5th Dutch National

In the weekend of 3 and 4 August we had our 5th Dutch National in Apeldoorn – what I think is – the most wonderful track in The Netherlands. The weather forecast promised to be hot for Dutch concepts. On Friday the weather forecasters even said it could be the hottest day in Dutch history but we missed the records on just a couple degrees. But with temperatures over 36 degrees it was still hot at least. In the paddock temperatures raise well above 45 degrees!

On Friday we tried to find a basic setup for the engine and car, the track was really hard to drive because of the temperature. The engine was getting hotter as normal so performance did drop a bit. At the end we were happy with the basic setup and lap times were around 14,3

The next day it was more pleasant weather. We could do faster lap times because it was much cooler. At the end of the day we were doing lap times between 13,7 – 13,8 and the pace, compared to the rest of the field, seemed to be very good. The car needed little setup changes from the previous race in Gouda. We only put on some softer front springs (from 9.0 to 8.0) and we placed the rear shocks more upright for more grip in the chicanes. Because the Apeldoorn track has a shorter straight with slow begin and end corners we also shortened the gear ratio. Overnight we checked the car and we were ready for race day.

On Sunday the temperatures we again somewhat lower, and we figured we could do even faster lap times in the morning. And our thoughts were confirmed when in the first qualification run I put the fastest lap of the day with a lap of 13,45. I was in pace for the pole position when I clipped the curb at the end of the straight and my car just lifted the front end eventually ending in the wet grass. The marshal needed to put my car back in and I lost 6 seconds, still I had 22 laps in 5:13.

In the 2nd qualification I had a clean run and 22 laps in 5:09.9 improving my time. Good for 2nd place.

In the 3rd run the track was allot hotter than before and therefor I made some minor setup changes to get more steering and cornering speed. Again a clean run with 22 laps, this time in 5:09.4 improving my time on a hotter track but just not fast enough to get the pole. Then again who needs pole when all need to get past the semi finals.

After 3 rounds of qualifying:
No  Name Laps Time  Car/Engine
1  Robin d'Hondt 22  5:08.432  Motonica / Picco
2  Ermen John 22  5:09.449  Xray / R&B
3  Steven Cuypers 22  5:12.769  Mugen / Picco
4  Rick Vrienlijnck 22  5:13.588  Xray / Picco
5  Gunther van Staey 21  5:04.711  Serpent / Xceed
6  Arie Manten 21  5:09.957  Xray / Picco
7  Martin Zevenhoven 21  5:13.038  Serpent / Xceed
8  Joey Sorber 21  5:13.869  Sheperd / R&B
9  Danny Leewis 20  5:01.059  Serpent / Xceed
10  Marcel Schouten 20  5:01.625  Mugen / Pino

I was on pole in the B Semi, had a clean start, led the race from beep till flag and finish a lap in front of Xray team mate Rick V. The other semi was won by Robin, but as he was about 13 seconds slower than me I could start from pole in the final.

At the start of the final we all had a clean start and Robin, Rick and I could pull away from the rest of the field. Robin and I were close until the first pit stop when I was able to make the gap between Robin and me a bit bigger. Just after 25 laps in the race I clipped the same curb at the end of the straight then in the first qualification run and my car went out of my sight because of the sunscreen of race control. When the car was back in my sight Robin had just passed me and I was back in 2nd place. After the 2nd fuel stop I was right back on his tail and we were going to pass some back markers. Robin just scraped a back marker and I was able to pass him in the chicane in the beginning of the straight. I was back in the lead with Robin close following me. In the next fuel stop I noticed my engine was running a bit rich and we decided to change pit stop strategy on the go and to pit a bit earlier. This meant we needed an extra fuel stop of about 6 seconds. After the tire change our pit stop strategy got the better of us and Robin could get pass just after I came out of the pit. At that point I was faster than Robin but was not able to make a move. I was right behind him with still 4 minutes to go and we both needed just 1 pit stop. Robin then came into the pit and I knew that the next few laps, just before my last pit stop, I had to give it all just to come out of the pit in front of Robin. And it worked! With just less than 3 minutes to go I was in the lead with Robin following me within the second. However, he was not able to get close enough to make a move and I finished 1st 0,7 seconds in front of Robin and Rick was another 2 laps down.

After 30 minutes of racing:
No  Name Laps Time Best Lap  Car / Engine
1   John Ermen 123  30:01.893 13.639  Xray / R&B
 Robin d'Hondt 123  30:02.590 13.699  Motonica / Picco
 Rick Vrienlijnck 120  30:00.119 13.756  Xray / Picco
 Gunther van Staey 118  30:10.070 13.839  Serpent / Xceed
 Arie Manten 114  30:00.703 14.286  Xray / Picco
 Michiel Renting 113  30:04.280 14.266  Sheperd / OS
 Danny Leewis 113  30:14.558 14.274  Serpent / Xceed
 John Lenaers 112  30:12.517 14.693  Mugen / R&B
 Joey Sorber 107  30:09.831 14.328  Sheperd / R&B
10   Marcel Schouten 92  26:56.836 14.945  Mugen / Pino

After a very exiting final I would like to thank my sponsors for their support: Team Xray, R&B Products, Tornado Fuel, Team Titan / Blitz, Matrix Tires, Futura 2012, F.V.S.S. and RC Color. Thanks to my pit crew for the right pit stop strategy and fast pitting: Ismail Ihsane and my dad! And thanks to Fedor for the pictures!

Last Dutch Nationals is our next race in 4 weeks. To take the championship I minimal have to finish in 4th position, not impossible is I say so myself.

Setup sheet: http://forum.teamxray.com/xform/index.php?act=view&ID=90&setup=rx8