Jan Lammers – Tough Times, But Absolute Commitment
At Racing for Holland

“We’ve been builders for two months,” says the Racing for Holland team owner. “The guys have done a wonderful job, and I’m sitting here in my new office, overlooking our new workshop (with thanks to Corus, the steel company)….”

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dailysportscar.comThe last time we saw the Dutchman racing in Europe was at Le Mans in June – the two car effort, with the big-name driver line-ups (Justin Wilson, above) – since when he hasn’t raced the distinctive Domes, but he has raced in Grand Am and at Petit Le Mans (before the race, right).

“That’s helped pay the mortgage, but the hard fact is that I’ve been fighting to secure the future of Racing for Holland since Le Mans.”

Jan wouldn’t deny it – he’s had a very tough 2004, which is one reason why he hasn’t been racing in the LMES, but his absolute commitment to his team and what he does (and what he loves) should mean a much fuller programme in 2005.

“Davy Lemmens (Jan’s no.1 man) just came back from Japan, having looked into future projects with Dome. I can’t expect a company like that to just solve our problems, but I’m sure, one way or another, that Racing for Holland and Dome will end up doing something together: co-operation and sympathy for each other's efforts is at a maximum level.”

It’s common knowledge that the Japanese manufacturer is working on a hybrid for 2005-6, and there’s no more natural ‘fit’ than RfH and Dome to take this project forward. The association between the two companies has been remarkably successful on the track, with the Dutchman singing Dome’s praises from the moment when the packing cases arrived from Japan, full of the ‘kit’ that was the first Dome S101. Because everything went together so beautifully, the team was able to get to the first race of that 2001 FIA SCC season, in Barcelona – and success flowed from there.

But racing isn’t just about success on the track…

“My talent is bringing the team together and then doing it on the track,” explains Jan Lammers. “But perhaps taking the Porsche Curves at night is only one aspect of a business like this…..”

Or as Jan puts it another way, “it might sound a bit cocky, but what we can offer people is a combination of; commitment, Le Mans experience, honesty. To have problems with money is one thing, to have problems with people is another.”

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Jan’s commitment (that word again) to his workforce (above - in 2003) is matched by their devotion to him. Not for Lammers the door-closing exercise that has occurred with certain racing teams in the past.

“I couldn’t face anyone who hasn’t been paid by us: to close the doors on what we do here, and have worked so hard for, is simply not an option. My commitment is 100% to Racing for Holland, and our target is to finish on the podium at Le Mans before 2008. We’re going to do that – but at the moment, we’re struggling because, if you like, we have chosen to struggle – we have chosen to keep going, and I will respect those who are owed money, and we will take this team forward. I’m working flat out to solve our problems.”

The distinctive RfH black and white rectangles on the Domes have worked well for the team, but perhaps not quite well enough.

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“Our sponsorship concept is under review, and we’ll have a new concept for 2005, which will be more powerful for us. In terms of promotion and building a support network it has worked very well, but it needs revising so that it really works for us financially.”

At a time when other teams are also going through difficult times in sportscar / GT racing, here’s a man who, typically of him, has been absolutely frank about the position he’s in.

He’s also been fairly frank in the past about how rule changes haven’t been terribly helpful, and the situation he predicted for the ‘lighter cars’ really does seem to have come about now, in time for the 2005 season. But there is a window of opportunity for the hybrid LMP1 cars for the short term: as others have had to accept, it’s time to make that decision – one more year as a (restricted / ballasted) LMP1, or a longer period with a conversion to a hybrid?

dailysportscar.comThe Dome Company has made its decision, and now we need Racing for Holland back on the tracks in ‘05. We still don’t know how many LMES races there will be, which makes budgeting for a full programme difficult, but Jan Lammers is using all his Dutch common sense to have everything in place for next year.

“We’re talking to drivers for 2005, and they know that when they come to us, they get a no nonsense package and no nonsense quality. Depending on how many entries we get for Le Mans, we will decide what to do. For the LMES we plan to run two cars. This year the expectation of running two cars at Le Mans nearly destroyed us. If you plan and invest on running two cars, then also the lobby for drivers and sponsors is based on that. If, like this year, the news comes out that we only have one car accepted, then all conversation with drivers and sponsors usually stops. Then, again like this year, if you hear three days before the preliminary practice that you can run two cars, it is torturing. We decided to go with the best available drivers on the market, thinking this was in everybody’s (including the ACO’s) interest. With hindsight, it turned out that we had all the extra cost for the extra talent, but with about 30% of the income, owing to the lack of marketing time available. Anyway, it is history - all parties learned from it and we will enter into the future accordingly.”

A 2005 customer would secure the advantage of all that Lammers racing experience, of course. Do you remember the story of Jan and the 1988 Jaguar Le Mans win? That could only have happened thanks to his amazing mechanical sympathy, as Andy Wallace and Eddie Hinckley have explained on these pages.

dailysportscar.comHe’s still doing it on the track himself of course: did you spot him in the early stages (at the start here, left) of Petit Le Mans, in the Dyson #20 Lola? There he was, watching the lead group from right behind them, looking after the car, the tyres, the engine – in the early stages of what would be a fine race for he and Chris Dyson, to third overall.

Chris Dyson knows why he chose the ‘Lammers effect’ (Lammers in his car, he in Lammers' car) - and so do we.

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Now we want him back, racing in a full season in Europe in 2005. He did enjoy Petit Le Mans though, and if there was any way that he could make that event possible on the RfH 2005 schedule…. and no one will be more pleased to see him back in Europe than his rivals, which says it all really, doesn't it?
MC

 

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