Jaap van Lagen finishes debut season in Porsche 911 as championship runner-upWinner of two races looks back on ADAC GT Masters challengeVan Lagen: Title not lost at Hockenheim but at Sachsenring
Jaap van Lagen (37) can look back on an impressive debut season in the ADAC GT Masters. Up to the final weekend, the Dutchman driving a GW IT Racing Team / Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 was the main challenger to eventual title winners Kelvin van der Linde (18) from South Africa and René Rast (28) from Frankfurt in their Prosperia C Abt Audi. Van Lagen was aided by three different partners during the campaign: Christian Engelhart (27) from Bavaria, Kévin Estre (26) from France and Martin Ragginger (26) from Austria. He topped the table twice and scored a double victory in his home fixture at Zandvoort. Ultimately, he had to settle for the runner-up spot in the championship. You finished your debut season in the ADAC GT Masters as championship runner-up. Are you annoyed about missing out on the title or are you proud of coming second? Jaap van Lagen: "I am very proud of second place. Going into the season, a lot of people were doubtful about whether the Porsche was a serious contender for the title. But thanks to the great effort put in by GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport, we were competitive right from the start and were always up amongst the front-runners. Of course, there were also weekends where we found the going a bit tough. But it has to be said that the Porsche was always perfectly prepared by the team and that we got the setup pretty much right every weekend." What target did you set yourself ahead of the season? Were you actually aiming for the title? "The team obviously set itself the goal of taking the title. Of course, that was highly ambitious, because although the team had contested the title already in 2012, the 2013 season wasn't an easy one for them. I played my part in our title challenge. Working with the team was very rewarding - we definitely helped each other to grow. We never needed to debate things very much, as we were usually on the same wavelength. We had a stroke of bad luck on the final weekend at Hockenheim - the pit stop cost us any hope we still had of taking the title. That was a great pity, but we win as a team and we lose as a team. That sort of thing is going to happen at some stage of the season anyway, and that includes the deciding race. I am very happy to have finished the season as runner-up, because I'm convinced that, even if we hadn't had the mishap in the pits at Hockenheim, we probably still wouldn't have taken the title." What was your personal highlight of the season? The double victory at Zandvoort? "Yes, clearly. Winning in front of the home fans and all my friends was just fantastic. It rained the entire weekend, and we know that the Porsche is an excellent car in the wet. But on that weekend, we led the way in all conditions and in every session. It was just a dream of a weekend." So what was it that ultimately cost you the title? The penalty for the botched pit stop at Hockenheim or finishing outside the points on the previous race weekend at the Sachsenring?"It was the second race at the Sachsenring, when the rear wing was damaged at the start and we realised we had to replace it during the pit stop for the driver changeover. We didn't score any points in a race that van der Linde and Rast went on to win. That gave them a championship lead that realistically we had very little chance of closing at Hockenheim. By contrast, the Audi guys were under no pressure to push during the final weekend and were able to drive a more relaxed race." Will you be back for the ADAC GT Masters in 2015? "I would love to compete in the 2015 ADAC GT Masters. I think it's a great series, and I also like the format. The level of competition in the ADAC GT Masters is very high, and the season was a lot of fun. Ideally, I would like to get back together with GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport and Christian Engelhart in a Porsche 911, but we haven't talked about that yet. I went away on holiday for a few days at the end of the season. I think that we will sit down together some time soon to talk about next season." In the meantime, maybe you should make a bit of space in your garage. Thanks to your successful run in the ADAC GT Masters, you are poised to win the prestigious Porsche privateer award, and with it, a new Porsche. "Yes, the situation is looking quite promising for me, and the main prize is a Porsche 911. I've previously won a Ford Ka and a Renault Mégane in my racing career, but that would certainly be the most amazing prize yet. If I win this award, it will be a fantastic honour, and I hope it will help me in the coming season."