Memories of a great day (27.04.2009) The first qualifying session of the new season took a truly successful course for Belgium's Laurens Vanthoor and his team, Van Amersfoort Racing. In the first part of his diary, the 17-year old talked about...
Memories of a great day
(27.04.2009) The first qualifying session of the new season took a truly successful course for Belgium's Laurens Vanthoor and his team, Van Amersfoort Racing. In the first part of his diary, the 17-year old talked about his expectations and fears regarding the first day of the season kick-off event. On day two, the schedule featured the second qualifying session and race one. In the second part of his diary, Laurens talks about the increasing tension and his feelings on and off track.
Good evening dear diary,
Finally I could go to bed. The day was really exhausting but it was worth it. My hair still smells of champagne and it just can't come any better. Today we had to get up even earlier and I had to eat something although I wasn't hungry. After all, the qualifying session was started soon afterwards. Then, we suddenly realised that it's Easter today. Some of the mechanics took a plastic chicken from the hotel to the circuit and glued it onto my front wing. They always come up with some nonsense.
Just as it had been the case yesterday, I once again was somewhat nervous. Fortunately, my mechanic Vincent amused me with some jokes. When the qualifying session was started we waited for a while but then I was given the signal to go out. Again it proved to be difficult to find a free lap. And as soon as I had the chance of setting a fast lap time there were yellow flags. So I drove slower and try to keep my cool. A few laps later, the track was cleared again and I could really go for it. The lap times were incredibly fast - we were a second faster than ever before at Oschersleben. It was strange but probably caused by the cool and fresh air. Unfortunately, I couldn't use the peak performance of my Yokohama tyres and therefore, my lap wasn't exactly what you could call great. At the end of the day I was fast enough to secure pole but I wasn't satisfied, nevertheless, as the gap on my rivals was far smaller than yesterday.
Following the lunch, the schedule featured the race-preparation briefing.
Prior to the race, my mechanic Joost and I played football in the paddock. We both are really bad but we had a lot of fun - and I had my distraction. The, the excitement began to increase and I have to admit that I was rather nervous, this time. The pressure was big as I wanted and had to do a good job - I wanted to win the first race. I talked about the situation with my Team Principal, Frits, and felt better afterwards. On the starting grid there were some really pretty grid girls - a nice possibility to relax.
Just minutes prior to the start, VW Motorsport Director Kris Nissen came to talk to me. I get on really well with him and he told me to do a good job and score points for the championship - without taking too many risks. With these words in my brain I started into the race. The warm-up lap went well and I was ready: the lights went on, and the engine was revving high, at the limiter. The start itself was poor but I succeeded in defending my lead, nevertheless. We just completed two corners, then the race was neutralised by yellow flags and the safety-car. But this wasn't a problem for me as I hadn't opened a big gap on the second-placed driver, anyway. At the end of lap one I realised that there had been a serious crash at the start. There even was an ambulance and that's something you never want to see. I had a bad accident in my karting days and that's the worst a driver can encounter. I asked my engineer Rik via the pit radio to keep me updated on the safety-car situation to offer me the chance of keeping my tyres and brakes on working temperature. 15 minutes later, the track was cleared and I defended my lead during the restart. I tried to open a gap on my team-mate who followed in second - but failed to do so. He followed right behind me and consequently, I was forced to defend my position. At the same time, we both were aware that Frits was going to kill us should we collide with one another. So I could defend my lead but I had to push hard to do so. Fortunately, I finally opened a gap and succeeded in increasing it lap by lap. Then I saw the chequered flag - and crossed the finish line as race winner! I screamed with joy and sang our 'team song'. When I had got out of the car I jumped right into the arms of my team. After all, it wasn't me alone who had won the race - it was the result of a joint effort. On the way to the podium I had a short chat with my team-mate Stef Dusseldorp about the race. On the podium I once again screamed with joy. The Belgian anthem was played, I looked up into the sky and enjoyed the great feeling. That was exactly what I had worked for in the off-season - all the exercising, always eating the proper food and always going to bed early. Now, all that has paid off!
It was a perfect day. For the rest of the day, I executed the normal programme: some laps on the track with my bicycle, briefing in the team truck and so on... Now I'm back in my room around and am about to take a quick shower. Then, the nice odour of champagne will be washed out of my hair - but the memories of a great day will remain.