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Eric van de Poele


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#1 HistoryFan

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 11:40

I know you can find a lot of information about Eric van de Poele with google and so on.

But I want to discuss about a driver who had only bad cars or cars, that never entered a race.
What can you say about him?
How good was he?
Were there never the chances to go to a better team?

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#2 HistoryFan

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 13:03

For example: How good was he compared to Damon Hill in 1992?
I know that both had a good relationship┬┤.

#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 20:21

Van der Poele was a better driver than he was given credit for, but I'm not surprised his career in Formula 1 lasted a short while. He had two problems - whilst he had a budget, it wasn't sufficient enough to secure a drive anywhere in 1993, which you must remember was a year that saw a lot of teams fall by the wayside in either late 1992, or even in the winter before 1993 got underway.
The other problem was that although the San Marino GP of 1991 proved he was capable, constant non-qualification in a string of po, or cars, plus a less media-savvy profile in general motorsport press than Damon, didn't really give him a chance of gainful employment.

In truth, he did well to get out of Brabham into Fondmetal, but with Fondmetal also heading towards oblivion, it was a career-making risk that didn't work out.. in fact he was due to be replaced, because of money, by Giuseppe Bugatti, had Fondmetal continued until season's end.

I've met Eric twice in more recent years - I've found him a very warm, relaxed, comfortable and ebullient character who relished racing in GP Masters as it gave him more of a chance than F1 did to impress. I've also caught up again at Goodwood.

If he was like he was in 1991/92 as he was in 2006, then maybe there's a third reason - not really clinical, cynical and scheming enough to survive and prosper in the cut-throat world of F1.



#4 PeterElleray

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 23:13

Eric was a late sub for James Weaver at Team Bentley in 2001 and part of the 3rd placed crew that year. He impressed all of us sufficiently that he was retained for 2002, and duely finished 4th with the same team mates. Eric did a lot of test driving for us over the winter 2001-2, and suffered one of the largest airborne accidents that i have ever seen during testing at Paul Ricard, with the car landing outside the circuit boundary(!) having narrowly missed a TV mast in mid flight. The damage was enormous but he was able to walk away from it, apparently unaffected mentally or physically - something which worried me at the time! Eric was never less than a cheaful, positive committed team player, as well as being fast!

It was sad that the nature of the 2003 programme didnt have room for him.

Top Bloke..

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#5 mfd

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 16:28

It was sad that the nature of the 2003 programme didnt have room for him.

That was I believe a desperately sad moment for him - he told me he thought he would never go back to Le Mans (with the chance to win) Apart from Guy Smith, the 01-02 guys were a bit short changed as (I believe) circumstances conspired against an outright win in those years.


#6 jcbc3

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 18:02

My impression is that he may have been a comparable talent to Thierry Boutsen, but didn't have the breaks.

#7 DogEarred

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:40

Even in his early FF1600 days he was a very pleasant guy but obviously had the financial wherewithal to progress. That's just motor racing. But when you reach a high level, whether by luck, talent, personal wealth or any other means, you can still identify those with a bit of talent.

#8 Lee Towers

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:28

He had some success in Touring cars remeber, he was 1987 German Touring Car Champion for BMW.

Not sure what happened when he came to the BTCC in '94 with Janspeed and Nissan though. The Nissan was far from competitive by '94, but he only competed in half the season. Does anyone know the story there? There's nothing about it on the 94 BTCC Season Review.

Edited by Lee Towers, 09 August 2012 - 12:28.


#9 mfd

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 16:39

The Nissan was far from competitive by '94. Does anyone know the story there? There's nothing about it on the 94 BTCC Season Review.

His words to me at the time was he didn't enjoy the destruction derby style of the BTCC & in an uncompetitive car - He has won the Spa 24 twice in BMW touring cars & three more times recently in Maserati MC12 GT cars. Also the Sebring 12 Hours twice & Petit Le Mans in prototypes.




#10 Lee Towers

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:22

His words to me at the time was he didn't enjoy the destruction derby style of the BTCC & in an uncompetitive car - He has won the Spa 24 twice in BMW touring cars & three more times recently in Maserati MC12 GT cars. Also the Sebring 12 Hours twice & Petit Le Mans in prototypes.



Seems he has a similar attitude towards Touring Car Racing as Allan McNish then, someone else very successful in Sportscars of course.

#11 mfd

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 13:43

Seems he has a similar attitude towards Touring Car Racing as Allan McNish then, someone else very successful in Sportscars of course.

Except Allan wouldn't have said the car was uncompetitive ;)

#12 ensign14

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 13:51

The other problem was that although the San Marino GP of 1991 proved he was capable, constant non-qualification in a string of poor cars, plus a less media-savvy profile in general motorsport press than Damon, didn't really give him a chance of gainful employment.

He had a very decent F3k career and did well outside F1, but I wonder whether his performance at Imola was due to driving an Italian car in Italy being checked by Italian scrutes. For some bizarre reason the Modena had never gone as well before and never would go as well again...

#13 ensign14

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 16:45

[found this while looking for something else]

Larini finished seventh in the first GP of the season at Phoenix, starting 17th, ahead of both Leyton-Houses, both Footworks and both Ligiers, which had the same engine as the Modena.

7th out of 8. Only beat an AGS. It took another six races for the Modena's third Grand Prix - and EVDP never started a second for them.

#14 ensign14

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 18:01

Just putting forward a few more facts. :)

#15 mfd

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 20:42

Just putting forward a few more facts. :)

This isn't a fact though...
"I wonder whether his performance at Imola was due to driving an Italian car in Italy being checked by Italian scrutes"

Edited by mfd, 16 January 2013 - 20:43.


#16 ensign14

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 21:32

True. Inadmissible opinion. But it is a fact that the Modena's performance at Imola was anomalous. (Also disproved the adage that if it looks good it'll go well, I thought it was a beautiful thing.)

#17 ensign14

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 23:00

OK, Regazzoni. Just tell me when else Eric van de Poele got through pre-qualifying in the Modena. Remembering that they had a total of 16 goes.

And then tell me when else the Lambo ran in the points in the entire season.

Because if you can find one instance of either, I'll concede the Sammarinese performance is not anomalous.

#18 RDV

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 14:08

Mmm...late into this one, but EVdP is a quick lad. Had him at Lemans and in Touring cars, and always gave us good performances, notably at Spa in SuperTourers, he is mega there. Re comparison with Boutsen, also ran Boutsen and would say EVdP was quicker and better overall than him. San Marino was a good example of grabbing a car by the scuff of the neck and doing a good time, as I recall something like half a second faster than Larini, who I rate quite highly, having had him drive for me also in F1 and ETCs. All this despite the Lambo using monoshocks front and rear, a bizzare Forguieri idea, and the only example thereof I have ever seen. VdP was always a mega team player and always cheerful, the only blemish on his scutcheon being the horrible bush hat he wears...good chap altogether

Edit-Forgot to add he pipped my car in San Marino qualifying, leaving me disgruntled, and I still maintain if the second session wasn't wet, the race grid would have been quite different.

Edited by RDV, 17 January 2013 - 14:15.


#19 Nemo1965

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 15:48

Mmm...late into this one, but EVdP is a quick lad. Had him at Lemans and in Touring cars, and always gave us good performances, notably at Spa in SuperTourers, he is mega there. Re comparison with Boutsen, also ran Boutsen and would say EVdP was quicker and better overall than him. San Marino was a good example of grabbing a car by the scuff of the neck and doing a good time, as I recall something like half a second faster than Larini, who I rate quite highly, having had him drive for me also in F1 and ETCs. All this despite the Lambo using monoshocks front and rear, a bizzare Forguieri idea, and the only example thereof I have ever seen. VdP was always a mega team player and always cheerful, the only blemish on his scutcheon being the horrible bush hat he wears...good chap altogether

Edit-Forgot to add he pipped my car in San Marino qualifying, leaving me disgruntled, and I still maintain if the second session wasn't wet, the race grid would have been quite different.


RDV, you worked or drove in F1? Serious question, no sarcasm at all intended!

Edited by Nemo1965, 17 January 2013 - 15:49.


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#20 RDV

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 17:44

...er, yes, engineer, 22 years, 287 GPs...but not since 2001, doing more interesting work now.

#21 funformula

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 18:20

...er, yes, engineer, 22 years, 287 GPs...but not since 2001, doing more interesting work now.


These incredible one off performances seemed to be typical for the 1991 season.
Maybe RDV can tell us from the horses mouth why Olivier Grouillard was so impressive in qualifying for the GP Mexico (P10) and never came near that performance for the rest of the year.
Was there something special with the track that suits the car or the driver?

#22 Nemo1965

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 20:18

...er, yes, engineer, 22 years, 287 GPs...but not since 2001, doing more interesting work now.


Great to have you onboard. A friend of mine worked for Mercedes GP for two years, quite fascinating to get expert views from the inside.



#23 RDV

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:23

funformula- Olivier Grouillard was so impressive in qualifying for the GP Mexico (P10) and never came near that performance for the rest of the year

Can't claim any credit for that, was one of those lucky set-up perfect from the first session, good pre-qualify (Track was in dire dusty condition, not having been used for several years before, and low grip privileged a well balanced car, note almost ten second difference in green track times and rubbered-up qualifying times) and the perfect lap in qualifying, which did suit car and driver, high altitude, which evened out the engine performance, and the sequence of esses after main straight, which if got just right would give you a good time, quite pleasing to line up just behind Prost.

The subsequent fiasco at the aborted start, when Blundells' Brabham stalled on grid, and when Grouillard raised arm and cut engine as everyone else was doing got him sent to back of grid still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, as the order to go to back of grid was given by one B.E.Ecclestone and led to an interesting shouting match with said personage. Another good example of conflict of interest as he was also the owner of Brabham. Car DNF after split oil radiator and blown engine, so immaterial in the end. Up down performance by Grouillard was the result of team quality, must have been one of the worst teams I have ever worked for, consisting of the dregs of Osella and not really qualified to be in F1, plus ragged engines, very unreliable and down on power. Interesting year...

#24 funformula

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 17:17

Can't claim any credit for that, was one of those lucky set-up perfect from the first session, good pre-qualify (Track was in dire dusty condition, not having been used for several years before, and low grip privileged a well balanced car, note almost ten second difference in green track times and rubbered-up qualifying times) and the perfect lap in qualifying, which did suit car and driver, high altitude, which evened out the engine performance, and the sequence of esses after main straight, which if got just right would give you a good time, quite pleasing to line up just behind Prost.

The subsequent fiasco at the aborted start, when Blundells' Brabham stalled on grid, and when Grouillard raised arm and cut engine as everyone else was doing got him sent to back of grid still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, as the order to go to back of grid was given by one B.E.Ecclestone and led to an interesting shouting match with said personage. Another good example of conflict of interest as he was also the owner of Brabham. Car DNF after split oil radiator and blown engine, so immaterial in the end. Up down performance by Grouillard was the result of team quality, must have been one of the worst teams I have ever worked for, consisting of the dregs of Osella and not really qualified to be in F1, plus ragged engines, very unreliable and down on power. Interesting year...


Thanks a lot for these inside informations.
A bit off topic in this EvdP threat but may I ask you, why Grouillard had to leave the Fondmetal team before end of season. Was he a pay driver and run out of money? I always puzzled about that.
Or maybe the italian connection was too strong so that he was forced to swap seats with AGS driver Tarquini.

#25 mfd

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 17:49

Why Grouillard had to leave the Fondmetal team before end of season

He was a bit temperamental or is that an understatement :well:

Edited by mfd, 19 January 2013 - 17:50.


#26 funformula

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 17:55

He was a bit temperamental or is that an understatement :well:


But also veeeeery relaxed on the other hand.
I remember him having a power nap on top of the pit wall during a F1 test in Hockenheim.

#27 dnhrudi

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 16:17

I was impressed by his step up to F3000 after a number of years in touring cars. He was an immediate factor and took 3 wins the following year

#28 mfd

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 17:05

I was impressed by his step up to F3000 after a number of years in touring cars. He was an immediate factor and took 3 wins the following year

You're must be writing about EricvdP not Grouillard I think :confused:

#29 MattFoster

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 00:15

7th out of 8. Only beat an AGS. It took another six races for the Modena's third Grand Prix - and EVDP never started a second for them.


That doesn't quite reflect what happened in the race. He was running 5th ahead of Hakkinen when the Lambo cried enough. He ended up classified 7th

I also remember being impressed by his perfomance in the BMW M3 at the WTCC race at Bathurst in 1987.


#30 Tim Murray

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:31

That doesn't quite reflect what happened in the race. He was running 5th ahead of Hakkinen when the Lambo cried enough. He ended up classified 7th

I think you're getting your races confused here, Matt. As Ensign14 said, Larini finished 7th out of 8 at Phoenix. Van de Poele wwas 'running 5th ahead of Hakkinen when the Lambo cried enough' at Imola. He was eventually classified 9th.

#31 MattFoster

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 22:42

I think you're getting your races confused here, Matt. As Ensign14 said, Larini finished 7th out of 8 at Phoenix. Van de Poele wwas 'running 5th ahead of Hakkinen when the Lambo cried enough' at Imola. He was eventually classified 9th.


senior moment, my bad :drunk:

#32 Geza Sury

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 13:39

That doesn't quite reflect what happened in the race. He was running 5th ahead of Hakkinen when the Lambo cried enough. He ended up classified 7th

It was a fuel pump failure actually. First everyone thought he had run out of fuel, but it was discovered he still had 26 litres of fuel in the tank.



#33 William Hunt

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 16:23

Does anyone know why Eric Van De Poele's nickname was Tintin? Maybe because he traveled so much and drove in so much different series?



#34 mfd

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 16:34

Does anyone know why Eric Van De Poele's nickname was Tintin? Maybe because he traveled so much and drove in so much different series?

Same nationality & someone thought he looked similar. He didn't mind at all