Image credit: Marc VDS.
The distinctive feline emblem, for which the Marc VDS Racing Team is renowned, will be absent from the GT grid next season, following a decision by Team President, Marc van der Straten, to cease car racing activities after the final race of this year’s European Le Mans Series in Estoril.
The decision was a hard one to make, as the Marc VDS Racing Team has enjoyed unprecedented success in recent years. In 2013 they were crowned as the Pro Cup Team Champions in the Blancpain Endurance Series and they have twice finished on the podium in the prestigious 24 Hours of Nürburgring. This year the team achieved their greatest result to date, with victory in the 24 Hours of Spa, the biggest GT race in the world.
But this success has come at a cost; a significant cost. Racing to win in any series in the closely contested GT3 class is expensive, but when these costs are almost doubled due to financial mismanagement by those entrusted with the responsibility of running the team, it is no longer viable to continue.
The decision to cease car racing activities was made not because of the financial cost, but because of the moral cost to a team that no longer operates with the same principles that Marc van der Straten holds dear and which were instilled in him by his late father, with whom he started his motorsport adventure.
For Marc van der Straten racing is about passion, competition, honour and professionalism. For car racing his passion has now gone, crushed by the deceit of those he thought shared his vision for the Marc VDS Racing Team, but who turned out to be thinking only of themselves.
The Marc VDS Racing Team will continue to race on two wheels, in the FIM MotoGP and Moto2 World Championships, but the final ELMS round at Estoril on 18th October will mark the end of an era, as the team’s distinctive yellow emblem is seen on the GT grid for the final time.
“I owe my passion for racing from my late father, who was a well known figure in the word of motorsport. It was he who gave me the values that I have lived by, who instilled in me the code of honour that relies not on contracts or long agreements. I speak of a time when his word and a handshake were enough to cement a deal, without resort to tons of paper and many signatures. It was eight years ago that I started out on my own in Gosselies with Belgian Racing, to build an ambitious racing team recognisable by our distinctive feline emblem,” explained Marc van der Straten, President of the Marc VDS Racing Team.
“We must recognise that things have changed. So much so that today my passion for racing is gone. Collaborators have betrayed both my trust and the family spirit of our team. I am 67-years-old and I do not have the time left to accept behaviour that disrespects the moral principles I hold dear. I am tired by the lack of professionalism of some of the people I, wrongly, placed in key positions within the team. I’m tired of those who have no other purpose but to financially jeopardise our business, even to the point of bankruptcy. That is why I have decided today to bring down the curtain on Belgian Racing and end my long association with four-wheeled motorsport.”
“Of course, I do not forget our beautiful victory with the BMW Z4 GT3 at the 24 Hours of Spa this season, but it will not be repeated. How can I accept being forced to race in an entire championship just to have the right to race in this one event? The man has not yet been born who can tell me what to do at home, in Belgium!”
“But be reassured, the Marc VDS Racing Team is not dead either, quite the opposite in fact. The car is dead, long live the bike! Since the beginning of our adventure in the Moto2 World Championship six years ago we have had one World Champion and two Vice-World Champions. I have enjoyed these exceptional results, which were achieved by professional people for whom success is the only reward they require. It is a team that has secured great results and built new projects happily and with good humour; what more could I ask for?”