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Speedtec Motorsport Closes 2012 Dutch Supercar Challenge Championship Second Overall

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The BMW Zilhouette Z4’s proved that they have the speed to be a serious championship contender in 2013
The BMW Zilhouette Z4’s proved that they have the speed to be a serious championship contender in 2013
Holland's K&N supported Speedtec Motorsport team took the Dutch Supercar Challenge Championship down to the last race at TT Circuit Assen, in Assen, Netherlands. Last season the team’s consistency produced nine podiums in the 16 race series, and they clinched the championship before the last race. This season the team didn’t just have to contend with competing on the track, and with being the marked defending champions, but they also battled with various mechanical issues. Yet, despite those challenges Robert de Graaff and Philippe Ribbens, driving the ETEC-Dodge Viper, finished the Supercar Challenge Super GT Division in second place.

Philippe Ribbens qualified the Viper into a respectable fourth place in Assen, but he felt that the car was capable of much more. "During the second free practice I noticed that there was something not quite right on the car," said Ribbens. "After an inspection, our engineers found that a connection in the differential was going bad.”

The team put together a huge effort and had the Viper ready to race in time for the first race on Saturday. Ribbens started the race and said it felt a bit “nervous” at first. After another quick adjustment the Viper was running near its capabilities, and when Ribbens brought the car in the pits for the driver change, he was in third place. The pit crew then managed to send de Graaff back on the track in second place. After some intense back-forth racing the duo of de Graaff and Ribbens finished the day on the second tier of the podium.

Leo Van der Eijk and Bas Schouten drove their BMW Zilhouette to third place in the last TT Circuit Assen race
Leo Van der Eijk and Bas Schouten drove their BMW Zilhouette to third place in the last TT Circuit Assen race
Although the racing eventually went relatively smoothly for the team on Saturday, Sunday’s race seemed destined to be plagued by problems. During Sunday’s contest the Speedtec team once more battled to get the ETEC-Viper in the second spot and pressuring first place. However this time an electrical failure in the traction control system surfaced and the Viper immediately dropped back into sixth place.

"That was difficult to adjust to in the final laps,” said Ribbens, “Because you normally rely very much on such a system. Now I had to press very gently on the gas, because otherwise I would wear out the tires within a few laps.”

The electrical problem was later traced back to the onboard Live Stream camera. It was the first time the team used the system to broadcast live to the local TV station. “We must have hit some cables during the pit stop,” added Ribbens.

It wasn’t a trouble-free weekend, or year, for Robert de Graaff and Philippe Ribbens, nevertheless the two drivers looked back at the season as being highly successful in the long run. “It just wasn’t our weekend,” remarked de Graaff. “But we still finished with second and fourth place, and that’s something the whole team can be proud of.”

The Dunlop Supercar Challenge in Assen also completed the first season for the pair of Speedtec Motorsport BMW Zilhouette Z4’s driven by Leo Van der Eijk and Bas Schouten and the van Vliet brothers Nico and Peter. For Van der Eijk and Schouten it was the first time racing together in the Zilhouettes and they finished their Saturday contest on the podium in third place. The TT Circuit Assen race was a truly impressive first outing for the duo.

Even though the driving team of Robert de Graaff and Philippe Ribbens had several mechanical problems during the season they still finished second in the Supercar Challenge Super GT Division
Even though the driving team of Robert de Graaff and Philippe Ribbens had several mechanical problems during the season they still finished second in the Supercar Challenge Super GT Division
Things didn’t go as well for Nico and Peter on Sunday though. "The engine temperature ran too high, towards the 140-150 degrees (Centigrade). That's just too much, because that should be approximately around the 110 degrees," said Nico. Before the overheating problem the brothers were running comfortably with the lead cars. They eventually finished the race out of the points. Nico and Peter van Vliet still managed to cap their 2012 season with a solid sixth place in the overall point standings.

"It was a year with ups and downs, but we have shown that the Speedtec Zilhouette is a car with potency,” said team owner Peter van Vliet. “Next year the cars will definitely be in the fight for victories in the Supersport-Division, and we will decide this winter to see how we are going to get the seats filled in again in 2013."

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