Zytek Le Mans Test Day Report

© Planetlemans – Marcel ten Caat

Spyker Squadron, the factory race team of Spyker Cars, completed their Le Mans test programme in sunny conditions today. During the only official test day, consisting of two four-hour sessions, the team completed their test programme in preparation of the 24-Hour race which will take place in 13 days.
The Dutch team made some significant changes to the car and engine over the course of the last few weeks and used part of the test day to run-in and test some of the newly installed components. Some of Spyker Squadron’s drivers are new to Le Mans. For them the rules as defined by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) apply. The ACO demands that every new driver at Le Mans has to complete 10 timed laps before he or she is allowed to compete in the race.

Spyker car n° 85 will be driven by Alex Caffi (ITA) and Speedy Racing Team-regulars Andrea Belicchi (ITA) and Andrea Chiesa (SUI). Since it will be the first time for both Andrea Chiesa and Andrea Belicchi to drive at Le Mans, they started the day with their mandatory ten laps. The drivers checked all systems and worked on a basic setup of the car. The car ran flawless and trouble free. According to the drivers there was a clear performance improvement compared to Squadron’s last race at Valencia.

Andrea Belicchi: "Andrea Chiesa started in the first session and completed his mandatory 10 laps before it was my turn. I also had to complete the 10 laps although it was not the first time for me driving here at Le Mans; in ‘98 I participated in the Renault Spider Cup. It was not exactly a 24-hour race; it was more like a 24-minute race as it was a support race of the major event. However, we did use the long track and I managed to win the race".

The second car, the n° 86 driven by Jarek Janis (CZ), Mike Hezemans (NL) and Jonny Kane (GB), had some minor problems with the engine from the start on. The team changed injectors, sensors and the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and managed to find and resolve the engine problem. At 12:30 pm, with 30 minutes to go in the first session, Jarek was sent out to complete his mandatory ten laps.

Jarek Janis: "For me it is the first time ever driving at Le Mans so this is a whole new experience for me. I have to say that the track is very nice; extremely long straights and not so complicated to drive. The only real challenge are the ‘Porsche-curves’. Compared to Mike and Jonny, who know the track very well, I lost a bit of time in this famous high-speed curve combination and I need a few more laps to get into a rhythm and feel comfortable at higher speed. I can feel that the engine has improved and our data shows that top speeds are noticeably higher".

In the afternoon both cars completed their laps giving the drivers some track time whilst finding a setup. A compromise had to be found for the seat position in the n° 85 as Alex is a bit smaller than the other drivers. Later in the session, at 16:15 pm, a broken fuel pump caused the n° 85 to stop at the track. The car returned to the pit box at 17:20 pm but, with the pump installed in a position that is difficult to reach, there was not enough time to finish repairs before the second test session had finished.

In the second car Mike and Jonny completed their laps. Although it was not a specific goal of the test day, the team prepared the car with new Michelins to set a few quicker laps towards the end of the day. Unfortunately 15 minutes before the end of the session a code red was given and the test day was over.

Peter van Erp, Director Spyker Squadron; "The team has done a great job – they have worked very hard the last few weeks and this obviously paid off. Although we had some minor problems we clearly made good progress and our performance looks promising for the race. Compared to last year’s qualifying our top speeds were around 7 km/h higher and, although we did not particularly focus on setting a quick time today, Jonny’s sector times are promising and I expect the car will perform well in the race".

credit: Spyker Squadron