The Dubai 24h race earlier this month was for me and the Besaplast Racing Team another successful endurance race.
This was the fourth time we tackled the Dubai Autodrome with our MINI and we had high hopes after our previously successful races here.
There is no such thing as an easy 24 hour race, just to finish the race is an achievement in itself and it is easier said than done. As a driver you need to be fit and make sure you don’t make any mistakes.
This year there was 97 cars on the starting grid and we were in one of the slowest cars so the challenge is hard to be able to overtake your competitors and at the same time stay out of the way of the faster cars, and do all that without loosing too much time. You have to watch your mirrors all the time and plan your every move. If you don’t, you will have an accident and the race will be over.
For the team it’s a lot of hard work. Our mechanics have to stay awake for up to 40 hours straight, be part of the strategy and always be ready to tackle any problem as well as regularly change tires, refuel the car, help the drivers in and out of the car and always be around. They are the real heroes and our mechanics deserve all the praise they can get for what they do.
Another important thing for being able to finish a 24 hour race is a well prepared car. Our team change every wear and tear part of the car before the race and makes sure everything is perfect. They can spend hundreds of hours making sure the car is ready for the race.
As always we started our race weekend cautiously and only did limited driving during the practice sessions. We completed a shake down to make sure the car was ready and then we only did the mandatory laps we as drivers had to drive to be cleared for the race.
I shared the MINI with team owner Franjo Kovac and joining us was Henry Littig and Friedhelm Erlebach. Together we are experienced of both MINI and endurance racing and we know each other well which is a good thing when sharing a race car during such a long race.
We decided I was going to take the start and drive the first stint, a two hour long stint which is the longest you are allowed to drive one stint for. The main focus would be to avoid the traffic and problems when the whole field is bunched up together and get us into the race and gain whatever advantage available.
We started on second position in our class and 85th overall, qualifying was never our focus, well aware we had a long race ahead of us. Everything went well and after two hours I had managed to pull out a class lead and placed us 58th overall.
The race continued according to plan which was to do two hour stints before refuel and driver change. Unfortunately the organizers decided shortly before start to change the amount of fuel we were allowed to refuel, something which impacted us and several others in our class. Normally we are allowed to refuel 100litres in the stops but now we were only allowed to refuel 80 litres. During any Code 60 period there are also new rules saying we can only refuel half of the refuelling amount, meaning only 40 litres. So we had to be smart with our strategy and make sure we used the Code 60 periods in a good way and stick to our strategy.
You almost never drive a perfect 24 hour race and there’s always something that goes wrong. For us this happened during the early morning hours when one of my stints was a few seconds too long. We made a mistake with my driving time and it cost us a 120 second stop-go penalty for exceeding the maximum two hours allowed. We also made a mistake of going too fast, something that sounds a bit strange for a race. But in Dubai you normally have a lap time target for each class you are not allowed to go go under. If you are faster you will be upgraded to a different class and this is set before the race. During the morning hours one of my team mates went slightly faster which also cost us a penalty, and we then got a third penalty when another team mate forgot to switch the driver id in the car when he got in the car. The driver id switch shows which driver is in the car which then is visible on the live timing.
So totally we had a 220 second penalty we had to take, meaning standing still with the race car 220 seconds before we could change driver and refuel.
Because of these penalties we entered the morning suddenly in second place in the class and the new class leaders were lapping just as fast as we did, so we had a tough race on our hand. But as we showed, you rarely go through a 24 hour race mistake free and later in the morning the class leaders had their mistake. They also managed to drive a longer stint than allowed and got a penalty which promoted us back in the class lead, a few seconds ahead of them.
A few hours before the finish of the race we started having vibrations in the car while accelerating, it was a drive shaft that started to break down. This made us a bit cautions, we had to drive very cautions out of right hand corners and make sure we could take the car to the finish flag. Pushing the car harder would force us to pit and replace the drive shaft, that would make us loose the lead for sure so we had no choice but to nurse the car home.
We managed to to do that, we kept and extend the lead in the final hours and could cross the finish line as class winners and a very good 38th overall. A great achievement by us and a great start to 2016.
This years race was a bit different from previous years because of the big numbers of competitiors. 97 cars started the race and the traffic was harder to manage than in the previous years. There was alot ot accidents and you really had to be on your toes not to end up in problems.
But we did a great job, driving an endurance race like this rarely is about having the best lap time or the fastest car. If you have a smart strategy and make sure you have margin while beeing overtaken or overtake you will suceed and finsih the race!
As always a big thank you to the whole team and to everyone who followed us over the internet for this first 24 hour race of the year.
Nothing is decided yet on the next race but we will most likely be at Mugello in Italy in March for the second 24-hour race of the season.
The 2016 racing season starts with the Dubai 24 hours where Fredrik Lestrup will drive his fourth Dubai 24 hours, this year in the Besaplast MINI John Cooper Works Endurance.
Apart from a vibrating drive shaft that has had to be replaced practice and qualifying has passed without any drama for the team. With a record number of entries in this years race, 100 cars on the grid which is the maximum capacity, the race promises to be exciting and with a lot of drama happening.
The Besaplast team has qualified first in class and 85th overall ahead of the race that starts on Friday 14:00 local time which is CET + 3 hours.
The race can be followed on the official race web site.
We are starting 85 out of the 100 cars so this will be a race where we are going to need to pay attention to the rear view mirror to handle faster traffic well but it’s cool to have a filled out starting grid. Apart from a broken drive shaft the weekend has started really well and we have pole in the class. We have three other competitors in the class that are quick so we expect a fight for the class victory which we aim to win. The key will as always in these races be to have a good strategy, run a faultless race and handle the traffic well. To be able to run in our class and not be upgraded to a faster class we have a lap time target we can go faster so this will be important to handle during the race so strategy will be key.
Car: MINI John Cooper Works Endurance 1,6T
Time schedule (local times in Dubai CET +3h)
Thursday 14 of January
Free practise 1: 11:30-12:00
Free Practise 2: 13:30-16:00
Night Practise: 18:00-20:00
Friday 15 of January
Warm up: 10:30-11:00
Race start: 14:00
Saturday 16 of January
Race finish: 14:00
Webpage for live results and TV feed: http://www.24hseries.com/live/live-broadcast
2015, what a year!
I´ve been racing professionally since 2005 and I have had plenty of success, winning the Swedish GT championship twice, winning my class in several endurance races at Nürburgring, Dubai, Barcelona, Mugello, finished top three in MINI Challenge Germany, fulfilled my dream racing V8 Supercars in Australia but the Championship victory in the DTC ADAC Procar 2015 must be the biggest highlight of my career.
DTC ADAC Procar is a German touringcar championship and to win such a championship means a lot to me.
The championship has previously been won by big names like Franz Engstler, Claudia Hürtgen and Vincent Rademecker. To add my name to that list is quite special and to win a national championship status series is not a bad thing. I am a German champion in racing 2015!
Before the season, my team Besaplast Motorsport by David Dombek Motorsport had a big task in front of themselves building three cars almost from scratch for me, Franjo Kovac and Kai Jordan. The cars were finished just in time for the first race after many weeks of building and preparation. Amazingly the cars were winners straight out of the box!
David Dombek – my team manager and responsible for building three fantastic cars this year!
Race 1 and 2, Oschersleben 25-27 april 2015
The season started off at one of my favourite tracks, Oschersleben. Ive had plenty of success there before in both MINI Challenge and ADAC GT Masters and it is a track I really enjoy.
We had not driven a single lap with the new car before the first practice session, but the preparations by the team really paid off and we were immediately quick. Being on a track I love of course helped.
We were quickest in the free practice and made some adjustments on the car to fix some issues with oversteer in the fast corners. The car felt really good and it was a lot of fun driving it in the first real session of the year, and be able to start working on the set up right away, not always the case with a brand new car that has not been driven a single meter before the start of the season.
After the practice sessions we had high hopes for the first qualifying, and my engineer Thorsten Isselbächer had done some really good changes to the car. I went 1,8 seconds faster than we managed in practice and took pole for the first race. A good reward for the hard working Dombek Motorsport team.
The first race of the championship didn’t really go to plan initially. With a rolling start and no practixe at all doing it in the new car I ended up using the wrong gear and lost momentum. Heiko Hammel seized the moment and overtook me. I managed to stay right behind him and on the second lap I took a chance when he went took a defensive line on the back straight, I launched an attack on the outside and it worked and I had the better line for the next corner. After that I could focus on my own race and pulled away to take our first victory in DTC ADAC Procar for our new car!
Celebrating the first win of the year
Sunday continued in the same fashion as Saturday with another pole and another race win and this time I had learnt my lesson and made a good start.
This was a perfect start to the year and we left Oschersleben with two race wins and the championship lead.
Race 3 and 4, Zolder 5-7 june 2015
After the perfect weekend at Oschersleben we had high hopes for Zolder, a track where I´ve never been at before so this was going to be a challenge.
We knew Heiko Hammel was pushing for a victory and he had experience from the track and came to Zolder with an updated car since Oschersleben.
My teammate Kai Jordan was also eager to have success after a disastrous weekend at Oschersleben where his car broke down in the first race and forced him to sit out the Sunday race.
Zolder proved to be a really tight weekend. In the first qualifying my team mate Kai Jordan and I had a tough fight between. On the last lap I managed set a time faster than Kai, but only with 0.032 seconds. We were a whole 0.9 seconds in front of Heiko Hammel though but we knew he would be faster in the race than in qualifying.
The first race was tough, I made a good start and could keep my lead but was chased close by Jordan and Hammel. Every lap was like a qualifying lap. I could start to pull away in the last few laps when Jordan and Hammel started fighting with each other. In the end I finished 6.5 seconds in front of Jordan who crossed the line just ahead of Hammel.
My third stright victory and with Jordan now second in front of Hammel I pulled away in the championship points.
First time at Zolder and winning
For the second qualifying on Sunday me and my engineer once again tried some setup changes which helped me improve my qualifying time with 0.7 seconds from the Saturday. Jordan and Hammel also improved but Jordan was 0.9 seconds behind me on second place.
The race turned out to be more eventful than I hoped for. I made a good start and compared to race one I could relatively easy pull away from the challenging Jordan and Hammel.
But with a few laps to go I lost fourth gear coming onto the main straight. Zolder is a track where we use fourth gear on several places around the track so this was tricky. I had to jump from third to fifth on the straights which didn’t help the speed at all but with Jordan and Hammel now a fair way back I could managed the gap and finish first but in the end my gap to second fell from 15 seconds to just 4. Two more laps and I would have lost the lead. If there is something called luck well then that’s just what I had.
Race 5 and 6, Lausitzring, 3-5 july 2015
Zolder was a challenge with tight racing and some mechanical issues. At Lausitzring the car faced a big challenge.
When we arrived at Lausitzring it was high European summer with temperatures up to almost 40 degrees. Our cars has a 1,6 litre turbo engine and we take out almost 300 hp from the small engine and heat is always an issue so this was going to be tricky.
I have raced at Lausitzring before and after some small adjustments to the setup of the car we had confidence to fight for victories.But it would not be easy.
We struggled a lot with overheating engines in qualifying on all three cars in the team. Due to the regulations we are not allowed to change anything on the aerodynamics or cooling to help the car so we had to drive with what we had.
Preparing for the hottest race of the season
I could take my fifth pole of the year but just 0.175 seconds in front of Milenko Vukovich and his Renault Clio.
The first race was a mess. I made a good start, could pull away but made a mistake at the end of the first race and was passed by Kai Jordan. I could barely follow him because behind him I had almost no cooling and I had to keep a distance so the engine would not overheat. Despite that the engine was running to hot and after a few laps I had to pull aside and just coast for a while to cool it down. Vukovic passed me and when my temperature was ok to drive again I had Hammel directly behind me.
Just a few laps from the end Jordan overheated his engine and retired with a failed engine. This left me second lbehind Vukovic vut Vukovic also had heating problems and had to slow down so suddenly I was back in the lead and crossed the line in first position.
The heat was a big factor in this race and with cars tuned this hard everyone was having problems.
For Sunday the team had to change Kai Jordans engine to our only spare so we hoped my engine would still be in one piece after the hard race on Saturday.
Unfortunately it wasn’t and I only managed the out lap for qualifying before my engine failed completely. It turned out it was more damaged after the race on Saturday than we expected and so I had to sit out the rest of qualifying and the second race. It was not fun to be on the side lines and watch the opposition grab points. But despite sitting out the race I was still in the championship lead but only with a few points.
Race 7-8, Salzburg Ring, 24-26 july 2015
With a new engine in the car we were now ready to fight for victories again and the team had done a stellar job to build new engines for both me and Kai Jordan.
Salzburg Ring is another track I really like and it has one of the fastest and toughest corners in Europe – turn 9 where we enter in fifth gear well above 200km/h.
We found a good setup on the car and I could take our sixth pole position for race one, a whole 0.6 seconds in front of Heiko Hammel.
In the first race I could pull away and take my sixth win out of seven races so far.
The second qualifying proved to be much more difficult. Milenko Vukovic had found good speed in his Renault and was faster than me with just a few minutes left of qualifying. I had used my last set of new tyres and had to go out on a used set so I knew I had to take some risks to steal pole away from him. I improved my laptime mainly in the fast turn 9 where you don’t want to take too much risk but risk will give you a reward and it did this time. I ended up 0.175 faster than Vukovic.
The race was one of the best races I have ever done.
I made a good start but was chased by Vukovic and after a few laps he managed to overtake me on the long back straight running up to turn 9. Then we had the best touring car fight I have ever had. We changed position several times, ran side by side for several corners and I ended up out braking him for turn one going out on our last lap. Unfortunately I got a puncture a few corners later and had to limp the car to the finish line. I ended up fourth in the race and grabbed valuable points but after such a great fight for win and taking the lead on the final lap I was disappointed not winning this one.
After the race I was called to the stewards and was handed a 1000 Euro fine for not stopping at the marshal points when I had the puncture. A stupid penalty, with a puncture on the final lap you still drive to the finish line and finish the race but in Austria that was apparently means a fine.
Despite all this I got some good points and could actually increase the lead in the championship.
Race 9-10, Nürburgring, 14-16 august 2015
Nürburgring is a track Where I´ve raced a lot at in MINI Challenge, GT Masters, VLN and 24h Nurburgring. But I have not really been that good in the sprint races on the GT track when it has been wet. With the forecast predicting three days of rain I had a chance to make amends for that.
We made some adjustments on the car preparing it for a race weekend in the rain and my engineer Thorsten managed to make the car perfect.
I was fastest on the free practice with 1.8 seconds and went on to take my eight pole position of the year.
The first race was relaxed and with the speed we had I could just cruise the car to victory and grab my seventh victory of the year. A great job by the team and my engineer made us very strong this weekend and we looked forward to repeat the success on Sunday.
On Sunday I grabbed another pole and just like Saturday I could cruise away in the lead with fastest lap time every lap.
But on the last lap I had a technical problem and my car went in to fail safe mode cutting almost all power. I tried to reset the ECU but stopping and cutting off the power did not solve the problem and I had to focus on just getting the car to the finish.
I couldn’t drive faster than 30 km/h and it felt like I was standing still. Luckily I had built up a big gap to my competitors but they were coming really fast from behind. The gap was big enough to only let two cars through and despite all this I managed to finish third in the race.
I was really disappointed that a technical glitch on the last lap would ruin my chance of another victory.
So it shows that no matter how big your lead you can never relax until you cross the finish line. Still, we left Nürburgring with a win and a third place.
Race 11-12, Sachsenring, 28-30 august 2015
Sachsenring is another one of my favourite tracks, I´ve won races there in MINI Challenge and was one of the fastest cars in GT Masters in 2012 so I was eager to go there after the disappointing second race at Nürburgring.
I had a very comfortable lead in the championship and had a chance to secure the Championship victory if this weekend.
It started out according to plan with pole position for both races. Taking a pole position gives you one point for the championship and I was now closer to achieving our championship goal.
Relaxing with Reinhard Nehls before the race
I led the first race from start to finish. All that was left now was a win in the second race and I would be ADAC Procar Champion.
And so I did! I once again led the race from start to finish and crossed the line as the new Champion!
To win the championship with two weekends to go was very special and I was so proud of my team preparing and building a perfect car.
It felt very special to be German champion with a double victory and I was happy as ever.
Race 13-14, Zandvoort, 18-20 september 2015
With the title in the bag we were still hungry for more victories and Zandvoort is another track I really enjoy racing at.
We were fast but Heikko Hammel was a tough competitor this weekend. In qualifying I also had some problems and had to abandon the qualifying after just a few laps. The time I had set was still good enough for second place on the grid for race one.
I made a good start and could pass Hammel on the run down to the first corner. After that I managed to pull away and won the race, my eleventh race win of the year.
The qualifying for the second race was tight. I managed to take my twelfth pole for the year but just 0.068 seconds in front of Hammel.
Hammel had really upped his game and after a good start I was chased by Hammel the whole race. He was never more than 2,5 seconds behind me but I managed to keep my cool, focus and win the race.
Race 15-16, Spa 2-4 october 2015
Spa turned out to be the toughest race track for us. We had already won the championship but was still doing everything we could to take more victories and Spa is a legendary track where I’ve never raced at before so I really wanted to win here.
But this time we were struggling with the car. It was really nervous in the fast corners, and Spa has a lot of fast corners! We were also lacking some top speed on the straights and had some issues with the turbo that forced us to replace the turbo during the weekend.
In qualifying one I only managed second place behind Heiko Hammel but we knew that with the long straights, the tow you get in the draft would help us be in the fight with Hammel.
Hammel took the start but I took another line for the first corner when he was defending and I managed to overtake him down to Eau Rouge. I kept the lead for a few laps until I made a mistake, had a big over steering moment and Hammel could slip through. After that we changed positions a few times, even exchanged some paint but just a few laps from the end Hammel got problems with his car and I could cruise to victory!
Another great fight but it would have been nice to fight all the way to the end.
Qualifying for the second race was a disaster. I had almost no turbo pressure and could not get a lap time out of the car. I ended up third on the grid for race two.
We had to change the turbo for the race and hoped that would solve the problem.
Unfortunately the last race of the season as an even bigger disaster. On the outlap I had some electrical problems and the car kept cutting off. I tried to restart the car, resetting the ECU but the same problem kept occurring.
I ended up taking the start but after two laps of trying to make the car run cleanly I had to abandon the race.
Not the best way to end the season, but overall we had to be very happy with what we had achieved.
Winning the championship with two race weekends to go, taking 12 victories from 16 races, 12 pole positions from 16 qualifying sessions and all of this with a newly built car without any testing before the season.
I have to thank my team, Besaplast Motorsport by David Dombek Motorsport, for the amazing work before and during the season. This is their victory, without them nothing of this would have been possible.
I also want to thank our sponsors, Besaplast, Licht & Harmonie, LiteBlox, Lightweight, VMAX, Ritzel Autohaus, Pulino Lackierung,
ADAC Procar is closing in on it’s final race weekend of the season with the series visiting the legendary Spa Franchorchamps in Belgium this weekend. 2015 crowned ADAC Procar Champion Fredrik Lestrup arrives at Spa with Besaplast Racing team in high spirits after having followed up the ADAC Procar title with two race wins at Zandvoort in Holland at the penultimate round.
“Another fantastic race weekend for us and this season just keeps delivering for us,” Fredrik says. “Zandvoort is a track I enjoy to drive at, a real old school track so to add two more wins there was perfect and the team once again delivered.”
ADAC Procar finishes the season at Spa Franchorchamps, a track Fredrik just as most racing enthusiasts knows well despite never having raced there. He looks forward to his first race weekend at Spa.
“Spa is one of those tracks you just instantly know is good and is a real challenge for drivers. I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to race there so I am really looking forward to finally be able to do that this weekend. I think our fast MINI will be great to drive and I can’t wait to get down to business at this famous track. It is also a perfect place for me and the whole team to finish off and celebrate a fantastic season for us. With some friends and family joining us for this weekend I look forward to finish this season in style with everyone at Besaplast Racing.”
There’s been practice sessions this morning and tomorrow Saturday the action kicks off for ADAC Procar with Qualifying 1 at 9 am followed by race 1 at 13,00 and qualifying 2 at 17,20. Race 2, the final race for the season in ADAC Procar, starts on Sunday at 11,31.
More information and news at www.adac-procar.de.
With a double victory at Sachsenring Fredrik Lestrup secured the ADAC Procar Championship and was crowned the 2015 champion with two more rounds still to go.
It was a superior display by the Swedish Besaplast driver who went through the ADAC Procar weekend at Sachsenring undefeated to secure the title.
“I am obviously very happy as the German champion and winner of ADAC DTC Procar 2015,” Fredrik says. “It’s been a great year with a great team who works hard and have come so well prepared for this season despite building three new cars for Division 1. The car has worked well and any problems we have encountered they’ve tackled and solved. It feels fantastic to take the title with two more rounds still to go, and with pole in all qualifying sessions and 9 wins from 11 races we can’t be anything but proud and satisfied. Now we’re looking forward to finish off with wins at Zandvoort and Spa. A big thanks to Besaplast and Licht & Harmonie, we did this together!”
Next race is at Zandvoort September 18-20th.
ADAC Procar calendar 2015:
April 24-26, ADAC Procar, Oschersleben (ADAC GT Masters)
June 5-7, ADAC Procar, Zolder (Blancpain GT)
July 3-5, ADAC Procar, Lausitzring (ADAC GT Masters)
July 24-26, ADAC Procar, Salzburg Ring (FIA ETCC)
August 14-16, ADAC Procar, Nürburgring (ADAC GT Masters)
August 28-30, ADAC Procar, Sachsenring (ADAC GT Masters)
September 18-20, ADAC Procar, Zandvoort (ADAC GT Masters)
October 2-4, Spa Franchorchamps