P2 in class. Even with some very quick repairs carried out by the SVDP mechanics they had slipped from P2 to P5 when they re-entered the fray.
With Spencer Vanderpal now seated behind the wheel and, with a grand total of 7 practice laps, he made his way out onto track with 52 other cars and very limited seat time. True to form though, with some clever driving and staying out of trouble, Spencer managed, in his 2 hr stint, to battle his way back into P3 some 3 laps adrift of the P2 car. This no doubt would have Wubbe fired up for his stint when the race resumed later…
Day 2 dawned with Wubbe chomping on the bit to get back out onto the circuit and try to work his way back to the front of the class again and, with the way he drove in qualifying, few would doubt he couldn’t achieve that!
With the class leading car some 4 laps in front, Wubbe would have his fair share of work to do and. At SVDP racing, they have always said that 80% of races are won in the workshop with 10% down to the driver and 10% lady luck, and she had not been all that kind to the team of late with 2 unlucky events costing them class wins in Barcelona 2013 and Dubai 2014. However today would sadly see our main rivals fall foul of lady luck with TTC Racing and Recy Racing teams both having their own problems to deal with.
Within 1 lap of the start of the race the code 60 flags were out, Wubbe being the clever guy, heads straight for the pit box as he knows this will be a long code 60 to remove damaged cars from the circuit. SVDP use this time to improve the steering alignment, a smart move which would cost them very little time. Wubbe headed back out onto the circuit in P4. It was at this point they found out that Recy Racing whom they were battling with for the P2 position earlier, had been involved in an accident. The driver was ok but car was a bit of a mess with the right rear corner needing to be replaced which would cost them valuable time in the pit box.
Wubbe then churned out faster and faster laps clawing back TTC Racing to within 2 laps. It was a very impressive drive with lap times better than most of the AT3 class. Then, SVDP suffered a blow when a front wheel bearing collapsed, this would cost them over 30 minutes to replace and the final minutes of Wubbe’s second stint. With Spencer taking over for his final stint, he managed to bang out his personal best times for the whole 2 hour stint. Then another twist saw the class leading TCC Racing car back into pit with a broken steering rack. Spencer grabbed this chance and stuck the BMW into P1 for the first time since qualifying. The team again needed to look at the left front wheel that had received the knock in the first hour of the race and another wheel bearing needed to be installed. Again they slipped down the order as the class race see-sawed back and forth. As Wubbe entered the track for his final stint of the race, he found himself in 3 laps behind the leading car. Wubbe was truly on a mission recording a lap time over 13 seconds faster than the #74 car in P1. It was just a matter of time before Wubbe caught & passed him. However, with a final twist in this epic battle, the #74 developed a leak from the differential and had to pit to make repairs which then allowed Wubbe to control his pace and take the SVDP Car to the checkered flag and another class win for the mighty 120D BMW.
SVDP win with a margin of 35 laps in the D1 class…
Although not as easy as it sounds with several trips to the pit box to correct problems with the car. With Friday’s rear wing mount failure, a bump into a higher class car with a driver not too sure of his braking zone, wheel bearing failures and alignment problems, all now irrelevant and all a part of endurance racing. The team was now able to celebrate, not only with themselves, but along with the crews of the other teams after such an epic battle; such is the respect and friendship amongst these teams.
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