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)….”
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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
RfH black and white rectangles on the Domes have worked well for
the team, but perhaps not quite well enough.
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?
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.
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.
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.
knows why he chose the ‘Lammers effect’ (Lammers in
his car, he in Lammers' car) - and so do we.
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?