ELMS - 07/02/2017
Q: It is good to see Racing Team Nederland in the ELMS in 2017. What attracted the team to the series?
“The initiative of the whole program came from Frits van Eerd. He was one of our founding sponsors with his JUMBO Supermarkets when we started to run the Domes in 2001. Ever since then we agreed that one day we would do the Le Mans 24 Hour race together and now turned out to be the ideal moment. The ELMS is a fantastic series to combine with the Le Mans 24 Hours and justify the total effort. To do just Le Mans is putting a lot of eggs in one basket. The ELMS provides us with a great calendar with many legendary circuits.”
Q: You’ve driven the new Dallara P217-Gibson in testing. Tell us a bit about the new car and what is it like to drive?
“To drive the Dallara P217 represents two important issues; one is to drive a 2017 generation racing car and two is that it is built by Dallara, a legendary company. In Formula 1 I had my moment of glory in 1980, when I managed to qualify the ATS in 4thposition. Now I realise that with this LMP2 Dallara I could have won the entire F1 World Championship then, that’s how good it is and what the evolution of race car design did over the years. However, I am still the same Jan and therefore it is pure joy and fun to drive. I love my sport and feel so incredibly privileged to still be able to drive with and amongst such great and young drivers.”
Q: You have an entry for the big race in June. You have plenty of experience having won Le Mans in 1988, how is your teammate Frits van Eerd approaching the coming season?
“Frits is an awesome guy and he has an incredible capacity to drive. He won’t allow himself to not progress. He gained a lot of experience in many different racing cars and some of the cars he has driven were incredibly difficult, particularly in the rain. So far he has been very quick in picking up the pace and he has great car control as a former Dutch national rally champion. His practical and effective business skills are a great help to all of us as well.”
Q: Of course, you have another famous name in the car at Le Mans with Rubens Barrichello. Will we see Rubens in a 4-Hour ELMS race in 2017?
“We are all very proud to have such a great driver and sports personality with us. I know Rubens since he was 16 and the first racing car he drove in Europe was ours. Within a few laps we immediately realised already then that he was very special. Now 322 Grands Prix and 11 race wins later he is the most experienced F1 driver on the planet. He fits in great with Frits and myself as a hard working family man. He gives us a masterclass in driving and we all have a lot of fun doing it.”
Q: With 13 cars and three different chassis manufacturers, LMP2 is looking very competitive in 2017. What are your goals for the 2017 season?
“We simply want to be as good as we can be and expect the best from ourselves and those around us. We are not naive about the task ahead and have a lot of respect for the skills of our competitors. Other than that, we realise that we can only perform at our best when we focus on our own job. After the test in Monza we will know at what level we start and we will progress from there; from a car, driver and team perspective.”
Q: Which of the ELMS circuits are you looking forward to racing on the most?
“I guess that would be Silverstone. Not only because it is the first race of the year, but also because I haven’t raced on the new layout of the circuit yet and love the challenge.”
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