Much more on Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708

Some additional digging around the internet and my files yielded some more things of interest on the van Merksteijn Racing Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708:

Planet LeMans story from Marcel ten Caat on the first test outing for the car in February 2008.

Planet LeMans interview with Frans Verschurr, team principal of Equipe Verschurr, the organization that prepared and ran the Porsche.

Want to see 3+ minutes of Jos Verstappen behind the wheel in 2011 giving the car some exercise?  Of course you do:

Photos of the brand new car just after delivery – still in black carbon (credit to Frits van Eldik via story of Anthony Megavand, Feb 11, 2008):

Porsche Van Merksteyn Porsche Van Merksteyn

Peter van Merksteijn (l) contracteert Jos Verstappen voor Le Mans en LMS kampioenschap 2008 waar van Van Merksteijn Motorsport met een Porsche RS Spyder aan deelneemt.
Peter van Merksteijn and Jos Verstappen
Seatfitting Jeroen Bleekemolen, VM-Motorsport.
Seatfitting Jeroen Bleekemolen
Seatfitting Jeroen Bleekemolen, VM-Motorsport.
Seatfitting Jeroen Bleekemolen
24 Uur Le Mans, 2007 ©Frits van Eldik
2008 LeMans team photo (credit to Grouve Sports Management Group and Frits van Eldik)

Also found a few photos from Rennsport Reunion IV at Laguna Seca in 2011 from my files – Bruce Canepa at the wheel:

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Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708

The 2007 Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708 was purchased with the objective of racing at LeMans.  The Dutch Van Merksteijn Motorsport team purchased the car, with owner Peter van Merksteijn spearheading the effort.  He added fellow contrymen Jos Verstappen and Jeroen Bleekemolen as drivers and the three shared driving duties throughout the 2008 season.20150925-2520143140 20150925-251727135 20150926-26201947120150926-262016051

Peter had done a fair amount of sports car road racing over the years.  He had largely run in Porsche GT platforms in events like the 24 hour races at Daytona, Zolder and Spa.  In 2005, he ran several races in the Dutch Spyker Squadron car as well.  Jos Verstappen is well known from his Formula 1 days, but little (no?) sports car racing before the RS Spyder came along.  Bleekemolen had a lot of GT experience, including stints with Jan Lammers and the Spyker program.  He obviously continues to operate at a very high level in professional racing, these days in the IMSA SRT ViperExchange program.20150925-2520173747 20150925-2520111432

The Van Merksteijn team is perhaps better known over the past few years by its rally adventures.  The rally cars, like chassis 9R6 708, carry familiar and distinctive purple colors.  The car won in class at its debut at the April 2008 Catalunya 1000km race.  Later in the month, the car ran at Monza (ironically settling for second place due to crash damage in a meeting with a Spyker) before claiming another class win at the 1000km of Spa in May.  Momentum continued into June with a class win at the 24 Hours of LeMans (with a 7 lap gap) and a 10th place overall finish.  Bleekemolen had run in several tests with the car, but LeMans was his first race with the van Merksteijn/Verstappen pairing.  Not a bad way to make your appearance.  Significantly, the win was the first win at LeMans for a Dutch team in history. 20150925-252003023 20150925-251727456

Verstappen and Bleekemolen claimed another class win at the Nurburgring while team owner had a conflict while racing in the World Rally Championship.  Van Merksteijn returned for the next race and he and Verstappen won in class at Silverstone to complete the car’s very successful competition history with the team.  The chassis found its way to Navi Team Goh for the 2009 LeMans 24 hours, but did not finish due to an accident very late in the race.  The car’s full competition history is available from the chassis archive.  If you’re interested in a book focusing solely on the 2008 campaign, check out Vini Vidi Vici (no affiliation).20150926-2601130053 20150925-2520143140Chassis 9R6 708 ended up in the hands of Bruce Canepa just a week before the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV at Monterey.  The car needed work, but the original colors were restored and car mechanically prepared to permit it to run at speed during Rennsport.  Canepa has the car up for sale (as still seen here in the “used car” section of the Canepa website) and it was purchased in August 2014 by Dan Curry, a customer of Gunnar Racing. 20150926-261733052 20150925-251729561At Rennsport Reunion V, 9R6 708 shared paddock space with other goodies from Gunnar Racing – including three other RS Spyders.  With all that as prelude, enjoy the pics of 9R6 708 at Rennsport Reunion V!  Thanks to Bruce Canepa, Dan Curry and Gunnar Racing for taking good care of her and sharing her with the world.20150926-260113017

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Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 702

The Porsche RS Spyder is likely the last prototype that will be built by the Porsche factory, run in private hands in active competition and then sold to private owners.  The use of hybrid technology and the relative sophistication of platforms like the LMP1 means that privateers are unlikely to have the resources and depth to maintain and run the cars.  The Porsche RS Spyder ran in 2007 and 2008 in IMSA competition in the hands of Penske, Dyson and Pickett Racing.


Chassis 9R6 702 was campaigned by Penske Racing.  According to, the chassis claimed IMSA wins at Salt Lake City and Lime Rock in 2007 with drivers Ryan Briscoe and Sascha Massen.  Emmanuel Collard joined for the longer race like Sebring and Petit LeMans.   In 2008, the car ran as a third car in the hands of Briscoe and Helio Castroneves at Petit LeMans and Monterey.  At Petit, the pair won in class (LMP2) with a 4th overall finish.  9R6 702 carries the livery as last run as the #5, showing Briscoe and Castroneves as drivers. 20150925-2517472514 20150925-2517471213

After finishing the 2008 season, the car ended up in the hands of Gunnar Racing and Christian Zugel and ran in several historic events before landing among the cars of the WeatherTech stable of David MacNeil in time for the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca.  MacNeil wisely installed Jeroen Bleekemolen to pilot the Porsche for the weekend.  Jeroen’s day job these days is to drive the Viper Exchange SRT Riley Viper in IMSA competition, but has prior experience in the Porsche RS Spyder.  He was on the driving strength for the LMP2 class win in 2008.  (That very car – 9R6 708 – was on-site and situated in the Gunnar Racing paddock just yards away from the WeatherTech paddock.)



Back to 9R6 702…  The car ran its competitive life in bright yellow DHL colors with Penske Racing in IMSA competition.  Bleekemolen drove the car hard at Rennsport rather than putting in leisurely parade laps.  In fact, he not only won the Group 6 race, but set the fast lap for the race and the entire weekend. 20150926-2601125451 If you want to see the driver’s eye view that Bleekemolen had at the wheel of the Porsche RS Spyder, check out the 14 minutes of fantastic video courtesy of Racer Magazine.



The car is very photogenic, so all of this as prelude to a few favorite shots from Rennsport Reunion V of Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 702.  Thanks much to Gunnar Racing and David MacNeil for taking good care of her over the years and bringing it out to run at speed.20150926-260112536


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Santa Delivers new GT3 cars

If you’ve been paying attention to social media, you’ve seen that some teams have been posting pictures of their brand new race cars as they’re being delivered.  The past week or so has seen a lot of new hardware delivered to waiting race teams and more deliveries are coming soon.  Some cars are only shown by their teams after they’ve received their new colors, but there is something about the bare carbon presence of a brand new race car.  We’ll also be watching for delivery of new customer AMG GT3 cars as deliveries are set to begin in the coming week.

Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan (via Bryan Sellers Twitter)

PaulMiller Lambo

Team Seattle Porsche 997 GT3 R in the shop and at Sebring (via Ian James Twitter)



Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS at Sebring (via Magnus Rracing Twitter)


Turner Motorsport BMW M6 in Munich (via Turner Motorsport Facebook)

TurnerM6-5 TurnerM6-3 TurnerM6-2 TurnerM6 TunerM6-6 TunerM6-5 TunerM6-4

Frikadelli Porsche 997 GT3 R (via Sabine Schmitz Facebook)

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Falken Porsche 2014 Nurburgring 24 Hours

For no particular reason other than photos of the Falken Porsche from the 2014 Nurburgring 24 hours apparently have the ability to catch one’s attention when poking through the archives, a brief look back in time is warranted.  The Falken 997 Porsche is known as a regular and fan-favorite competitor in the Nurburgring 24 hours.  Falken always has a distinctive paint scheme and does a ton of on-site marketing support.  As you might have seen on this blog or elsewhere, the 997 car was recently put up for sale after a long and successful run as the team will running a new 991 platform for 2016.


In 2014, the Falken Porsche was piloted by a four-man squad of Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger, and Alexandre Imperatore.  All of these drivers are extremely skilled and experienced which put the car in good hands.  The car qualified 20th overall with a time of 8:19.761 – shockingly 9 seconds off the pole time of Kevin Estre in the Dorr Motorsports McLaren.  In fairness, Estre’s lap in the McLaren was several seconds faster than any other car.  Most cars were in the 8:13 or 8:14 range.  Regardless, the time for the Falken Porsche likely shows more about the team’s endurance mindset than anything about raw speed.

20140621-211105282 20140622-221135224 20140622-221052082 When the checkered flag flew, the car claimed a fourth place overall – two laps off the leader.  The finish was the team’s best overall finish to date and resulted from running a clean and consistent race.  The 2014 Nurburgring 24 hours had relatively good weather which meant a dry and fast race pace.  The team moved into the top 5 after 8 hours of running before moving into fourth about 90 minutes before the finish.


Leading up to the 2015 race, published an interview with team principal Sven Schnabl.  His planning paid off as the team claimed its first podium in 2015 with the same impressive driver line-up.

Enjoy the pics and best of luck to the Falken Porsche team in 2016!

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ROWE Racing to BMW for 2016

With Mercedes AMG on the verge of delivering a new GT3 race car for the 2016 season, it was a surprise (to this scribe, at least) to see the announcement that SLS stalwart ROWE Racing is moving to the BMW M6 platform for 2016.  The withdrawal of the Marc VDS team apparently provided an opening for a factory favored slot in the BMW stable.

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The white and yellow ROWE Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 team usually has run 2 cars and has been consistently competitive in events like the Nurburgring 24 hours.  A podium in 2014 is probably not a fair reflection of the team’s strength.


The ROWE Racing colors look quite distinctive on the BMW M6.  BMW Motorsport apparently saw what they liked at ROWE and there is a real opportunity for good results in 2016.Front_24hNBR_ROWE2

This news provides the perfect opportunity for a photo gallery from the past few years of ROWE Racing Mercedes cars at the Nurburgring 24.  Enjoy!

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