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An awesome experience and lap record for Nico Verdonck at the 12 Hours of Bathurst

On request from the PROsport Performance team, Nico Verdonck headed off down under to Australia for the first time to take part in the 12 Hours of Bathurst. If on the one hand for the Belgian driver and his teammates the race unfortunately came to premature end, the Brussels based competitor definitely left his mark thanks to his performances and notably producing a new lap record in the GT4 category.

Never before had Nico Verdonck set foot on Australian soil. Since last weekend this has been rectified! The Brussels based driver was at the start of the 12 Hours of Bathurst, the beginning of this season’s top endurance event. “The PROsport Performance team, with whom I had taken part in various VLM races last year, had asked me to compete with their Porsche Cayman GT4 in the company of Fabian Hamprecht, Adam Christodoulou and Jörg Viebahn”, Nico explained. “Unfortunately there was a lack of GT4 machines at the start and we were slotted into another category, with far more powerful cars. Regardless of that we were fully determined to play our cards through to the finish.”

However fate was to decide otherwise. In the first instance electronic problems during qualifying prevented the Porsche Cayman GT4 from clocking up a single lap time. But right from the start of the race, the Belgian driver soon stood out! “I set off from 34th and last place on the grid”, Nico smiled. “This was the first time I had taken a night start, as is the tradition in Bathurst. It was impressive…but I very quickly found my rhythm! During my double-stint I succeeded in climbing up into 22nd spot, third in our category. While on the subject, I significantly improved the reference lap time for a GT4 on the renowned Mount Panorama circuit: the previous record set by an Aston Martin was 2’19’’2, and I lapped the circuit in 2’17’’5, in other words one and a half seconds faster!”

Basing himself on the dependability of the Pirelli tyres, the car’s qualities and the PROsport Performance team’s experience in which it prides itself in endurance races, Nico had every hope of seeing the Porsche Cayman #16 climb up in the hierarchy. Unfortunately it was not to be … “Fabian Hamprecht was out on track completing his double-stint when he lost the control of the car in the ’The Chase’, the chicane at the end of the long straight.  The damage was too substantial and our race unfortunately came to an end there and then … “

If on the one hand bitter disappointment was on the books, Nico nevertheless had numerous reasons to smile upon his return in Belgium. “It was an awesome experience”, he commented. “The Mount Panorama circuit is quite simply magnificent, with its walls one needs to brush passed to retain speed, not unlike Monaco or Macao. PROsport Performance put in some remarkable work not hesitating one minute to drive the 8 hours to solve the car’s electronic problems at an official Porsche dealership in Sydney. The performance was there and the team were pleased with my efforts, so much so that we are presently discussing the possibility of working together more often in 2016.”

On the human front Nico Verdonck also amassed some amusing souvenirs: “This was the first time I read in a briefing note that one needed to be aware of kangaroos crossing the track, or in the event of problems, of a snakes lurking behind the walls bordering the circuit! The fact that they open up the circuit to normal traffic in the evening of the practice sessions is also quite startling. In a nutshell, I truly hope to return one day! “

In the meanwhile Nico is working flat-out on his programme for the 2016 season. “Several avenues are presently being explored, but it is still too early to confirm anything “, the driver clarified.  Patience is called for …

The lap record on video

As from the practice sessions Nico Verdonck had improved the best lap time ever recorded by a GT4 on the Mount Panorama circuit, lapping in 2’17’’8. A performance (that would then be further reduced to 2’17’’5 during the race!) can be seen again and again thanks to the camera fitted to his helmet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwexbhqKZ9I

A real treat!