Faithful to the SRO Championships since the GT1 World Championship days, Marc VDS Racing will have a reduced program this season with a couple of VLN rounds, the 24 Hours Nürburgring and Spa. (En Français)
The only full-season program will be in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Last week the team was present at the Blancpain GT Series test at Paul Ricard with its 2014-spec BMW Z4 GT3 at the request of BMW Motorsport for the purposes of Balance of Performance.
We caught up with Bas Leinders, team principal and driver for the Marc VDS Racing Team.
It’s a somewhat ‘light’ season coming up for the Marc VDS Racing Team…
“We are still very busy. We will be testing with Michelin in preparation for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, while at Paul Ricard we already gathered a lot of data on the new Pirelli tires. Other test sessions are planned.
“The team will field two BMW Z4 GT3 at the 24 Hours of Spa, only Markus Palttala and myself are confirmed right now. We’ll have more information by mid-April, but the other drivers will all have a link with BMW.
“Nick Catsburg will be with us at the Nürburgring and the VLN races. He did a great job last year, especially during Round 7. I always believed in him, he is someone with great potential.”
Why set up a reduced program?
“Marc did not want to return to the Blancpain Endurance Series. We are under contract with BMW for the Nürburgring and Spa. BMW Motorsport wants to win the 24 Hours of Spa and we will make every possible effort to get there.
“For the future, we study different options and GT remains a passion. Marc van der Straten has invested a lot of money since the creation of the team. He was there for the launch of GT1 World Championship before helping Stéphane Ratel in 2011 by entering four Ford GTs.
“The same year, we also raced in the Blancpain Endurance Series. I am very proud of the team. Besides this, we also provide technical support to the running of the BMW Z4 GTE in Europe, as well as in TUSC with Turner Motorsport. All this is done with the approval of BMW Motorsport.”
Will the team strengthens its ties with BMW Motorsport?
“We have to look at what we can do together in the future. The ELMS with the Z4 GT3 is a possibility.”
LMP2 seemed an option some time ago, is this still relevant?
“We are moving forward but we need to find a suitable budget. We have all the necessary skills and equipment available. However, we do not want to lose money. LMP2 is always a possibility, as is GTE, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, single seaters etc…”
Was entering the FIA WEC with the BMW Z4 GTE considered?
“BMW does not want to run the Z4 GTE in the FIA WEC or in Europe. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the main race and the Z4 GTE just lacks the top speed to be competitive over there. We already raced at Le Mans twice and it’s always an adventure. We hope to return someday.”
Is it time yet to hang up the helmet to focus solely on your role as team principal?
“I intend to continue to drive a few years, even if my best seasons are already behind me, Marc appreciates that. I learned a lot about the management of the team, which is now very well organized around me.
“Sebastian Metz did a fabulous job on the technical side of the operation. Everyone knows what to do. It is important that the atmosphere is good. ”
When will the BMW Z4 GT3 be replaced?
“I think this is its penultimate season. It has not changed this winter because of the regulations. Only a few changes concerning the reliability were accepted.
“For the future, it is not yet clear. We’re hoping for a bigger engine (laughs). We will already see how the BoP will turn out this season.
“The potential of the Bentley is there and I expect that Mercedes are again on the pace. Audi will also be there for sure.
“The BoP will never be perfect, it is an established fact. There are just too many differences between the cars. The BMW is not so strong at Monza and Silverstone, but it is better suited to Spa and the Nürburgring.”