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Carlo van DamDutch racing driver Carlo van Dam left the Spanish circuit of Jarama with mixed emotions today after the final races of the 2009 Superleague Formula series. After a troubled qualifying session and first race, Carlo started from sixth position in the second race and he was convinced that he and PSV could conclude the season with a good result. Shortly after the start, however, van Dam was driven off the track by Esteban Guerrieri.

“A shame, really. I had arrived here wanting to do give PSV a good result at the end of the season”, Carlo says. “In qualifying the car did not handle very well unfortunately, as we hardly had any traction and then you are pretty much finished around here. In the first race I could make up a few places as quite some drivers got into trouble. Consequently, I started the second race from the third row, from sixth position. I was pretty confident and gained a place at the start, but then, going into the first corner, Guerrieri [Olympiacos] just drove into me. I guess he never bothered to brake at all. My race was over on the spot. A real pity, because although we may not have had the ideal setup here, we would have been able to get something together in that second race. And PSV and the team would have deserved that.

“I want to thank PSV and the team for the races I was asked to do for them this year, and I would like to compliment Superleague Formula with their championship, because like I said before, I was pleasantly surprised by the cars, the organisation and the competition.

“This has been an eventful year for me and it is now a case of putting together 2010. All sorts of things are going on at this moment and sometime in the next few months I hope things fall into place.”

Photo by Superleague Formula

Carlo van DamDutchman Carlo van Dam today impressed during his first outing in the Asian Le Mans Series. At the Okayama-circuit in Japan, where he had yesterday claimed pole position in the Saleen S7R entered by the French team Larbre Competition, he drove the car into winning position in the GT1-class during the first 500 KM-race of the weekend. Shortly after Carlo handed over the Saleen to his Belgian team mate Lemeret, however, the car’s front suspension broke, ending what looked like a run to victory in the GT1-class.

“It went really well”, says Carlo, who was satisfied with his race despite the car not making it to the finish. “Berville, my other team mate, did the start and although we knew he might have some difficulty maintaining first position, he managed to not lose too much time. It was my turn then, and from very the first lap it just went great.

At the end of my stint I had taken the car back into winning position and it looked like we were indeed going to win this race, but then, unfortunately, the front suspension broke.” The press release issued by the organisers after the race, wrongly stated that Carlo was behind the wheel when the Larbre-Saleen retired. “In fact, I had already handed the car over to Lemeret by then”, Carlo explains. “After he had done some three laps, the suspension failed.”

Despite this spoiling what looked like a certain class-win, Carlo still had a good feeling about the race. “I had a good race, got the best out of the car and took it into winning position. The team was happy with my performance, so all in all this wasn’t a bad day, although I would rather had seen us finishing and winning the race of course!” Tomorrow (Sunday), the second 500 KM-race of the Asian Le Mans Series-weekend at Okayama will be held, in which the Larbre-Saleen S73 will again start from pole position.

Photo by Moriyama.

Carlo van DamCarlo van Dam today scored two tenth places for PSV in the Superleague Formula-races at the circuit of Estoril in Portugal. Carlo made his debut in the series this weekend and despite his first outing proved challengingly difficult, he looks forward to the remaining rounds.

“Let me first stress that I was pleasantly surprised by the Superleague Formula”, Carlo says. “The series, the cars and the organisation certainly exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t easy, especially since we couldn’t get our car to get around the slower corners properly here. Then, in the first race, the semi-automatic shift system of my car failed several times and I could not shift down, so that cost me a couple of places unfortunately. So we are far from there yet, there is much more speed to find in our car, but this was a good experience and I am enthusiastic.”

Photo by Diederik van der Laan

Carlo van Dam will tomorrow start from fourteenth position for PSV in the first of three Superleague Formula-races held at Estoril in Portugal. Carlo makes his debut in the championship this weekend and had a challenging first day that included qualifying.

“It is quite a peculiar car”, Carlo says. “It is particularly difficult to get it to go around slower corners. We managed to improve the set-up of our car one step at a time, but this of course is only the very first day for us and we only have one engineer for two cars, so we have to improvise a little. This weekend it will primarily be a matter of learning as much as we can and get the maximum out of the three races. It will not be easy, but of course we will try our very best, especially since there are two more events after this one, at Monza and Jarama, and we want to make the most of the track time here in order to ensure that we can make progress.”

During qualifying the Superleague Formula-field is divided into two groups. In his group Carlo set the seventh fastest time today, earning himself a spot on the seventh row of the starting grid for the first of three races that will be held at Estoril tomorrow. “The difference in lap times between the two groups was quite big because of the track being much quicker in the other session. Still I will start in front of people like Bourdais and Bernoldi tomorrow. However, we must improve our set-up significantly, because the fastest cars seem to handle significantly better.”

The Saleen S7R of the Austrian Full Speed Racing-team with which Dutch racing driver Carlo van Dam raced in the Spa 24 Hours this weekend, retired on Saturday night after 128 laps. “It seemed the engine just did not pick up fuel anymore, which was a bit strange as it happened at the start of what was our last lap before our next scheduled pit stop”, Carlo explains. “There was no fuel alarm light coming on either, the engine just cut out at once. A pity of course, but I look back satisfied and with pleasure at racing in this event nevertheless.”

A short-circuit in the wire loom kept the Full Speed Racing-team in the pits throughout most of free practice and the qualifying sessions leading up to the race, but the problem was solved before the start. “The team asked me to do the start”, Carlo says. “In the race things went nicely, actually. I spent a lot of time in the car and especially when it rained it just went well. We may not have had the best car out there, but compared to the fastest Maserati’s and Corvettes we performed quite reasonably I think. The team was pleased with my speed and in the paddock I got some good reactions to my driving, so I am happy to have been given the opportunity to race here and that I took it. We lost a lot of track time in practice and qualifying due to the short-circuit problem we had, but despite that, in the race the car was fine. One time the team put me on slicks a bit too early maybe, so I had a brief off as the track was still wet, but apart from that things went well. This was one of those races in which you move up automatically as long as you just keep on running, because a lot was happening on the track and many cars crashed out or ran into trouble. Unfortunately we too retired, but all in all for me this was a great race and valuable experience.”

Carlo van DamDutch racing driver Carlo van Dam and his team mates will tomorrow (Saturday) start from 32nd position (9th in the GT1-class) in the 61st Spa 24 Hours, after the Full Speed Racing-team for which he drives, completed only very few laps in the qualifying sessions held yesterday (Thursday) at the Belgian circuit. Since the Saleen S7R of the Austrian team first went out to qualify when it had just started to rain, competitive lap times could no longer be set on the wet track. During the handful of laps that Carlo did, however, he managed to make a strong first impression.

“I got to grips with the car pretty quickly”, Carlo says. “During free practice I only did three laps, but when I got out of the car I was in fifth place, so that wasn’t a bad start. The team, though, was plagued by electrical problems all day yesterday and the alternator and the battery failed several times. Consequently, the car couldn’t do more than two or three consecutive laps and so we spent a lot of time in the pits. At the start of the first qualifying session it was still dry and that was when the fastest times were recorded obviously. As our car went out by the time it started to rain, we will of course have to start from the back. I did the second qualifying session, when it was still raining. It went well, in the first sector of my first lap I was one second quicker than the fastest time in GT1 set in that session until that moment. At the end of that same lap, however, the battery went flat again. That was quite an interesting experience; all the lights going out just when I was heading for Blanchimont while it was dark and wet…”

Starting from the back will not be too big an obstacle given the duration of the race, but Carlo recognizes the importance of the Full Speed Racing-team solving the problems that occurred yesterday if it does not want to retire early in the race. “Yesterday we could do two, maybe three laps before things broke down again, so there must be something short-circuiting somewhere in the car. One battery even exploded. Fortunately, today there will be no running here, so the team has some time to locate and solve the problem. Lets hope we can sort it out, because in the wet we were quite quick, especially because Pirelli’s wet weather tyre seems to be working well.”

Saleen S7RDutch racing driver Carlo van Dam will this coming weekend compete in the 61st edition of the Spa 24 Hours, the most important 24 hour-race for GT-sports cars as well as round four of the 2009 FIA GT Championship. Carlo will drive a Saleen S7R entered by the Austrian Full Speed Racing-team that runs in the GT1-class, the category for the fastest cars in the race.

Carlo concluded the deal with the Full Speed Racing’s team owner last week in Vienna and he is looking forward to making his debut in the Spa 24 Hours: “Since I decided to leave the Kolles & Heinz Union Formula 3-team last month, I have had several offers that I considered carefully. I very much welcomed the question to race the Saleen at Spa. It is a serious car and a wonderful, important event that fits in nicely with my GT-experience with Toyota and Subaru last year in Japan and my participation for Volkswagen in the 24 hour-race at the Nürburgring earlier this year.

The 600bhp S7R of the American sports car manufacturer Saleen has proven itself in the GT1-class in both Europe and the US over the past few years. Full Speed Racing has entered one Saleen for Spa, where Carlo will form a team with Italian Ferdinando Monfardini and the Dutch brothers Rob and Arjan van der Zwaan. “They all have experience in GT1 and with the Saleen, so that is good. For me it will be a case of getting to know the team and the car quickly. The competition in the GT1-class will be fierce, as there are many renowned teams and drivers racing in it and, apart from the Saleens, cars from Maserati and Corvette. It is a 24 hour-race so that means we just have to give everything without expecting anything. I am happy to be in it and I look forward to experiencing the race and the car, and contribute to the team’s performance as much as possible.”

First practice for the 61st Spa 24 Hours is held this coming Thursday, the race starts on Saturday July 26 at 16.00 hours.

Carlo van DamDutch racing driver Carlo van Dam today clinched second place at Fuji in the second round of the 2008 Japanese Formula 3 Championship. Yesterday, Carlo also finished second in his Toyota Team TOM’s Dallara and he is now placed second in the championship standings.

“I had a good start. I was able to gain a position and ended up in second place. After that there was not much drama, for I was quicker than the ones behind me, but I could not really attack my team mate Iguchi. I lost quite a lot of time in the track’s third section this weekend. It is a series of tight corners where you have to go through very slowly, because as soon as you push a little there, you lose speed instantly. In the end I went wide once and that created a gap. I am quite happy with my debut here, however. I guess my car and I sort of belonged in second place here this weekend and we have scored valuable points.

“Particularly at Fuji we are still looking for some extra speed and a better setup, as was clear already during testing. In any case we did well in terms of championship points here and now it is a matter of making more progress. This Tuesday we are testing again, at Motegi, and I look forward to the next races, which will be held at Autopolis during the final weekend of April.”