Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Spyker 2007

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2007 Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R - front right side viewDespite all the problems and management changes Spyker cars continued to compete on circuits around the world. The Spyker Squadron entered the C8 Spyder GT2R in the six-round European Le Mans Series, the Sebring 12 Hours and of course the ever popular 24 Hours of Le Mans. Instead of building new cars the two 2006 cars were rebuilt and upgraded to 2007 specifications. One of the cars was run by the private team of Speedy Racing, owned by Swiss Spyker dealer Alexandre Pesci.
In the GT2 class of the European Le Mans Series the cars were moderately successful, scoring a podium finish and some top 5 positions. At the end of the season the Speedy Racing Team beat the Spyker Squadron with a 5th place in the final standings; the Spyker Squadron had to settle for 7th place.
(picture by Nicolas Meunier, used with permission)

2007 Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R - top down viewResults of the 2007 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race were dramatic for Spyker however. Both cars were entered by the Spyker Squadron; the number 85 factory car was driven by Belicchi, Caffi and Chiesa and the number 86 Speedy Racing Team car by Janis, Hezemans and Kane. Despite the experienced and accomplished driver line-up Spyker couldn't make a lasting impression. Remarkable about the driver line-up was that Speedy Racing Team drivers Belicchi and Chiesa were now placed in the factory car while teammate and former Formula 1 driver Alex Caffi competed against Spyker in a Ferrari 430 GT in the European Le Mans Series that same season.
The number 85 car was withdrawn after just over 12 hours of racing with terminal transmission problems, after the car had survived a spin and an off in the preceding hours. It took only slightly more than 7 hours of racing for the number 86 car to break down beyond repair. Driver Jarek Janis stopped the car beside the track 2 hours before with serious mechanical problems and ultimately it was entered into the pits to never leave again.
As the Le Mans race is stipulated by Spyker as the main event for proving the quality of their cars and establishing their name, the failure to finish was both a disappointment and a severe setback in an already very difficult year.
(picture by Nicolas Meunier, used with permission)

2007 Spyker Ferrari F8-VII - front side viewSpyker's Formula 1 Team should have been the crown on the efforts to promote the make by racing. Unfortunately things panned out very differently and instead of a crown the F1 Team became the proverbial stone around the neck of the company. Two cars were entered for the 2007 season.
The chassis appeared quite similar to that of 2006 but was in fact a new design by John McQuilliam. It was dubbed the F8-VII, referring to it being a Formula 1 car with 8 cylinders for 2007 (that last bit in Roman numeration). Later in the season it was upgraded into a B-specification by technical director Mike Gascoyne.
More striking about the 2007 Spyker F1 car was its engine. The Toyota engine used in 2006 was now replaced by a Ferrari unit which was expected to be more competitive. This Tipo 057 V8 engine displaced 2398 cc and produced over 700 hp @ 19000 rpm. No need to say that this premium engine deal took a large chunk out of Spyker's F1 budget.
Yet it didn't bring the results that were hoped for. The new chassis proved to be more solid than it was quick and the aerodynamics were less efficient than that of competing designs. It resulted in a car that was hard to set-up correctly with consequent lack of grip and speed. The Ferrari engines turned out to be reliable but weren't able to give the car an edge over the competition.

2007 Spyker Ferrari F8-VII - rear side view At the start of the season the Spykers were piloted by Christijan Albers and Adrian Sutil. Albers lost his seat after 9 races due to sponsor problems and disappointing results. Sutil on the other hand surprised many by driving consistently and getting the most out of the car. Markus Winkelhock replaced Albers for 1 race (and managed to lead the race for a few wet laps) and for the rest of the season the seat was taken by Sakon Yamamoto, a fairly nondescript driver who brought a fresh infusion of money into Spyker's F1 effort.
During the season the cars had a hard time finishing higher than 14th place and finished more often than not last. Highlight of the season was the race in Japan were Sutil was classified 8th and scored the team's first and only point. Like in 2006, Spyker placed again in 10th spot in the constructors championship and would even have been last if the McLaren-Mercedes team hadn't been stripped of all points following rule infringements.

Near the end of the season it became clear that Spyker wasn't able to support a F1 team any longer. The company was losing money on a big scale and had to take cost-cutting measures. After the season had ended it was announced that the team was sold to Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya, the 664th richest person in the world, and would be renamed into Force India. This ended Spykers involvement in F1 but remarkably former Spyker CEO Michiel Mol remains a stakeholder in the Force India team.

Who would have thought that entering a new century would include the resurrection of Spyker? More than 100 years after the first Spyker prototype a new one appeared. After a lapse of exactly 75 years Spyker production has been resumed and hopefully it brings forth the same engineering excellence for which the original company was renown. One thing seems for sure: Spyker cars will remain a rare sight on the road and only affordable for the extremely rich. A pity really....

Used sources for this tour:

  • "Spyker 1898-1926" by Vincent van der Vinne; publisher De Bataafsche Leeuw, Amsterdam 1998. ISBN 90-6707-468-3
  • The official Spyker Cars website

Have you seen any classic Spyker cars in museums or collections which are not shown in this tour? Please let me know!

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