D2P introduced its 2021 programme recently, at the very nice Ferrari Francorchamps Motors dealership premises, in Luxemburg. And a unique opportunity to meet the people involved in this new venture. Stephane Corremans, from Liege, is the team leader. D2P is backed by Stephane Sertand, of Ginion Group. John Wartique will drive for D2P in the 2021 Ferrari Challenge Europe races.
Ferrari Francorchamps Motors Luxemburg is located in Windhof, close to the Belgian border. When we arrived, the night was falling. Inside were 3 beautifully-lit racing cars. Nice to see that racing is in the blood of the D2P team members.
Stephane Corremans says ” When I launched D2P- “Driver to Pilot”– 3 years ago, I wanted to do things in a different way. I loved trackdays but hadn’t found what I wanted. Therefore, I decided to create what would be ideal for me, offering high quality services. The bad news are that now I don’t have the time to drive myself anymore (he laughs). We make everything we can for our customers, we make sure they feel at home. Our programme includes no less than 70 track days per year, all around Europe. This means our team members are very often away, setting up or down our “circus” as I call it. Everything must be spot on, all the time and every time. This implies a highly professional team as most trackdays are one-day events.”
John continues: “for example, at Francorchamps, we can only get access to the track round 8 PM the day before an event. It takes till about 2 AM to set up and everything must be ready by 7 the next morning to welcome our first customers turning up. At the end of the day, we only have 2 hours to pack everything up again. We work hard all the time to better our practices and logistics. We question the way we do things all the time in order to gain a few minutes here and there. However, there’s no witchcraft in it, an exclusive high grade level of services means highly qualified people. We just had to quickly find solutions in order to be on pace with our growing activities.”
A 5-star service for a 5-star car… why did you choose Ferrari?
Stephane Corremans says “Ferrari is a real myth and I am not saying this to please Stephane Sertand. Ferarri’s DNA is exclusivity, luxury, passion and excellence. These are the D2P values. As long as we will be alive, D2P will be Ferrari and nothing else ».
At the begining, D2P offered its customers all-inclusive trackdays : fees, insurance, a personal instructor, access to high quality facilities with top of the range food, a dedicated physiotherapist… and a drive in the team’s Ferrari 458 and 488 Challenge cars, of course. However, many customers loved it so much that they bought their own cars but still asked D2P to maintain it for them. That’s how the small team from Luxemburg got involved in the European Ferrari Challenge.
Back in 2019, John Wartique, from Liege, took part in his first Ferrari Challenge race at Le Mans, right before the famous 24 Hours event. He finished 4th overall, right in front of a lot of talented drivers and about 60 contestants. After such a performance, Stephane Corremans wanted to support the young driver in other races. AF Corse came up as technical partner of D2P last year.
John says “during race meetings, I always invite attending people to pay us a visit. One day, at the Paul Ricard track, a lady was very impressed with what we do. Her husband is Amato Ferrari, owner of AF Corse. He came to Luxemburg to meet us and he too was impressed by the way we work, the way we support our customers, from discovering how a car behaves on a track right to taking part in races.
That’s thanks to him that we met Stephane Sertang, now our partner for the European Ferrari Challenge races ». Indeed, the “Francorchamps Motors” stickers have been seen on the official AF Corse GTE cars for many years now.
“Amato Ferrari is a highly dedicated and efficient man to whom trust is paramount”, continues Stephane Sertand. “We supported him from the very beginning and he never forgot it. Car races involve performance but above all, it’s down to men and women and it’s pretty normal that tonight the three of us are together. Car races are a story of teams, people who produce something, technically-minded people as well as drivers. Through such a partnership, we want to attract some of our regular customers to racing events. We want them to discover how to pilot safely on a racetrack thanks to a team of highly-skilled and trained people dedicated to them.”
Last year, John took part in two European Ferrari Challenge races, with very good results again. He won the Portimao first race, no less, and was seventh in the second race. This impressive outcome prompted him to take part in the Spa September meeting, There, he ended up second and third overall as well as third in the Pirelli challenge for experienced drivers. That’s how he got access to the Ferrari Finali Mondiali on the Misano race track and showed such a great driver he is. “That urged me to carry on and take part in all the 2021 races. However, we are not putting ourselves under pressure. D2P is a young team that discovers racing. Obviously, the people around me are experienced in the field and such a dedicated team can only bring good results. On top of that, I will discover new tracks : Monza (1à-11th April) ; Spielberg (1st-2nd May), Brno (29th-30th May), Valencia (19th-20th June), Nürburgring (27th-29th August), Spa (11th-12th September) before the final meeting on the Mugello track (4th– 7th November). So far, I don’t know my Trofeo Pirelli competitors yet. However, the driving standards are really high : at the Mugello finals, the first six drivers were within 2 tenths… I sincerely hope spectators will soon be back on the tracks as Ferrari events are nothing without the tifosi”. Bang on the D2P moto : « stop driving fast, be quick ! », two more Ferraris will also take part in the Challenge- in Coppa Shell series for gentlemen drivers. These pilots took part in many track days with the Belgian- Luxemburgian team and will go racing.
Gino Bux’s new life
Last September, Gino and Steven Spittaels were impressive at the Rallye du Valais, using the Peugeot 208 Rally 4 that belongs to Steven. Unfortunately, the premature end of the rally season in Belgium didn’t allow us to really appreciate them on local special stages. However, Gino didn’t remain idle, far from it. “I took the opportunity to get involved more in the D2P team. Since the beginning, I have been in charge of the coaching side. I will carry on support duties for the rookies but will gradually become team manager as well. I was a close friend of Caroline Grifnee who passed away recently. That prompted me to get involved in that part again, as a tribute to her. However, I won’t be on my own as the D2P-AF Corse agreement stipulates that their technical support will be supplemented by a managerial one. I will have the opportunity to learn from a professional team manager.
That doesn’t mean I won’t act as a coach any more, even though I have a feeling I want something else than sitting right to rookies. I think I can have as much fun being a team member during the races and be satisfied through my friend John’s achievements during the 2021 Ferrari Challenge. Other former drivers successfully changed jobs but I won’t stop driving for now. With my friend Steven and his Peugeot 208, we will take part in the Stellantis Cup. My goal is to win it, not like when I drove in historic racing where I just wanted to have fun and put a smile on the spectators’ face. Being second overall would be a failure!” Watch this space…
The Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo in a few words…
The 488 Challenge Evo arrived on the tracks in 2020. She is the 488 Challenge’s heir, with more aero tech and 670 HP driving the rear wheels.
John Wartique shows us around the interior of the racing car : “It can be very twitchy and sensitive when you want to be in pole position. The rear view screen is justified by some races that take place by night on some continents. However, it’s the aero that’s been bettered, with 30% more downforce. The new Pirelli tyres are 275/675-19 up front and 315/705-19 at the back. During the races, they wear out and it means you have to adapt all the time in order to master the car. Traction control and ABS feature on the car. However, you know that these can’t really interfere if you want to be really fast around a track. Even though it’s a bit on the heavy side, its 670 HP are enough to top 300 km/h on a track like Le Mans… where you just leave the GT3 cars behind! That car can be really fast but driving it faster means you have to get deeply involved. Then, sheer fun is guaranteed. Can’t wait for the race season to start!” (Pictures: Clément Biais – Translation: Dimitri Urbain)