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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Alex Wurz to Retire

Driver Alex Wurz announced his retirement from top-line professional motor racing this week.  Wurz has been a particular favorite of fans, media and fellow drivers.  He is a two time LeMans winner (1996 with the Team Joest Porsche and 2009 with the factory Peugeot).  He also has extensive experience in the Formula One ranks with Benetton and Williams (and test driver with Brawn GP).

Wurz will complete his WEC commitments to Toyota in the 6 hour race at Bahrain. Dailysportscar put together an impressive story and career overview which is available here.

Judging from the outpouring of congratulations on social media, Wurz is very popular with a lot of people.  Hopefully, he won’t be far from the track in some capacity in the future.  Congratulations to Alex.

20140612-121858451 Canon 5D Mark III, 420mm, ISO100, 1/1250 sec,  f/6.3
June 12, 2014
LeMans 24 practice
Alex Wurz driving the #7 Toyota P1 entry

Buying a race car direct from the Mercedes Museum?

With a hat tip to Jalopnik for the pointer, did you know that you can buy a Mercedes directly from the museum?  Did you know that you can by a 1998 Mercedes CLK-LM race car that was used in pre-qualifying at LeMans?  Chassis 001?  Yikes. Of course, the price is available upon request, but you’d probably show up with a bucket full of Euros or Deutschmarks.   The website is and has other cars for sale and more to come.  The cars are varied in their history and condition.  For the Mercedes Benz fan, this may be a site to keep an eye on.  For the auto racing fan, a look at a CLK-LM is a rare treat.  With that, have a look at some favorite photos from the site – there are 53 total photos, so have a look at the rest if you’re interested. Enjoy!

FZGH012015-2_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-9_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-24_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-25_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-28_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-30_20x30-1-599x900 FZGH012015-34_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-36_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-43_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-45_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-55_20x30-1-1180x785 FZGH012015-66_20x30-1-1180x785

Congrats to Porsche for winning the 2015 WEC Championship

In wet conditions, Porsche clinched the 2015 WEC championship.  Amazing story with a lot of layers.  Surely, there will be retrospectives in the off-season that look back over 2015 and speculate about 2016.  Full story of the Shanghai race and championship in a variety of places:
Dailysportscar Shanghai race report
Racer Magazine/Autosport
Obligatory photos – these from LeMans 2014:
Canon 5D Mark III, 420mm, ISO100, 1/320 sec, f/4
June 11, 2014
24 Hours of LeMans practice, pit lane entry

Canon 5D Mark III, 420mm, ISO100, 1/1000 sec, f/5
June 11, 2014
24 Hours of LeMans practice, final chicane complex

1997 Nissan R390 GT1 at Art Center Classic

The Art Center College of Design in the hills above the Rose Bowl in Pasadena hosts a car show of sorts known as the “Classic” each year.  The Art Center staff, lead by Stuart Reed – the head of the Transportation Design department – selects a them and invites cars that reflect the theme.  This is a unique show that has unique cars, a chance to mingle with alumni working as designers in the industry, and see the students and their work who will shape the future of transportation design.

Chassis001 will feature several of the cars and exhibits from the 2015 Classic, held on October 25.

Today’s feature?  The 1997 Nissan R390 GT1 that ran at LeMans courtesy of the Nissan Heritage Collection.  The project brought together iconic names like TWR (Tom Walkinshaw) and Ian Callum (of Aston Martin design fame).  The regulations required a road car base, so unlike others who build the race car and reverse-engineered a road car, Nissan build the road car first.  The car was not a success but is remembered fondly by sportscar racing enthusiasts. Of the three cars, only one was classified as a finisher (12th).    #21 was driven by Martin Brundle, Jorg Muller and Wayne Taylor.  It suffered a clutch problem and then an overheating gearbox oil cooler.  In the early morning hours, Jorg Muller damaged the underside of the car running over curbs which added to the car’s problems and forced a retirement.

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Looking for more photos and history?  Check out the Speedhunters three part series from John Brooks:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3