Jaap Van Lagen hopes that his strong showing at the Dubai 24 Hours will help earn him further opportunities with Walter Lechner’s eponymous team.
The 39-year-old impressed by setting the fastest lap in the 991 class and was integral to the No. 40 Lechner Racing Middle East’s five-lap victory over the sister no. 81 car, placing 11th overall. Speaking to Racing.GT, Van Lagen said he would relish the opportunity to further his partnership with the 2015 Porsche Supercup teams champion, which also organises the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
“Last year Sven Muller could not do two events so I did some races with Lechner at Hockenheim and Lausitzring in Carrera Cup Germany. [Lechner] gave me the chance for Dubai and I’d really like to stay with him because he’s had so much success in the Porsche Cup – if he wants to go 24 hour racing with a GT car, he will do it really well,” van Lagen said.
“He has some really good mechanics, good engineers, he’s a real winner. If he does something, he does it properly, and I’m exactly the same.”
The versatile Dutchman raced a part-season with Lada in the World Touring Car Championship and took an excellent fifth at the Nürburgring 24 Hours last year, but still holds ambitions of a full season campaign in Supercup. In his last regular campaign in 2010, van Lagen finished fourth on countback to Norbert Siedler, despite missing two races, and won three times in the equally competitive Carrera Cup Germany between 2011 and 2013.
“I’d really like to do a full season with Lechner or Alex Fach; I did one full season in 2008 with Kadach and did the full season in Carrera Cup three times, but never with proper testing or anything like that because the budget was not enough. Without that you can’t win championships,” he said.
However, with budget constraints a continual hurdle, van Lagen recognises that further one-off appearances, one of which resulting in a high-profile Supercup victory at Monaco with Fach Auto Tech, may provide his best route to success.
“Monaco was unbelievable – Alex Fach called me on the Tuesday and asked me if I was available, so I of course said yes,” he continued. “I’d never driven with him before, but we’d talked many times together, and he was champion in Supercup with Earl Bamber the year before. I booked a flight on the Tuesday evening, I arrived on the Wednesday, on Thursday I was second in free practice, Friday I qualified P1 and Sunday I won the race!
“As a guest driver in a new team you cannot say ‘this setup is not correct, I want to drive this way’ because then you’re out, that’s not the way to work. I’ve driven for five or six different teams with different setups, different engineers, different mechanics and it’s hard to be in the front immediately, but at Monaco after five or six laps of practice I came in and said to Alex ‘the car is really good, tomorrow in qualifying, I’m sure I will be in the top three.’ In the end I was P1 and at Monaco if you don’t make any mistakes you can win!”