The Van Merksteijn Motorsport team completed its first day of testing with the brand new Porsche RS Spyder at the southern Spanish circuit of Guadix. Despite some minor problems with the car the team had a really good day and all three drivers were able to do several laps.
At 9:30 it was Jeroen Bleekemolen who went out in the LMP2 car for the first time. As it had been raining in the area in the days before the test the track was still a bit damp but Bleekemolen was still able to do some first runs on the 3km long circuit. During Bleekemolen’s stint the team suffered a minor problem with a fuel hose, which caused the fuel pressure to drop. The test was shortly stopped as the Porsche engineers and Van Merksteijn Motorsport mechanics worked together on the car and quickly solved the problem.
After the problem was solved the car went out again this time with Peter van Merksteijn behind the wheel. Despite lacking the experience in high-downforce cars Van Merksteijn really enjoyed himself in the car. His basic pace was good from the word go and he seemed to have no real problems adjusting himself.
In the afternoon, after a one hour lunchbreak, the team went out again with Bleekemolen. As the youngest of the three drivers has A1GP duties this weekend in Durban, South Africa, he completed the most laps in the car today, before leaving to the airport.
Jos Verstappen also took to the track for the first time and he was really amazed by the car. “This is one of the best cars I have ever driven”, said Verstappen after he completed his test.
As the first day came to an end at around 5.30 in the afternoon Bleekemolen and Verstappen were equally matched. They set almost identical lap times with the best time around 1:04.1 (an official track record according to the Guadix officials). Despite the lack of experience Van Merksteijn improved his lap times on every lap and despite being somewhat slower than the two other drivers, the team is confident Van Merksteijn will be close enough to Verstappen at Barcelona to be competitive. “We did not get one-on-one with Peter today, did not change any setup during his stint and we did not check the data together,” according to VM’s Robert van Barneveld. “Tomorrow we will focus on this and we expect to make more progress, so far it is looking very good,” he continued.
Tomorrow the team will do a similar session where the focus will once again be on getting to know the new car. Verstappen and Van Merksteijn will share the car and the Van Merksteijn engineers will get training on the job by the Porsche engineers. So far the test session has helped the team team in becoming one group. After tomorrow and the Paul Ricard test in March Van Merksteijn hopes to have a group of mechanics that work together as a pact in an attempt to get the best possible results in the LMS and at Le Mans.