A new season, a new challenge: Jaap van Lagen starts this Saturday in the VLN season-opener with a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 from team Black Falcon. In an unexpected move, the Dutchman has decided to switch from racing Porsches to a new adventure with Mercedes-AMG, who asked him to race one of their cars in the 24 hour of the Nürburgring. On the eve of the 61. ADAC Westfalenfahrt, we asked Van Lagen about this new chapter in his career.
“I was approached by Mercedes-AMG, who asked if I was available to do the 24 hours of the Nürburgring with an SLS,” says Van Lagen. “We got together and came to an agreement, after which I was appointed to race with Black Falcon.”
Two weeks ago, Van Lagen–who has yet to make his Nürburgring 24 hours debut–and the successful VLN team had their first outing in the pre-season VLN test on the Nordschleife.
“The VLN test went very well: the team and I were extremely satisfied. I really enjoyed the SLS and was very surprised by its grip and brakes. The car is easy to drive and a real pleasure to drive on the limit!”
In recent years, the driver from the Dutch town of Ede has been very successful racing Porsche, even winning the Porsche privateers prize at the end of last year. In spite of his extensive experience with Porsches, the switch to another brand posed no problem for Van Lagen.
“I didn’t have any problem with [the switch to the SLS] and was fast instantly,” says Van Lagen. “It’s well-known that good Porsche drivers can go fast in any car, and I can also quickly adapt as I do a lot of instructing in different cars.”
Van Lagen finds a teammate this weekend in fellow countryman Yelmer Buurman. The Dutch duo shares their SLS with Black Falcon-regular Adam Christodoulou. With such a line-up, it should come as no surprise that the bar is set high.
“I’m expecting a good result,” Van Lagen admits. “We have three very strong drivers in the car and that may be the most important factor in endurance racing.”
The first race of the VLN season starts this Saturday at noon (watch live on VLN.de), while the Nürburgring 24 hours is set for the weekend of 16 and 17 May.