Verlinde sponsors a member of its personnel for the French AutoCross Championship.
18 May 2018
Eric Ghesquière, Verlinde's Maintenance Manager, has proudly borne the flag of his company every year since 2008, in AutoCross competitions. AutoCross is a sport in which any type of imaginable car can take part, even production vehicles. At the end of qualification periods that take place under the aegis of regional membership committees, a final national competition is held pitting the best against each other in a location chosen by the regional committees. Roanne was the venue for The French AutoCross Championship from 8 to 10 September 2017. Eric Ghesquière was ranked 6th out of 120 participants and his wins included an N3 class podium, in the 1,600-2,000 cm³ saloon car category.Eric Ghesquière has become a keen AutoCross enthusiast over the last fifteen years. With his family he devotes most of his spare time to the sport. Verlinde, his employer, has been supportive from the very start of his racing ventures, borne out by the fact that Mr Guhur, the company's former director, became a sponsoring partner back in 2008. Mr Gatel succeeded by Mr Gurniki, followed his example and have renewed their trust in him year by year.
If Eric Ghesquière requested the sponsorship of Verlinde when he started racing, it was because awareness of the trade name, now 160 years old, and its reputation for quality and reliability are aspects that reflect the company's core commitment values. Lifting and handling is an activity tightly bound to car manufacturing and Verlinde is widely acknowledged in the industry for its know-how in the business.
Eric Ghesquière participates with a group N vehicle, ie: the category of standard, mass-produced cars, with a minimum output of 2,500 vehicles per annum, and for which modifications (compared with production vehicles) for racing purposes are restricted by regulations. Group N models, together with their modifications, must be approved by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) before they can compete. It should however be noted, as time goes by, that this category is becoming increasingly dissociated from mass production cars, to the extent that gear boxes, drive shafts or other components mounted for the purpose of racing only are being approved.
Eric Ghesquière fits out his car himself. The vehicle is a 910 kg Clio Williams Group N car, built and approved in 1996 for racing. Its original engine is still under the bonnet, in its Group N approved version and prepared by Technomap (175 HP and 19.5 kg/m). It is fitted with a SADEV 5-speed dog engagement gearbox with low torque enabling a speed of 165 km/hr at 7,800 rpm to be reached. The bodywork is enirely welded with Renault Sport stiffeners, and fitted with a MATTER FIA roll bar. The sport suspension features Bilstein shocks, calibrated to function with special racing springs, ie: very hard. The Carbone Lorraine Group N brake pads have aviation type flexible hoses. The AVON competition slick tyres with very soft rubber compounds are used to counterbalance the effects of restrictions on warming pneumatic tyres before the start to comply with regulations.
Funds contributed by sponsor Verlinde are also used for the preparation and technical upgrading of the vehicle. Eric Ghesquière takes care of routine maintenance himself. Technical and special adjustments are carried out by a garage specialized in this sport. The work comprising analyses, adjustments /settings and calibration must be fine-tuned simply because without it becoming a finalist would be impossible. This type of preparation is as important as the driver's.
Furthermore, the race itself proved the importance of this preparation in no uncertain way, as Éric Ghesquière's third position was due mainly to a bad choice of tyres in the first race segment. The finals were divided into four official segments, the overall classification time giving the average time for the finals. Eric Ghesquière achieved some remarkable times afterwards but the delay could not be completely made up. Even so, his performance was not far behind the two first positions which means that the winning position is not out of reach in 2018.
Éric Ghesquière's list of successes speaks for itself:
- 11 successive qualifications for the final of the French AutoCross Championship which gave 1 class victory for the 2010 final and 8 third position podiums.
- More than 130 class victories and more that 40 group victories.
- Vice-champion of the centre commitee 2016, 3rd several times.
2017 was marked by a class N3 podium, the most prestigious AutoCross category.
Eric Ghesquière and his sponsor Verlinde are aiming for a Group N first position in 2018, the most prestigious category and acclaimed by the French AutoCross Federation. Dual slalom race projects with his own son are being contemplated. The future is assured.
For more information, please contact:
2, Bd de l'Industrie
28501 Vernouillet Cedex
Tel: +33 2 37 38 96 26 /06 07 53 10 43