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Benelux: van Gastel wins with 966, full Serpent podium (27/07/2010)


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Serpent 966 1/8 scale 4WD EVO, Serpent 966 -TE 1/8 scale 4WD, Serpent 966 -TE v2 1/8 scale 4WD

Full podium finish for Serpent:
BENELUX CUP in Genk, Belgium

On friday the track was open for free pratice. The track was treated with a special mixture of Water and (alot of) sugar to improve the grip, this worked really wel. Because the track is alongside a motocross circuit alot of dust is blown over it, esspecially on a warm, dry and windy day. Spraying the track with sugar and water helps alot.
Because the track was treated the car had alot of steering and rear grip was hard to find. After some huge setup changes the steering was reduced and along came the rear grip. :D After running-in an engine the first pratice day was over and I was happy with the performance of the car and engine.
On saturday morning we had another free practice session. So I was able to run-in an second engine for backup and fine-tune the setup of the car further. About the car setup, I mainley placed the softer fixed ant-roll bar, stiffer front AND rear springs and 3mm less downstop in the fron AND rear (it was 7mm rear and -2mm in front and I changed it to 10mm in the rear and +1mm in the front) Because of these changes the car was easy and constant to drive and to my satisfaction.
In the afternoon we had the first 3 qualifying rounds and the 4th was on sunday morning. The first 3 round were OK but I was still missing some speed on Ilia van Gastel and Gunther van Staay. after 3 round I was on 3rd spot with almost 12 seconds behind Ilia, but was not yet happy with the car/engine. Overnight we took the car apart and checked evrything. We made some minor roll-center changes and waited to see what sunday could bring us.
On Sunday morning the track was alot better, and the roll-center changes worked out really well. In the last round I improved my time with almost 12 seconds! Because there were alot of crashes on the track I made a small mistake which costed me about 1,6secs after the heat that have would been the pole. Ilia was also improving his time, but during the heat just after refueling a marshal was bringing a car back to the pit and Ilia accidently hitted him which caused the front suspension to break.

Standings after 4 rounds:
Nr.   Driver   Nat   Laps   Time   Car/Engine
1    VAN GASTEL ILIA   BE   28    7:09.119   Serpent 966 / Mega
2    ERMEN JOHN   NL   28    7:10.508   Serpent 966 / R&B C10
3    VAN STAEY GUNTHER   BE   27    7:03.048   Kyosho / Novarossi
4    HEREIJGERS MIQUEL   NL   27    7:13.710   Serpent 966 / R&B C10
5    BOURGEOIS MICHEL   BE   27    7:14.660   Mugen / Novarossi
6    SMOLDEREN TOM   BE   26    7:01.246   Serpent 966 / Picco
7    HALING DAAN   BE   26    7:02.255   Serpent 966 / Picco
8    MANTEN ARIE   NL   26    7:05.332   Mugen / R&B C10
9    BAGGEN FRANK   NL   26    7:06.480   Serpent 966 / Novarossi
10    LENAERS JOHN   BE   26    7:15.469   Serpent 966 / Novarossi

The semi finals were droven on wet / semi-wet conditions and just 2 minutes before the start of the final it began to rain again. The race director then decided to postpone the race for about 30 - 45 minutes because the weather was starting to change. This was a good decision because the track dried really fast and after they treated it again with some more grip enhanced special mixture ;-) we could start the final.
At the start evrybody had a clean start - as far as I could see. Ilia, myself and Gunther were on spot  1,2 and 3. after 5 minutes Ilia was able to pull away from Gunther and me. I knew that Ilia and Gunther planned a tire change and I was not changing any tires so mid-race I could close the gap easily. Till the 20 minute marker Gunther and I switched places frequently and it was very close racing and I supose nice to watch too;-). Mid-race Ilia and Gunther both came in to the pit and I took over the lead. Mechanics of Gunther made a small mistake with the tire change and put back on a used tire on one side. Ilia however was now a lap behind me but was closing in very fast. I was able to hold the lead for about 10 mins till the end. At this point Ilia was on a roll and took over the lead just after a fuel stop. I knew then that I could never gain him because he had bigger tires than me. Ilia won the race with me 1,5 lap behind him. Gunther had to retire just 4 minutes before the end because of a broken or empty battery pack. My nephew Miquel was able to take the 3rd spot just before the checkerd flag.

Final Standings:
Nr.   Name   Nat   Lap   Time   Car/Engine
1    VAN GASTEL ILIA   BE   173    45:13.674   Serpent 966 / Mega
2    ERMEN JOHN   NL   171    45:11.635   Serpent 966 / R&B C10
3    HEREIJGERS MIQUEL   NL   159    45:03.504   Serpent 966 / R&B C10
4    LENAERS JOHN   BE   155    45:13.247   Serpent 966 / Novarossi
5    VAN STAEY GUNTHER   BE   154    41:32.982   Kyosho / Novarossi
6    HALING DAAN   BE   150    45:06.677   Serpent 966 / Picco
7    MANTEN ARIE   NL   150    45:08.614   Mugen / R&B C10
8    BOURGEOIS MICHEL   BE   135    36:43.223   Mugen / Novarossi
9    BAGGEN FRANK   NL   113    33:34.678   Serpent 966 / Novarossi
10    SMOLDEREN TOM   BE   8    3:04.064   Serpent 966 / Picco
A nice race with a good result! Next race will be the 4th Dutch national on the tight and small circuit in Gouda in about 2 weeks. Lets hope for some good weather and the same (or even better) result!
I would like to thank Jonathan for the fast refueling and pit work during this weekend. And of course Serpent Motorsport, RB Products and Tornado for their support!
till next time,