After having to deal with a difficult autumnal period, V de V Sports is proud to officially launch the 2019 season. Eric Van de Vyver, founder of the V de V Endurance Series, speaks about what happened during the latest months and give some details about the next season which promises to be more exciting than the previous ones.
The latest weeks not to have been easy… Did you expect the withdrawal of your tyres partner who joins a rival championship?
I’ve been really surprised by the decision of some “partners” which feels like a stabbing. It’s been 28 years since I first organised championships and during the previous years the series worked pretty well. For sure some things had to be improved, but we had plenty of LMP3 and we promised to the teams to change everything that was wrong. We had a meeting in Estoril and they seemed to be happy. It was a chock to hear that this “partner” was leaving at the end of the season. I didn’t understand at the moment, but I’ve quickly understood that the tyres fitter wanted to do exactly the same than V de V Sports. Fortunately, I could count on professional and family support. Lots of teams are also supporting our efforts to move forward. That’s why I’m still fighting. It’s crazy what’s happened today in motorsport. As an organiser, my job is to be the link between the competitors and all the peoples involved to make it work and correct what is needed. With tyres, for example, to make sure they are more enduring, efficient and comfortable… However, if a brand tyre dealer becomes organiser, the competitors have to deal with, and if the tyres are not good, basically they only have to shut up…
You have been able to fall back on your legs thanks to the partnership with Dunlop and ORECA. Can you please explain their mission?
For 6 years and despite strong rivals, Dunlop has been at the forefront of the LMP2 category. Their tyres will be derived to the LMP3 prototypes. They are competitive, as the numbers of victories have shown in the past. Dunlop is confident to be able to offer a pleasant, resilient and competitive tyre. ORECA will supply, mount and balance the tyres during the meetings. We are currently working on organising tests in the off season, and the teams who won’t take part to those sessions will have the opportunity to test on Thursday before the meeting in Barcelona. Whatever happens, we will develop a good tyre. I’m fully confident because Dunlop knows the job! Like in the past ORECA will continue to ensure the technical support of the LMP3 and Formula Renault, but also some others cars. I wish to take advantage of the seriousness of ORECA to extend the technical scrutineering.
What will be the main directions for the LMP3/GT/Touring/PFV European Endurance Challenge in 2019?
We will continue to mix GTV, LMP3 and PFV. We will authorise the GT cars to be modified in order to achieve better performance in the GTV1 category. In doing so, they will have the opportunity to compete against the PFV for a greater fight between all the types of cars competing in the Challenge. There are only small adjustments to do to allow them to play at the forefront. We will find some solutions to make them challenging for the pole and overall victory. We don’t want to let them win and penalise the LMP3, but offer to everybody the same chance. It could be fun to have a LMP3 win one day, and a GT win in the other day. The latest generations of GTV1 are really fast. As for the Renault R.S. 01, we could modify the aerodynamic impact, the size of the fuel tank… We’re working on it.
Are you confident to attract enough competitors to offer an attractive category?
For sure, what happened during the latest weeks has delayed decisions of some teams who compete with LMP3. The demand was huge, but with what happened, some teams prefer to wait and to know exactly what each organiser has to offer. It’s basically a negative image for the LMP3 cars, because we had a great championship – 16 of them were on the grid in Estoril, and there’s not so many LMP3 in Europe -, new teams were with us in Portugal for a full time commitment in the future, and some who wanted to go for it are now just observer. It’s sad to have broken a championship who was working pretty well. 2019 promised to be a huge season. It’s now our job to redress the balance, and I know I can count on the support of team managers who know who I am and who put their trust in me. It’s a little bit hard for the moment, but the situation starts to turn out in our favour.
You also announce that the Proto Endurance Challenge is back! Can you explain what is the Proto Revolution?
It’s a brand new prototype with an innovative design launched in Silverstone while we were in Estoril. It’s build with a carbon frame, a 330bhp V6 engine, and the weight is around 700 kilos. Dunlop supply the tyres and the price is around 100 000€. It’s very attractive, because we need to reduce the budgets. If we can offer costs of 6-7000€ per drivers for each race, it starts to be interesting. My wish is to mix the Proto Revolutions with the CN cars, maybe the Radicals and some others cars such like the Endurance Funyo as it was initially the plan. They will compete in 3 hours races, with one or two drivers, and will be offered two or three hours of Free Practice and only one set of tyres to reduce the costs. The Gentleman driver will take part to the qualifying and start the race, and the Pro driver will conclude because his job will be to save the tyres to go to the chequered flag. The Proto Revolution will be the reference and we will adapt the performance of the CN cars to have the same level of speed and costs. The Challenge will start in Magny-Cours, as it’s not sure that enough teams will be ready.
We know that you are very concerned by historic cars. Will the 2019 season be as attractive as 2018?
We don’t change what is initially working. What we offered last year seduced everybody. My plan is to propose two Free Practice of 45 minutes, a 20-30 minutes qualifying session and two one hour races for the French meetings in Magny-Cours, Circuit Paul Ricard, Dijon and Le Mans. In Navarra, we will organise a 3 hours races with refuelling and 3 hours of Free Practice. The competitors want to come back to the concept of endurance.
The single seaters will also make the show. What are the plans for them?
The teams are shared between the other organiser and us. I know our rival is doing lobbying in promising impossible things. If I don’t have enough competitors, we will have to cancel our challenge, but for sure my wish is to pursue the adventure. Some teams who compete with LMP3 cars want to race with single seaters and the salvation could come from them. I’ve also spoken with teams such like Formula Motorsport and TS Corse, and they put their trust in our organisation. We would be back in a format like in 2017. As some people are coming from far, we would allow them to rent the track on Wednesday or Thursday before each meeting. Our only wish is to make them happy, and I’m sure we will get there.
The Funyos have chosen to compete elsewhere. Will they be replaced by others categories?
The TCR will be in Barcelona, Castellet, Navarra and Estoril, and we have some requests from different series. I’m very disappointed to have lost the Funyos, because it’s a category I’ve created 15 years ago and I loved it… It worked very well, but the new owner of Funyo manufacturer wish to organise the championship by himself. Seeing the direction which has been taken, the competitors have to know that it won’t be the same story than in our meetings. I don’t understand, but what can I do? I let to the teams and drivers the choice to decide what they consider to be the best for them. As far as many competitors are coming in our meetings, and the categories are interesting, the peoples will be happy. It’s our main concern.
Finally, on which partners can you already count on?
Dunlop will be the main partner, Charriol watches remain faithful and ORECA, once more, will help us in supplying spare parts. I’m also currently changing the philosophy of the V de V’s staff as one or two shareholders will join us. They have a good knowledge of motorsport and trust in what V de V is doing. They will help me in numerous of areas and thanks to them, the show will go on.