F3

Japan: Series Champion Carlo van Dam looks to next year

22-year old Dutchman Carlo van Dam has won the 2008 Japanese Formula 3 Championship title with Toyota Team TOM's in record breaking style, winning nine of the eighteen races and finishing in the top three in each and every round. He thus claimed...

22-year old Dutchman Carlo van Dam has won the 2008 Japanese Formula 3 Championship title with Toyota Team TOM's in record breaking style, winning nine of the eighteen races and finishing in the top three in each and every round. He thus claimed back to back Formula 3 titles - having won the German F3 championship last year - before setting fastest time in his first Formula Nippon test.

Carlo, who was highly successful in karting - European Formula A Champion and winner of many other major events including the Lonato Winter Cup and the Andrea Margutti Trophy - got into Formula 3 after nearly winning the 2006 Formula Renault Eurocup. Having clinched the German F3 crown in 2007, he impressed during his debut in the Formula 3 Euroseries (with Volkswagen) and at Macau at the end of that year. Not having the funds to take up the offers from GP2- and World Series by Renault teams, Carlo was happy to move to Japan and join Toyota Team TOM's, which had offered him a drive in the 2008 Japanese Formula 3 Championship shortly after his performance in the Macau Grand Prix.

This year, Carlo set a remarkable new record by being on the podium 18 times in all 18 races, of which he won half on his way to winning the title in dominant style. Toyota Team TOM's rewarded these achievements with a test in one of its Formula Nippon cars at Sugo, where in partly wet conditions Carlo instantly got close to the lap times set a day earlier by the team's regular drivers, who had raced on a dry track.

"I came to Japan as I had no budget to race in GP2 or even the World Series by Renault or the F3 Euroseries for that matter", Carlo explains his move to Toyota Team TOM's. "I suddenly found myself racing in an extremely professional environment, representing a huge car manufacturer and its partners and sponsors, which in many ways can hardly be compared to the ambiance you race in when paying to drive in a European junior category. People said it would be hard to go and live in Japan, but I have loved every minute of it, because you are so focused on racing all the time. The team and I kept improving the car right up to the last race of the year, even after winning the title, so we both got the best out of each other."

Carlo combines his future ambitions with an open mind: "Obviously, I aim for the top. As for next year, I want to race at the highest level possible with the best possible team, as I have come to appreciate the effects of working in a professional environment with highly talented and equally ambitious people. But first I am now focused on getting a maximum result in the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, of course."

-credit: carlovandam.nl

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Series F3
Drivers Carlo van Dam