Eric van de Poele
A former Formula One driver. He participated in 29 Grands Prix, debuting on March 10, 1991. He is currently competing in the GP Masters Series.
Eric van de Poele began his career in French Formula 3 in 1984, before switching to Belgian Touring Car Championship Group N and Formula Ford, winning the Belgian and Benelux Formula Ford titles.
Eric made a brief appearances in German and British Formula 3 before joining the Zakspeed BMW Junior team, winning the German Championship, with the added highlight of a victory in the Spa 24 Hours with Theys and Martin.
After another season of touring cars with Schnitzer BMW, Eric returned to single-seaters driving for GA Motorsports in 1989 in F3000. He raced for them for two years, finishing fourth in 1989 and runner up in 1990 after wins at Pau, Birmingham and Nogaro.
In 1991 Eric joined the newly formed Lamborghini Formula One Team With backing from his long-time sponsors Lease Plan. The car was never competitive, however it ran very well at Imola, van de Poele holding fifth place until a fuel pump failed on the last lap.
1992 saw Eric join the Brabham team for another year of non-qualifications. By then he should have know better but still jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with Fondmetal, aother team facing imminent extinction.
Aside from a largely-unused capacity as test driver for Tyrrell in 1993 that was the end of his F1 career.
He landed a deal to drive a Nissan Primera in the 1994 British touring car championship. Frustrated with the team and the car, Eric quit mid-season on friendly terms.
1995 started with a win in the Sebring 12 Hours, sharing a Ferrari 333SP with Fermin Velez. He also drove in the Baldi/Alboreto fourth-place car. He then drove a Nissan Primera in the Spanish touring car championship. With the car well sorted, he enjoyed two competitive seasons in the series, but another win at Sebring in 1996 sharing a Riley & Scott with Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace, he deceided to return to sports prototypes full time and in 1997 he moved to race in America in the IMSA US World Sportscar Championship.
In 1998, he joined Wayne Taylor in the Doyle Risi Racing Ferrari 333SP to contest the Professional Racing Series in America, winning rounds at Las Vegas and Road Atlanta. Teaming up with Schiattarella at Team Rafanelli for 1999, Eric won the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at Atlanta, but his season was then dealt a serious blow when a jammed throttle caused a heavy crash when he was testing the works Nissan in preparation for the Le Mans 24-hour race, which left him sidelined for three months with cracked vertebrae.
In 2000, Van de Poele joined the Cadillac Northstar factory team's assault on the ALMS and for Le Mans. After a dissapointing Le Mans, he was 3rd in the SR class and 14th overall at the Daytona 24hr and 6th in class at the Sebring 12hr.
In 2001 he drove for Dick Barbour Racing in a Reynard 01Q Judd in the LMP675 class of the European Le Mans Series. Sharing with Didier de Radigues, they came 3rd overall and 1st in class at Jarama. Following the withdrawal of James Weaver from the Bentley team, Eric was granted a release from Barbour to drive at Le Mans in the Bentley 3596T. Driving with Wallace and Leitzinger, they finished 3rd, despite a 4 minute stop-go for overtaking under yellow flags.
Currently living in San Diego in America, van de Poele is currently competing in the GP Masters Series.