Richard Morris and Milan De Laet Win Zandvoort Trophy of the Dunes
Photo: Daniel Burgin
Milan De Laet returned to partner with Richard Morris at the prestigious Trophy of the Dunes, organised by VRM as part of the Dutch Supercar Challenge series, held at Circuit Zandvoort in September. The pair had last driven together in Barcelona at the start of the season, claiming victory despite having been forced into a pitlane start. Since then, Richard had claimed a pair of podium finishes at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit followed by two wins on the Grand Prix circuit at Donington Park in the European Sports Prototype Cup.
With Richard having won at Zandvoort on his debut for Revolution Race Cars in 2022, and Milan possessing local knowledge of the circuit having driven it in junior categories, hopes were high that the pair could continue their impressive form at the head of a 3-car effort of Revolution 500SC prototypes joining the sizeable grid of 30 prototypes, GT3s, GT4s and other invited categories contesting a race with a history stretching back to the 1960s.
A real challenge for the Revolution team and drivers was having to switch from the Goodyear tyres used in the Sports Prototype Cup series to the Pirelli rubber mandated for this event. This meant, in practice, that there was very little time in the couple of test sessions available to dial in a set-up on tyres with very different properties. Nevertheless, a confident qualifying performance saw the pair put the car on pole position in class for both their Saturday race and the main feature race to come on Sunday. Both races were to last 60 minutes of the Dutch Formula One Grand Prix circuit, with a mandatory stop to change drivers and refuel.
Glorious weather at this coastal venue persisted through Friday and Saturday, although preparations for Saturday’s race were not entirely smooth. Taking the first stint, Richard reported an issue to the mechanics on the grid after his reconnaissance lap. The mechanics burst into action and were able to get the car into a raceable condition just in time to clear the grid for the formation lap. While the problem was not entirely solved, thankfully the car was ready to take the start. This hard work was rewarded with an assured team performance. Richard handed the car over to Milan from the lead of the class, and a smooth stop and flawless stint from Milan saw the duo take the win.
Rain on Sunday morning cleared and the track dried just in time to fit slick tyres with confidence when sending the car to the grid. A bustling grid walk then gave the many spectators who travelled to Zandvoort the opportunity to see the full pack of striking machinery up close.
As usual, the driver order for the second race was the reverse of the first race, meaning that this time Milan took the start. A hugely impressive long first stint saw Milan securing the class lead, constantly harrying the 3 BMW M6 GT3 cars leading the overall order, and pulling away from the rest of the pack.
Richard left the pits on the tail of the car in third position overall, which had also just completed its driver change, leading to a hard-fought ‘elbows out’ battle. Within just a few laps, though, Richard was able to pull off an assertive overtake into turn 1 to claim a position on the overall podium. Within just a few laps, the face of the race changed completely. With one of the two BMW M6 GT3 cars ahead making a mistake on one of the circuit’s many unforgiving gravel-lined corners and spinning off, and the other suffering an issue at the pit-stop, Richard emerged in the overall lead of the race!
Carving through the backmarkers created by a large grid, Richard had plenty on his plate still and did come under a lot of pressure in the closing laps from the closest pursuing GT3. Entering the last lap tucked up behind a trio of backmarkers, a string of forceful overtakes right up until the final chicane was needed, all in the knowledge that any loss of momentum would risk letting the lead slip. However, Richard was able to clinch a thrilling victory by just 7 tenths of a second at the end of the 60 minutes to take the overall win and claim the Trophy of the Dunes 2023!
To make the weekend even more special, Richard was joined at the circuit by several members of Racing Pride based in the Netherlands. There were Racing Pride members among the marshals, officials, media, and spectators present at the track, showing what a truly international movement Racing Pride has grown into.
Reflecting on the weekend’s achievements, an emotional Richard said: “It’s hard to put this amazing weekend into words. Of course, firstly I have to thank my team-mate Milan and Revolution Race Cars for their part in the incredible performance which led to us coming away with the Trophy of the Dunes: a real team effort. This circuit has been special to me since I won here on my debut with the team last year and I’m in love with its unique location and combination of banked, undulating corners.
The weekend was made even more memorable for me by being able to share it with the Racing Pride members among the circuit officials, marshals, and spectators, as well as the close friends who came to support me. Being able to bring a group together to celebrate with me, and to connect with each other, both at and after the race, was really moving. Sometimes it’s almost overwhelming when I travel to other countries to race and find myself surrounded by love because of Racing Pride and what it means to people. Seeing marshals jumping and punching the air for me after I crossed the line was something I never expected to see, let alone in another country. I will always treasure these memories from an amazing weekend in Zandvoort.”