In December 2017, the Formula RP1 Benelux series was announced in The Netherlands and Belgium. The new series would be easier payable by drivers, who all would drive with similar cars, every race the driver would change from team and race engineer. All drivers would be threatened equally. In 2018, the series would make its debut; quickly it was rescheduled for 2019. It is 2019, but what happened?
While Max Verstappen is becoming the next World Champion, the national Motorsports in The Netherlands and Belgium disappeared. Devastated by bureaucracy and a lack of support of the big companies there are only a few race series left. The Dutch Autosport federation KNAF/KNAC and the Belgium Autosport federation RACB under the lead of Michael Bleekemolen wanted to give the national autosport a new impulse. The Formula RP1 Benelux was born, and the first car was shown in April 2017 at Bleekemolens RacePlanet.
The Formula PR1 is designed by French company Signatech Automobiles, and powered by an Renault 1.6l engine. Good for 140 HP with a top speed of 210KM/H. With a weight of 470 kilogram.
The set-up of the championship was unique, I never saw it before, by the hand of the “Arrive and Drive” draw drivers were assigned to a team, every race weekend the drivers would change teams. The original plan was to have 12 meetings spread over six race weekends. Three times at Circuit Zandvoort, twice at TT Circuit in Assen and once at Zolder. Per race weekend two heats would be held, with over 100 minutes of track time per event, which is a good thing for beginning drivers, or experienced kart drivers who are ready to make the next move in their career. The winner of the series would test a Formula 4 car of the MP Motorsport team, and received financial support for their next move, probably Formula 4.
One season in the Formula RP1 Benelux series was estimated on €65.000 euros. This would be an all-inclusive price. Whereby the drivers would get besides the car spare parts and technical support by mechanics and engineers. Also included was catering and one companion. An good package for every starting driver in The Netherlands or Belgium. As the former starting series as the Formula Ford and Formula Renault disappeared years ago.
Those who were interested were invited to come to the Circuit in Zandvoort on 16 January 2018. Twelve drivers who were interested in the Formula RP1 Benelux Series were presented on the track. It seemed very likely that the series had potential. All the 12 drivers were to test with the PR1 on the circuit that day. The series needed 13 drivers to cover the costs and to allow the series to continue in next seasons as well. However, on the 22th of January, 6 days after the testing, it was said that the Formula RP1 Benelux Series would not make its debut in 2018.
The series was now announced for 2019, due the series was announced pretty late in the pre-season there were not enough drivers that could compete, as most of them already filled in their year. This gave the organization the time to make the series more known under the motorsport fans, by organize demo races during race weekends in the Benelux. A new test was planned in September or October the same year. Sadly, after the announcement it became quiet about the Formula RP1 Benelux series.
Last August I was convinced myself that the RP1 would appear on the track in 2019. Current, March 2019, it became very quiet around the stillborn series and I’m far from convinced that the series will ever appear on the tracks. Perhaps I already knew this in September last year. When I went with my best friends to the Historic Grand Prix Weekend at Circuit Zandvoort. By entrance of the circuit, two RP1 cars were stalled, with other cars from Bleekemolen Race Experience. Was this the silenced news that the series was cancelled?
Last December I was searching for information about the dates the series would appear on the tracks. However, I could not find any information about the Formula PR1 Benelux Series at all! The only info you can find about the PR1 and their appearance on the tracks is during the Bleekemolens Race Experience, which you can drive the car yourself. Moreover, in October 2018 one of the RP1 cars was stalled in front of a shop in Sneek for promotional purpose.
Will the series make its debut in the near future? I’m afraid I don’t know the answer on this one. My feeling would say no, but my mind would say yes, as the concept of the Formula RP1 Benelux Series is a good one to help and support young talent. Therefore the Arrive & Drive concept could be interesting as well. Sadly it seems in The Netherlands people are only busy with one thing Max Verstappen winning the Dutch Grand Prix in 2020. While everyone seems to forgotten that the national motorsport is on a dead road…
Thank god the RP1 will appear on the track, and you can drive them yourself with the Race Experiences that are presented by Bleekemolen.