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.
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.
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.
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 RacingSportscars.com chassis archive. If you’re interested in a book focusing solely on the 2008 campaign, check out Vini Vidi Vici (no affiliation). Chassis 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. At 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.