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Thom

Kay van Berlo wins at Carrera Cup Benelux debut

What a debut in the Carrera Cup Benelux! During the Pinksterraces at Zandvoort I entered this racing series for the first time and I can rightly say we’ve hit the ground running. After a fine fourth place in the first race on Saturday, we managed to win the second race on Sunday. I’m very happy with our performance at Bas Koeten Racing and I can’t wait to go again!

Things have moved quickly in the last week. I was at the factory for the first time on Tuesday and met with the team. A day later, we performed the shakedown of the car and had a test to get used to the Porsche and prepare ourselves for the races in Zandvoort. I mainly had to get used to the lack of ABS but after a couple of laps, I could go flat out. We had a very successful first test and it gave us confidence for the upcoming weekend.

Free practice was going well, but due to varying circumstances, we weren’t able to put a good lap in. A red flag, traffic, all kinds of stuff worked against us. I mean, we knew the speed was fine but it would’ve been nice to see it on the timing screens. Luckily, we managed this in qualifying. A fine fourth place for the first race and a third for the second meant we could aim for a podium in both races.

The first race was on Saturday afternoon and was being driven on a drying track. Tricky circumstances but I managed to hold my own and brought home a good fourth place. Points at my debut, I’ll take that! It got better though, the second race on Sunday was on a dry track and I had one hell of a start to take the lead in the first corner. After a safety car period I could create a gap and controlled it to the finish to take my first win!

It’s amazing to win only my second race at the Carrera Cup Benelux. Also, Bas Koeten Racing did a great job to get everything ready so quickly and it’s great to be able to pay the team back with a victory.

Kay van Berlo enters Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux

Starting next week, I’ll be driving in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux. After a successful season in, among others, LMP3 in the European and Asian Le Mans Series, this is a great new step in my racing career. I’m expecting to make a new step in my learning curve as a driver.

It certainly won’t be the first time I’ll be taking place behind the steering wheel of the Porsche. I’ve driven this wonderful car in the past multiple times. It’s a great and tricky car to drive, very soft in the suspension. It’ll be an evolution in my driving style because the Porsche demands a certain way of driving. That’s great because I’m here to become a more complete driver.

The first weekend I’ll take part in, will be during the Pinksterraces at Zandvoort. Zandvoort is a real old school track and of course my home race. Zandvoort’s new status of a Formula 1 Grand Prix track is also pretty cool. I’m very much looking forward to it.

I’ll be using the coming races to learn and to achieve my personal goals. De Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux feels like the perfect environment to develop myself and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Apart from Zandvoort, I’ll be driving all the races on the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux calendar:

  • 7-9 June: Zandvoort
  • 19-21 July: Assen
  • 13-15 September: Nürburgring
  • 28-29 September: Barcelona

A huge thirst and a broken gearbox in Thailand

The third round of the Asian Le Mans Series was held at the Buriram circuit in Thailand. With the United Autosports team we ended up in fifth, after a disappointing ending of the race. For a long while we looked set for a podium but a broken gearbox set us back in the last hour.

Testing

We arrived early in Thailand, so we were able to get to know the track pretty quickly. We had done extensive testing on Monday and Tuesday and had a private session on Thursday. That way, we could get a good amount of mileage in and our gentleman driver was able to get
up to speed. We had a lot of confidence going into the weekend and looking at our speed, we thought a podium place would be possible.

Qualifying and the start

My teammate Matt Bell drove in qualifying on Friday and ended up in fifth, which was a fine position considering the fact we didn’t do a second run to save tyres. Matt also drove the start and took the lead after a couple of laps. He held the lead for his entire stint and after his stop, our gentleman driver took over. His stint didn’t go as we’d hoped and we lost a lap and a half and dropped down to fifth.

Thirsty

Winning was out of the question but when I took the wheel for the last two hours of the race, I still had high hopes for a podium. By the way, driving wasn’t easy because our drinking system wasn’t working and with temperatures going into the fifty degrees Celsius, that’s not a good thing. We couldn’t do anything about it, so during my last stop I had to quickly drink some water, so at least I was a bit hydrated.

A broken gearbox

My pace was fine. I went up from fifth to third and with an hour to go, we had a healthy lead of 30 seconds to fourth place when the exhaust broke. This caused the compression box to melt, which broke the gearbox. We decided to go for the finish but we had to drive in fourth gear all the way. We lost a lot of lap time and dropped back to fifth.

The championship is done and this sucks. We can’t take the title in the Asian Le Mans Series because of a technical problem and that’s very disappointing. The only thing we can do now, is take revenge at Sepang, which will be the last race of the season. That one takes place in the last weekend of February.

Our first victory in the Asian Le Mans Series!

What a fantastic weekend we had in Fuji! In a very tough race, we took our first victory of the Asian Le Mans season with United Autosports and it feels great! I had to take a lot of risks in this race and while that’s usually something you try to avoid in endurance racing, it paid off big time.

A dry start

From the very first laps of the weekend, it was clear we had the speed in the car. I’d never been to Fuji but luckily, we hit the ground running and I could do qualifying. I set the third time in the LMP3 class, which meant we had a fine starting position for the race. My teammate Matt Bell drove the first stint and had a great rhythm, when the rain started to fall at the end of his run.

Second place in the first half

We waited for quite some time before we switched to wets because we wanted to be absolutely sure the rain would stay. When teammate Christian England took over the wheel for his stint, we were in second place. Christian also drove a very good stint and when it was my turn to take the wheel, the track started to dry.

Taking risks

On a drying track I was able to close the gap to the leaders but when you have only one dry line, overtaking means taking a huge risk. Luckily for us, the safety car came out and I was able to have a go at passing the leaders at the restart. It worked but immediately after I was pushed wide on a wet kerb by a GT, which cost me four seconds. I had to do it all over again.

That winning feeling

I could hear the team cheering me on in my ear when I chased after the leaders and with less than half an hour to go, I had another opportunity. It was now or never and this time I stayed in front and kept the lead until the flag fell. It’s feels amazing to be winning again and this victory means we’re now second in the championship.

The next race is in Thailand on the 12th of January at the Buriram track. But for now, we go into the holidays with a win under our belt, which is a great way of ending 2018. We have plenty to look forward to in 2019!

4 hours of Shanghai: not an easy start but we’ll be back!

My first weekend in the Asian Le Mans Series didn’t go as planned. At the Shanghai International Circuit, we ended up seventh with United Autosports in what may well be the most difficult weekend of my career. We just couldn’t get the car up to speed, which resulted in just a handfull of points.

A New team

It was a weekend of change, here in the Asian Le Mans Series. I could quickly find my way within the team. United Autosports works differently than I’m used to but it didn’t take long to find my place. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t were we wanted it to be. We could see quite quickly we were lacking pace.

Learning quickly

It’s not easy at a new track, a new team in a new series and with a car you have to share with two other drivers. You have very limited tracktime and in our case, not enough time to fix the issues with the car. My team mate Matt Bell managed to qualify in fourth place, which was impressive. On new tyres, the car was a different animal and actually quite good. The race is driven on old tyres and full tanks however, so we knew it would be difficult to stay there.

Not an easy race

Matt took the lead in a chaotic first lap but after the first stop, things went south. An ill-timed safety car meant we lost a lap and once I took the wheel we were very much out of contention for any big points. The car was difficult to drive and although I managed to bring the gap to the car in front back from 90 to 40 seconds, a seventh place was the result.

Of course, I’m not here to finish seventh but this is the way it goes sometimes. Again, I’ve learned a lot this weekend and we’ll take all of this with us to Fuji, we’re we’ll have our chance to redeem ourselves next week. I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure things will be better!

Pole and podium in a great weekend at Sebring

Last weekend, I drove my first race in the United States. At the Sebring circuit, we drove the IMSA Sportscar Encore with K2R Motorsports and that went extraordinary well! On Sunday morning, we got pole position and on Sunday afternoon, we missed victory by a small margin to ANSA Motorsport.

Lap record

Two weeks ago, we tested at Sebring and that was already a very good start and this form continued this weekend. Free practice went very well and on Sunday morning, I got to drive in qualifying. The car was handling beautifully and I was able to put it on pole position. We also nearly took the lap record, so things couldn’t go any better!

First stint in the lead

I did the start as well and our strategy was to build a gap as soon as possible, so we could save fuel while maintaining that gap. The first stint went exactly to plan and after an hour of racing, we had half a minute on the entire field. The car was perfect and we had great pace, even while saving fuel we were the quickest car in the race. Unfortunately, the safety car wiped our advantage away after the first hour.

Drive through

We decided to pit and hand over the car to my teammate Jim McGuire. That stop didn’t go too well, which cost us two drive through penalties. That meant we had to hand over the lead of the race but a new safety car made sure we were right there with the leaders. But even with Matt Bell behind the wheel in our third stint, we couldn’t regain the lead.

A great weekend

Missing victory is a shame but overall, this was just a fantastic weekend. It all just went like clockwork and it’s a great way of being introduced to racing in the States. Let’s hope we can do this many more times!

Kay van Berlo signs for United Autosport for Asian Le Mans Series

We’re going to have a busy winter! I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be driving for United Autosports in the Asian Le Mans Series, starting in November. A great next step in my career, which will allow me to build on my experience at a frontrunning team, on very highly rated tracks.

My Teammates

After a great season with Eurointernational in the ELMS, I’m already looking forward to the winter. Normally, a driver doesn’t do much in the winter months but that won’t be the case for me! I’ll be driving four races in the Asian Le Mans Series for United Autosports and I’ll be sharing the car with two very talented and experienced drivers: Englishman Matt Bell and American Jim McGuire. I can learn a lot from those guys.

United Autosports

I couldn’t have had a better team than United Autosports. They’ve had a lot of success in the past and, among other things, two LMP3-titles in the European Le Mans Series. Driving for this team in Asia gives me lots of new opportunities and hopefully, something nice for the future. I’ll try my hardest to drive myself in the picture!

The Tracks

The Asian Le Mans Series consists of four races, each four hours long. We’ll be driving at Shanghai, Fuji, Buriram and Sepang. Each track is very challenging and highly rated. I’ve had the chance of looking at these tracks in the simulator already and I think we’re going to have some fun there.

Expectations

It’s a little early to be having expectations for the coming winter season. I don’t know who’s going to be driving where, so it’s difficult to say what the competition will look like. What I do know, is that I’ll be driving for a very strong team, with two great drivers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put on a good show!

The Asian Le Mans Series calendar will look like this:

  • 23-25 November – Shanghai, China
  • 7-9 December – Fuji, Japan
  • 10-12 Januari – Buriram, Thailand
  • 22-24 Februari – Sepang, Malaysia

Mixed feelings after the final ELMS race of the season

The 4 Hours of Portimao signified the end of my first LMP3 season in the European Le Mans Series. Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as we’d hoped but that’s part of racing. In the end, we ended the championship in fourth place, which was mainly the result of a very strong first half of the season. The second half is best described as ‘character building’.

A promising start

The test on Wednesday, a preparation for the coming weekend, went very well. My teammate and I ended up in third and fourth place and I was matching the more experienced drivers around me quite well and I was very happy with that. On Friday and Saturday, we saved our tyres and ran a limited amount of laps. It all looked very promising.

DQ

In qualifying we had our first setback. My teammate Giorgio Mondini had a flat left front and spun, which brought in the red flag. Our car was brought back to the pits and the team drove it in the box. In the ELMS, that’s only permitted after the chequered flag has been waved. It meant disqualification and a start from last place.

A fine first stint

Starting an ELMS race from position 39 is not easy. You’re absolutely on the back of the field and you’ll need to pass the GT’s first. I did the start and we started the race on the same tyres we had in qualifying with – of course – a new front left. That upset the balance a bit in the first laps but after a while it got better and I could find some great pace. I managed to climb up from 39th to 17th, 18th to sixth in our class. I could attack, overtake a lot of cars and I was enjoying myself a lot.

An early exit

Giorgio took over the wheel and in the first half hour he managed to pick up some more places. After 30 minutes however, he came into contact with a backmarker. This destroyed our suspension and ended our race. It also ended our chance of finishing in the top three of the championship. That’s a shame because especially in the first half of the season, things were looking very good. But let’s look at it from a different perspective: this season, I’ve learned so much. I’ve driven a couple of good races and when things didn’t go our way, I’ve always managed to make something positive out of it.

The season has ended an I’d like to thank Euroointernational for a wonderful season. Now, it’s time to look at the future and I can assure you that very soon, I’ll be able to share some good news!

A huge bummer at Spa

The penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series at Spa-Francorchamps turned into a huge disappointment for myself and the Eurointernational team. In the rain, I hit a puddle and spun out of the race, while fighting for a top spot. Very, very sorry because we were having a great race until that moment.

A second home race

For many Dutch drivers, Spa-Francorchamps is like a second home race and it’s the same for me. A great track in the Ardennes, where a drive gets rewarded for his skills. It’s also a track where the weather plays a huge part. The micro climate around Soa has brought many unexpected rain showers in the past and last weekend was no exception.

Practice

Let’s start at the beginning: free practice and qualifying went very well. The car was great and we were constantly at or around the top of the charts. My teammate was in the car for qualifying and he drove the car to second place on the grid, so we had a great prospect for the race. AT the start of the race it was raining already and it just got worse and worse.

Spray

After an hour and a half of racing, I took over from my teammate and immediately realised how bad it was. I never drove in these conditions. The spray was enormous and when you got overtaken by an LMP2, the blinking light of the car disappeared almost instantly. Despite all this, I felt great in the car. The rain was intense but I could find a good rhythm.

An early exit

At Pouhon, the quick left-hander at the back of the circuit, it all went wrong. I went wide at entry and spun on a puddle, while trying to get back on the racetrack. This meant the end of my race immediately.

These moments are always very hard to take, especially because the safety car came out a short while after my accident. Unfortunately, these moments are part of the sport. The only thing I can do, is apologise to the Eurointernational team, take responsibility and learn from this.

So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. I’ll learn from this and focus on the season finale at Portimao. I’m looking for redemption!

A terrible weekend at SIlverstone

Last weekend, we were at Silverstone for the fourth official round of the European Le Mans Series. Unfortunately, we had a very bad weekend. Despite our great pace in practice and qualifying, we weren’t able to score points in the race on Saturday. During the Four Hours of Silverstone we were plagued with technical problems and we couldn’t score any points.

Silverstone

Silverstone is ofcourse a great track to race on. The history of this place is visible everywhere and the British fans are among the most polite and most interested out there. This is what make racing in England so special and the sacred ground of Silverstone is extra special. You want to do well on a track like this and it was frustrating to see that it wasn’t going to happen.

Faulty Gearbox

As I’ve mentioned, we had great pace in practice and qualifying. Everything seemed possible for the race and we were really focussing on race pace, that’s where we’re usually on our best as a pair. Unfortunately, after three laps we had a gearbox problem and it took our team seven laps to fix it. This meant that we were out of contention for a good result.

These moments are there to learn from and we decided to use the race as a test to gain as much data as we could. We were still hoping for one or two points but the race didn’t bring us any luck.

Everything is possible

Ofcourse I’m not happy, especially because this weekend I was quicker than my teammate Giorgio Mondini. Our first half of the season went very well but after losing points in a crash at the Red Bull Ring, this was another dissapointment. Luckily, we’re still in a shared second place in the championship, so there’s still everything to play for. What has happened to us could happen to someone else.

Again, I’ve learned a lot from this weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next race, where we’ll be trying to bounce back as strong as possible!