Local driver Frijns fastest at Zandvoort. Munich. The latest pre-season stop for testing for the Formula BMW Europe competitors was the Dutch seaside town of Zandvoort where the circuit is set in the sand dunes. On Tuesday and Wednesday ...
Local driver Frijns fastest at Zandvoort.
Munich. The latest pre-season stop for testing for the Formula BMW Europe competitors was the Dutch seaside town of Zandvoort where the circuit is set in the sand dunes. On Tuesday and Wednesday the drivers were able to pick up some valuable data on the only non-Grand Prix circuit they visit and, not surprisingly, it was home grown driver, Robin Frijns (Josef Kaufmann Racing), who set the fastest time, although he was a mere 0.075secs quicker than Jack Harvey (GB/Fortec Motorsports).
In weather conditions that were sunny, with a cold breeze and dry, except for a sharp shower during lunch break on Wednesday, the quickest time of the test was 1:42.127. This time, which was set on Tuesday afternoon, is nearly half a second faster than Frijns' pole lap for last year's race of 1:42.507.
Quickest Rookie driver overall was Carlos Sainz (ES/Eurointernational) with a time of 1:42.417. However, on Tuesday that honour went to local driver Hannes van Asseldonk (Josef Kaufmann Racing) who was fourth quickest. He comes from Boekel, which is an hour and a half drive from the track, and after the test his comment was: "I knew the track before as I tested there in a Formula Ford a couple of years ago, and I found I was able to remember it well. At the beginning I was pushing too much, but I think I improved as the test went on and now feel well prepared for the start of the season."
Unfortunately there were two casualties of the volcanic ash cloud that has seen no fly zones over most of Europe. These were Fahmi Ilyas (MY/DAMS) and George Katsinis (GR/Fortec Motorsports) who were not able to drive to the Netherlands as they were in Malaysia and Greece respectively.
The next test for all the Formula BMW Europe competitors will be after the first races of the season in Spain on 25th/26th May in Budapest. After that there is just one other test at Hockenheim test on 1st/2n June.
The French based DAMS team has a long and illustrious past in motorsport going back to 1988 when Jean-Paul Driot and former Formula 1 driver, Rene Arnoux, set it up to run in Formula 3000. It has been involved in Formula BMW Europe since its inception and this year is running Fahmi Ilyas (MY) and Javier Tarancon (ES).
While Driot still owns the team, the General Director is David Loic, who has taken over the running of it for 2010 from Eric Boullier, who has now gone to be Team Principal for the Renault Formula 1 Team. DAMS Team Manager for Formula BMW Europe is Guillaume Dufond, who has been with the team for several years.
As they were packing up at the end of the Zandvoort test it was an optimistic Guillaume who said: "I expect us to be fighting for podium places at the first races in Barcelona." Commenting on their preparations for the season he added: "Winter testing has had its ups and downs for us. We have been trying different car configurations and also spent lots of time working with the drivers. I am really happy we have been to most of the tracks we shall be racing on, and this is one of the really positive benefits of racing in Formula BMW Europe."
In year one of the series the team celebrated three podium finishes and Kevin Breysse (FR) was its highest driver in the points in eighth. However, last year its successes came thick and fast in the second half of the season thanks to Jim Pla (FR) who scored four successive wins on his way to fifth in the points. The team's final total was six podiums, one pole position and two fastest laps and it was fourth in the Teams' title race. After the team, which is now based in Ruaudin, was formed it was soon winning and took the Formula 3000 title in 1990 with Erik Comas, 1993 with Olivier Panis and 1994 with Jean-Christophe Boullion. It is difficult to find a formula that the team has not been involved in from Formula 1 to Sports Cars and World Series by Renault to GP2.
In 1995 it was a Formula 1 project with Reynard Racing Cars, but sadly lack of funds never saw this come to fruition. In sports cars a partnership with Panoz Motorsport in 1997 and 1998 in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA GT Championship lead to several podiums. In 1999 it was with Lola in sports cars that the team was successful claiming four wins in the FIA Sports Racing World Cup a podium in the ALMS and the first private team on the grid in Le Mans. Sports Cars continued in 2000 and 2001 with Cadillac as a semi-official team, while Sebastien Bourdais was fourth for the team in its last season in Formula 3000. It was the Formula Renault V6 Cup that brought more victories, with Jose-Maria Lopez winning the title in 2003. DAMS contested that series up to and after it changed to World Series by Renault in 2005, which was the same year it entered the newly formed GP2 series with Lopez who won for it in Barcelona.
In A1GP World Cup of Motorsport DAMS ran teams under the French and Swiss flags with each of them winning a title. Then when GP2 Asia was introduced it was fourth with its driver in year one and in year two not only won the team title, but also came first and second with Kamui Kobayashi and Jerôme D'Ambrosio. This success was followed very quickly with the title of the new European Formula Le Mans Championship. The drivers who have passed through its doors over the years is not only a who's who of French motorsport with such names as Jean Denis Delatraz, Loic Duval, Jean Marc Gounon, Franck Montagny, Alexandre Premat and Nicolas Prost, but also includes the likes of Le Mans winner, Alan McNish (GB).