Scuderia Leone
Mixed results in Spa during SRVN GT3 Round 3
March 26 2018

The GT3 field got to the legendary circuit Spa-Francorchamps as the NK GT3 championship hosted by SimRace Vereniging Nederland in association with Knac Nationale Autosport Federatie (KNAF) reached the third round of the season last Sunday.

After a strong start of the season in Bathurst and some good points in Estoril it was time for the third round of the championship. As always a 20 minute qualifying session followed by a 70 minute race were on the program. Spa-Francorchamps is an interesting circuit. It has very quick first and third sectors with a more technical second sector. This means you have to build a setup that is quick in all sorts of areas in order to be competitive here! Unfortunately Scuderia Leone drivers Denny Mateman and Jeffrey Koopman were not able to participate, but Ruben Correa Alves, Arjan Veltens and Kevin Heijnen were preparing for the qualifying session of the season.

Kevin Heijnen found himself in an extremely close fight in qualifying. The gap from 4th all the way to 21st was just one second! Kevin Heijnen qualified in 15th, placing him in the middle of the pack. At the front of the field it was a very strong session for Arjan Veltens and Ruben Correa Alves. Last round in Estoril we were quite far off of pole. This time we were able to fight. Ruben was the first to put the quickest time on the board with a 2:15.129. About halfway trough Arjan Veltens took over first place with a 2:14.922 which unfortunately ended up being good for p2 on the grid. Ruben wasn't able to improve in his final attempt so he qualified in 3rd. Rival Kevin van Dooren did improve right at the end of the session and put a 2:14.870 on the board, just 0.053 seconds quicker than Arjan!

With rival Kevin van Dooren on pole and then Scuderia Leone drivers Arjan Veltens in p2 and Ruben Correa Alves in p3 on the grid our drivers had to start well in order to get any chances for the win. Although we were very competitive in qualifying our car just wasn't quick in race trim. A very strong start for Ruben saw him overtake Arjan before turn 1 and he braked late in an attempt to take first from van Dooren but without success. Ruben and Arjan came out of turn one side by side after which Ruben let Arjan go first trough Eau Rouge.

Kevin Heijnen had a very strong start to his race. Starting from p15 he was able to climb up to p7 in 10 minutes. After the opening phase a gap emerged in front and behind Kevin Heijnen. This meant that the only thing he could do is push on, drive his own pace and stay out of trouble. At the front of the field it were Arjan and Ruben still in p2 and p3. Slowly some tire issues started to develop, with the fronts wearing out quicker than the rears. typically it's the other way around, but in this case with the fronts going there was more and more understeer.

Towards the midpoint of the race Arjan and Ruben were trying to fiend solutions. Lowering TC settings, altering driving lines, nothing really helped. As extra pressure, Lars Koldeweij, who has scored two podium finishes so far this season, was very close to Ruben throughout the first half of the race. Sometimes Ruben created a small gap, and then just as there was some room the understeer would cause Lars to get back in the slipstream. Just as Ruben was planning on coming in for an early pit stop in order to break the slipstream, a shifting malfunction caused the gearbox to shift down from 4th to 2nd gear with a single downshift. This instantly fried the engine and it was game over for Ruben. Scoring no points sees him drop from the lead to 4th in the championship. He is still in reach of a good result this season but it will be very difficult to fight for the championship in the second half of the season.

The other two Scuderia Leone drivers couldn't really do anything special in the second half of the race. Both came in for a clean pit stop and finished where they've been running for a big part of the race. Arjan Veltens came in in second, and with that taking the lead in the championship. Kevin Heijnen brought home his Ivory Mercedes AMG GT3 in 6th after gaining a spot due to Ruben's issue's. A very good event point wise for Arjan and Kevin, but we have some homework to do if we want to be able to fight throughout the second half of the season!

It's a slightly longer break before the championship goes into it's second half. We'll be at Silverstone in round 4 in 3 weeks time, and typically for a British event it will be a wet race! In the meantime you can take a look at some of the action in the Dutch broadcast below!