Jos has new challenge to focus on, Thierry: 'The best coach you could wish for'
Published on 01 April 2021 by Niels Hendrix
Thierry Vermeulen is the name of the latest challenge that is keeping Jos Verstappen occupied nowadays. “Jos is the best coach you could wish for”, confirms Thierry. And so, Jos returns to motorsport as a mentor after having previously coached his son Max Verstappen all the way to Formula 1.
It’s a beautiful day on the Zandvoort Circuit, where tens of Porsches 911 GT3 type 922 are doing laps during the training days of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux and Mobil 1 Supercup. Thierry’s brand-new car is adorned with the number 69 and the car that takes Jos to the track carries the obvious number 33. So, two cars with the same livery on the track which only underlines the visibility of the distinctive duo on the track.
Jos will not participate in the races with his car, but the beautiful looking car is an excellent tool for him as a coach to shape Thierry’s training. Coach Jos, who like Thierry spends as much time as possible on the track, is intensively involved in coaching his new cub. The duo takes turns leading the way, followed by close analysis of the tricks of the trade when they return to the pitbox. Jos: “I give him ideas which he can take to his race engineer Mike van de Kleuver for further discussion.”
“You learn to battle if you drive with two”, recognizes Thierry, son of Raymond Vermeulen, the manager of Max Verstappen. “This is just fun to do”, adds Jos. “I’ve known Thierry since he was in diapers… I wouldn’t have done it had there not been a good chemistry. For me this is a lot of fun. We have something we can work towards together. This is where the challenge lies. How far can we get together? Thierry has it in him. In a short time, he has made big steps forward, but we’re still a long way from the endgame.”
On the table lies an ambitious three-year plan, drawn up by Jos, Raymond and Dragon Investments which supports Thierry with a great partnership. The Rotterdam based investment company, led by Michel Perridon, believes in the strategic project with former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen as coach. Perridon was immediately enthusiastic to support the project with Dragon Investments and as their slogan is “from investment to finish”, he actively participated in drawing up the strategy committing to its success.
When you talk about Verstappen, Vermeulen and motorsport, you know they mean business. This year’s aim is victory in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux, the target in season two is the German branch of this class and in year three the highest podium of Porsche racing: The Mobil 1 Supercup.
After a private test in Portimao the ball started rolling, says Thierry: “Max told me: carry on with this, it’s looking good. My dad then also said: let’s do it.” So, Thierry took the plunge and raced in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Benelux, where as a rookie he won no less than eleven out of the twelf races and was crowned champion in his debut year. Beginning of 2021 the ambitious plan with the cooperation of Dragon Investments took shape and now the next step is competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux championship. Now Thierry is on a crash course with 49-year-old Jos. “Jos helps me pick up on things in order to be ready for the championship”, he says. “He really is the best coach you can wish for. In this class it’s important to find the right set-up and there’s nobody who has a feel for this like Jos.”
According to Thierry the seasoned driver does not go easy on him. “Jos is always honest and direct. He speaks his mind and I like that. It is the best way to learn a lot in a short time. People who are easily satisfied are of little use to you. I hope we can achieve a lot together.”
The three-year plan is aimed at earning a spot in the prestigious and well-occupied Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in 2023. Jos: “This is the class that drives the preprogram of the Formula 1. I find this a serious and interesting project, a great challenge to accept. Formula 1 is not the goal but there must of course be progress.”
Jos continues: “Look, what I did with Max, I wouldn’t do anymore. I was busy with it seven days of the week, it was very intensive. Thierry finds himself in a good team with GP Elite, the entire team can count on my support and experience. I keep everyone on their toes, we want the best of the best.” Thierry fully agrees, “We’re testing in Spielberg, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps to be ready for the first race beginning of May. We don’t want to participate in something without being prepared to the max, we’re here to win.”