Double podium finish at Istanbul Park!18-06-06
There was no limit to Carlo van Dam’s performances during the third and the fourth round of the 2006 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship in Turkey this weekend. Under tropical conditions, the 20-year old Dutchman scored his first podium finishes in this series of the year at the 5378 meter long Istanbul Park track. By finishing in second and third position, the Dutchman in French duty added a welcome 22 points to his championship tally. Van Dam now possesses the fourth place in the driver standings, at just eight points behind leader Atte Mustonen.
At the modern Formula One circuit near the centre of Istanbul, the first two Free Practise sessions already started on Thursday. At the spectacular and technical track, Van Dam needed some time to get to know the track at first. Unexpected rainfall did not help him in this situation obviously. In the third and fourth Free Practise on Friday however, Van Dam had refound his speed and finished the latter session in third place.
A newly introduced qualifying format, obliged all 34 drivers to set at least two fast laptimes in only one session, as both their fastest and second-fastest laps were used to determine the grid for both Saturday’s as Sunday’s race. Only a few drivers, including Van Dam, seemed to understand the importance of the hot air- and tracktemperatures though. At a new set of tyres, the S-T-A-R-T- driver immediately set a blistering quick laptime in his first outing. During the session, Van Dam fought Danish driver Kasper Anderson for pole, but had to settle for second position for Saturday’s race as Spaniard Dani Clos eventually set the overall fastest time. Van Dam’s second-fastest laptime was good enough to secure P3 for Sunday’s second race.
RACE 01 + 02
In the first race on Saturday afternoon Van Dam enjoyed a good start, but was soon hit from behind by Anderson, making him loose precious time to frontrunner Clos. Though his car was not heavily damaged, the timeloss of approximately 2-3 seconds gave enough margin for Clos to win the 14-lap race ahead of Van Dam and Atte Mustonen.
A somewhat altered set-up of his clutch did not bring the advantage van Dam hoped for at the start of the second race on Sunday morning. While departing from the grid, Van Dam temporarily lost one position to Anderson, but soon recovered to take his third position back. An incident between Oliver Campos and Martin Plowman further up the field, employed the safety-car for a short while. Van Dam, who’d already got the best out of his tyres, saw no chance to charge Mustonen for second position in the final five laps. Nevertheless, Van Dam positively reflected on his performance in Turkey.
CARLO VAN DAM: “I think I can go home completely satisfied! In qualifying and both races, we showed a good pace here, which I have to thank the team for that. The new qualifying format is more fair to everyone, and it seems to suit me nice. If we’d only started at a more competitve level in the Free Practises I’m sure we could have been fighting for wins as well. Ofcourse, finishing second and third is not too bad, but I really would like to win once now, haha! I’m looking forward to the next event at Misano as we enjoyed a good test there in the winter.”