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The thrilling spec racer that justified a continent-hopping weekend

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There are specific methods of going about profitable a championship in motorsport. One is to patiently financial institution factors and revenue from the misfortune of others, mounting a problem based mostly on consistency. Then there’s the strategy taken by Giedo van der Garde on his technique to the 2008 Formulation Renault 3.5 title, breaking the again of the opposition with morale-crushing victories early doorways.

The Dutchman’s three wins from the opening 4 races with the Renault World Sequence’ new-for-2008 Dallara T08 established him in a transparent lead that he by no means relinquished for the rest of the marketing campaign. After taking further wins at Hungary and Le Mans, in addition to runner-up finishes at Monaco, Silverstone and the Nurburgring, van der Garde wrapped up the title with a spherical to spare at Estoril.

A machine that the LMP2 gun-for-hire right this moment describes as “simply unbelievable” is an automated selection for his favorite automobile above Formulation 1 tools he examined for Tremendous Aguri, Spyker/Pressure India, Renault and Sauber, in addition to the 2013 Caterham CT03 he twice managed to haul into Q2. The “most pleasant automobile” of the 38-year-old’s profession up to now additionally usurps the “spectacular” ORECA-Gibson 07 LMP2, when run in high-downforce spec previous to its V8 engine being detuned for 2021 upon the introduction of Hypercars to the World Endurance Championship.

Such was his appreciation for the T08 that van der Garde even reduce quick his first weekend of GP2 Asia with iSport in Shanghai to take a red-eye flight again to Barcelona for the ultimate spherical of the FR3.5 season, after he’d skipped the opener.

Having raced the season prior in World Sequence with the extremely advanced T05 that made its debut in 2005 and the yr after within the second-generation GP2/08 chassis that was additionally constructed by Dallara, van der Garde has an excellent level of reference from which to guage when he says, “the one factor the place GP2 was a little bit bit faster was engine energy”. The GP2/08 used the identical four-litre V8 as its 2005 predecessor with 612 horsepower, whereas the T08’s 3.5-litre V6 weighed in with 500 when crammed up with E85 biofuel.

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“However drivability, the World Sequence automobile was higher,” the 38-year-old continues, “as a result of additionally they had the Michelin tyres which had been excellent [compared to the Bridgestone-shod GP2]. It had extra downforce in 2008 too. It was a really pleasant automobile to drive.”

Three wins from the opening 4 rounds adopted up by second place in Monaco set van der Garde on his technique to the title

Photograph by: DPPI

Clearly it additionally helps that van der Garde was in a profitable setting at P1 Motorsport, as Roly Vincini’s Norfolk equipe pursued a set-up philosophy that “actually suited my driving model”.

“They actually trusted my skill and we discovered a super-good set-up on that yr,” he says. “We had been having an excellent automobile straight on the start of the season.”

Van der Garde hadn’t managed a podium throughout a 2007 rookie season spent with the Carlin-run Victory Engineering squad, when “some races we had been okay, some races we weren’t so good”. However buoyed with confidence after promising showings with P1 in testing, he shortly set that to rights within the Monza season-opener as “every part went to the proper method”.

Quickest in qualifying on his twenty third birthday, he defied a cracked driveshaft to cost from seventh to victory within the reversed grid opener, then transformed pole within the second race as pursuing rivals tripped over one another.

“The way in which we began off that yr was spectacular and it got here all collectively. It took a couple of years, however I knew as soon as I used to be in the appropriate automobile and I had the appropriate workforce round me that it’ll come” Giedo van der Garde

“The entire weekend was simply excellent,” he displays. “To start out a season like this was simply great and I believe that’s why additionally I received the championship. All over the place I raced, each observe I used to be at all times one of many quickest. In order that’s why I believe we could possibly be constantly there.”

Positive sufficient, van der Garde was first or second in qualifying in any respect however three conferences, and twice that was all the way down to extenuating components. Vincini skipped Estoril, the place van der Garde struggled to a gripless thirteenth on the grid however nonetheless sealed the title with a brace of eighth locations, whereas he began the ultimate spherical in Barcelona from the pits after lacking qualifying on GP2 Asia obligation. An unexplained automobile failure pitched him off the highway on the opening lap.

“A minimum of we obtained to have a beer afterwards,” he quipped to Autosport’s correspondent Peter Mills.
That was one in all few in the end inconsequential hiccups which included a uncommon driver error whereas working fourth in Hungary, a gradual tyre change that value a attainable victory on the Nurburgring and a clutch sensor failure that put him out earlier than the beginning of the reversed grid race at Le Mans. Arguably the very best profile got here in spherical two at Spa, when a conflict whereas disputing third with Julien Jousse at Blanchimont put each out.

The Dutch driver clinched the title with a round to spare

The Dutch driver clinched the title with a spherical to spare

Photograph by: Andre Lavadinho

“It was a pity as a result of I used to be so fast that I might have received additionally that as properly,” van der Garde says of a race which finally went to Bertrand Baguette, who had been working behind him on the time of the incident. “It might have been loopy to have two weekends in a row to have two wins, to have 4 wins.

“However the best way we began off that yr was spectacular and it got here all collectively. It took a couple of years, however I knew as soon as I used to be in the appropriate automobile and I had the appropriate workforce round me that it’ll come.”

Van der Garde made amends within the second Spa race after a nasty begin dropped him to 3rd behind Mikhail Aleshin. He quickly recovered previous the Russian earlier than pulling an equivalent transfer on poleman Marco Bonanomi at Les Combes. Taking advantage of a jump-start by Alexandre Marsoin in Hungary to take reversed grid spoils, he beat Esteban Guerrieri off the road at Le Mans and would probably have received at Silverstone too had it not been for getting caught in visitors after his early cease which allowed Robert Wickens to overcut him.

However as with Alvaro Parente the yr earlier than, van der Garde’s World Sequence title wasn’t the hoped-for fast springboard to F1 and he needed to observe the Portuguese into GP2. He paid his dues within the second string for 4 years earlier than his F1 shot lastly arrived in 2013 and fared properly alongside sophomore Charles Pic, who had crushed him to victory at a soggy Monaco in 2008.

However van der Garde’s true F1 potential was by no means realised as a deliberate transfer to Sauber for 2015 went awry. Regardless of his legitimate race contract, he was jettisoned when the cash-strapped Swiss squad signed Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

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After a yr on the sidelines, he underlined his price upon switching to sportscars and claimed the 2016 European Le Mans Sequence title with Jota Sport earlier than turning into the common co-driver of Dutch grocery store entrepreneur Frits van Eerd. Their five-year partnership was capped by van Eerd’s profitable 2021 WEC LMP2 pro-am title bid.

Now a daily in IMSA, van der Garde made a profitable return to the WEC in a cameo outing with United Autosports at Portimao final month.

Despite his impressive race car CV, van der Garde's appreciation of the Dallara T08 sees it as his top pick

Regardless of his spectacular race automobile CV, van der Garde’s appreciation of the Dallara T08 sees it as his prime choose

Photograph by: Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPI

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