Eric van de Poele

Born:
30th September 1961 (Age 58)
Verviers, Wallonia
Nationality:
Belgian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Eric van de Poele’s meagre record during two seasons in Formula 1 does no justice to a long and successful career. One of racing’s good guys, his five victories in the Spa 24 Hours guarantees fame at home at least.

Success in single-seaters saloons

As soon as he was old enough to drive, van de Poele was hurling his father’s Renault 12 around Zolder with abandon. By 1984, he was racing in French Formula 3 but it was an unsuccessful experience. Without single-seater progress, he turned to touring cars and won the 1987 DTM title despite not winning a race with Zakspeed’s BMW M3. He also won the Spa 24 Hours for the first time that year and finished fifth in the 1988 European Touring Car Championship when sharing the winning Schnitzer BMW M3 with eventual champion Roberto Ravaglia on two occasions.

Van de Poele had not given up on a single-seater career however and he used Lease Plan sponsorship to fund a move to Formula 3000 in 1989. It was an impressive baptism with his GA Motorsport Lola T89/50-Cosworth scoring podium finishes at Vallelunga and Le Mans to clinch fifth in the standings. He challenged for the 1990 title and won three times with GA’s Reynard 90D-Cosworth before finishing as runner-up behind Erik Comas.

 Formula 1 with Lamborghini, Brabham and Fondmetal

That success prompted graduation to Formula 1 in 1991 with Carlo Patrucco’s new Modena Team. However, he only qualified the Mauro Forghieri-designed Lamborghini 291 once. He ran fifth during the closing stages after a brilliant drive in drying conditions at Imola before running out of fuel on the last lap.

He moved to Brabham for 1992 for another frustrating campaign. His Judd V10-powered BT60B was 13th in South Africa but he failed to qualify thereafter as the team struggled financially. He switched to Fondmetal for the Hungarian GP and started three races for the Italian team – finishing 10th at Spa-Francorchamps in his penultimate GP before the team closed its doors.

Subsequent racing career

Tyrrell’s test driver in 1993, he never raced in the category again. Instead, van de Poele returned to touring cars and endurance racing. He twice won the Sebring 12 Hours and was part of the successful team at the new Petit Le Mans in 1998 – all rounds of the IMSA GT series.

He won the second round of the following year’s inaugural American Le Mans Series driving a Rafanelli Riley & Scott MkIII-Judd. However, a championship challenge was lost to back injuries sustained and three months out of racing. The throttle on his Nissan R391 stuck open at Tertre Rouge during qualifying for the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours and he crashed at 125mph.

Part of the Cadillac line-up a year later, his Bentley EXP Speed Eight finished third in the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours and fourth in 2002. Van de Poele continued to race in the Spa 24 Hours – winning the event for a fifth time in 2008.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2009 FIA GT Championship 33rd 3
2008 FIA GT Championship
Vitaphone Racing Team
1 0 1 1 15th 20
2007 FIA GT Championship 20th 14
2006 FIA GT Championship
Bartels Motorsport
1 0 1 1 19th 20
2006 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
2 0 2 0
0% win rate
0
2005 FIA GT Championship
Bartels Motorsport
1 1 1 1 14th 20
2002 FIA GT Championship 33rd 2.5
1999 American Le Mans Series
Team Rafanelli
1 0 1 1 0
1998 PSCR Championship
Doyle-Risi Racing
2 1 2 2 0
1996 IMSA World Sports Car Series
Doyle Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1995 IMSA World Sports Car Series
Scandia Motorsport
1 0 1 1 10
1992 F1 World Championship
Motor Racing Developments
Fondmetal
4 (9) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1992 World Sportscar Championship
Peugeot Talbot Sport
1 0 0 0 0
1991 F1 World Championship
Modena Team
1 (15) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1990 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Spice Engineering
2 0 0 0 26th 3
1990 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
BMW Team Schnitzer
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
32nd 1
1990 FIA International F3000 Championship
GA Motorsport
11 0 3 3
28% win rate
2nd 30
1989 FIA International F3000 Championship
Player's 3000 Team
10 0 2 0
0% win rate
5th 19
1989 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Valier Motorsport
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
40th 4
1988 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Linder
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
35th 13
1987 World Touring Car Championship
CiBiEmme
BMW Alpina
3 0 1 1
34% win rate
0
1987 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Zakspeed Racing
10 2 3 0
0% win rate
1st 127 (136)