First with Intrepid, then for some years with the Praga Kart and Formula K brands, Cash Van Belle has forged an impressive track record as a team manager. An excellent technician, the 50-year-old Belgian polyglot is unparalleled in developing an atmosphere conducive to the emergence and growth of the drivers in his team.
How does one become a team manager of some of the most important brands in international karting?
Above all, you must be passionate about motor sports, be very motivated and love personal relationships. Unlike some of my colleagues, I was not a kart Driver. I started in motocross. Then, my passion for engines led me to work in karting as a mechanic. First with the Belgian team Gewelt Racing in the late 90s, then in England with Millenium Motorsport. I then assisted the Briton Scott Jenkins, European Vice Champion and Italian Junior Champion in 2006, when he also won the Monaco Kart Cup. As he was racing on an Intrepid chassis, I worked in close collaboration with the factory, for which I became team manager.
How did the transition take place?
Over time, I have taken on more and more responsibilities at the technical level. In 2008, I had seven drivers to manage. I said to my boss: “Continuing to work on a single kart, while supervising the whole team, becomes difficult. One day, I will end up making a mistake.” And during the next race, my driver lost a wheel … Thanks to this anecdote, my status has definitely changed!
What celebrity drivers have you worked with?
Alessandro Manetti, Bas Lammers, Roberto Toninelli, Alessandro Piccini, Yannick De Brabander, Alexander Albon, Anthoine Hubert, Jay Howard, Jeremy Iglesias, Antonio Piccione and many others. I have many memories with each of them and I see them all with pleasure. For example, Howard was then champion in Indy Lights before racing in Indy Car.
How do you manage two experienced Drivers in the same team?
If they are paid or drive for free for a brand, they must understand that they have to serve the team. But then explaining to Manetti or Piccini that one must give way to the other, is difficult. They have trouble accepting it. In the end, there must be no secrets between them. The Hamilton-Rosberg or Verstappen-Ricciardo duels in F1 show that these problems exist at all levels of motor sport.
How do you find the words to tell a team member that he is not fast enough?
When a Driver pays a certain amount to race, he wants results, but they do not arrive automatically. In any case, we must constantly motivate him, tell him that he can improve. It’s up to us to help him progress. The ideal is to have another Driver at the front, who can pull up the rest of the team. The data analysis helps to show him how he can go faster. At IPK, Jérémy Iglesias is one of of the staff at the OK and OK-Junior Competitions. He gives valuable advice to our young people. He is an excellent example. When he races, he never gives up, no matter what equipment he has. In 2017, he has almost never left the top five in the major races in KZ.
Are you satisfied with the work done with the IPK factory and in the team?
Already, I have very good relations with Petr Ptacek, the manager. Great mutual trust has been established, which is important. He pays close attention to our work. The work done on the equipment continues to bear fruit and the results of the team are constantly better each year. For my part, I am very careful to create a good atmosphere and to transmit a positive atmosphere to Drivers. I want them to feel good about our team, so that they can outdo themselves to get a good result. I am also satisfied with the partnerships with our engine manufacturers, such as TM Racing and GFR, with whom we have been working for a long time. In my eyes, loyalty is important.
What is your best memory?
There are several of them, but Jérémy Iglesias’ recent victory in Salbris at the opening of the European KZ Championship made me very happy. We often lost out in 2017! And the same day, Pierre Loubère climbed on the second step of the podium in KZ2. In addition, Jérémy defended the colors of Formula K and Pierre those of Praga.
And the least good?
At Genk in 2011, when Yannick De Brabander went off two corners from the finish when he had won the race at the KZ1 World Cup. I threw my watch on the ground, the first time that it happened to me! As at the European Championship, we had to settle for 2nd place.
Info CIK-FIA / © Photo KSP