Second place and DNF for Rinus van Kalmthout during Max Verstappen fan event
The Max Verstappen fan event at Zandvoort, known in Holland as the Jumbo Familiedagen, didn’t present Rinus van Kalmthout with the results that the 16-year-old driver was entitled to. In BOSS Grand Prix qualifying, he had set pole in his Dallara GP2, but a tyre issue prevented him from winning the first race of the weekend. Instead, the KNAF Talent First driver finished in second place. In the second race on Sunday, an electronics glitch cut the power of his 700bhp Judd engine, leaving Van Kalmthout to return to the pits to retire. Rinus’ father Marijn van Kalmthout was equally unlucky, as he was forced to retire from the first race with a flat tyre while in the second race he was hit by another driver taking evasive action, leading to a crash and immediate retirement.
The Jumbo Familiedagen driven by Max Verstappen at Zandvoort were treated to a record attendance of over 110,000 enthousiastic visitors. The weather was kind to them on both Saturday and Sunday, which only added to a great atmosphere. Apart from several demo runs by Max Verstappen in his Red Bull F1 car, the two BOSS GP races were headlining the event with a field of 13 fast and thundering Big Open Single Seaters. The BOSS GP cars with their screaming engines and unlimited horsepower provided lots of spectacle for the thousands of race fans.
In the Saturday morning qualifying session, KNAF Talent First driver Rinus van Kalmthout showed that he had the savage Dallara GP2 well under control, hitting a top speed of over 300 kph. He set an impressive quickest lap time of 1:23.183, which proved to be nearly as quick as Max Verstappen’s time in his Saturday demo. “I could have done even better”, said the 16-year-old Hoofddorp resident. “I had to pass two slower cars on my fastest lap, and that cost me a bit of time.”
On his home track, Marijn van Kalmthout set second fastest time, 1.7 seconds adrift of his son. “I’m very happy with my qualifying time, not having raced for three years. Apart from that, I’m immensely proud of Rinus, with the relatively little single-seater experience that he has. It’s confidence-inspiring to see how well he does in a 700 hp GP2 car.”
The first BOSS GP race on Saturday started with a unique first row of the grid, the KTF driver’s GP2 car on pole, with Van Kalmthout Sr’s beautiful blue Benetton B197 alongside. Having taken a rolling start, the field thundered towards Tarzan corner, with Marijn van Kalmthout threatening to grab first place on the outside line, but Rinus was the last of the late-breakers, blocking his wheels momentarily but staying in the lead.
For two laps, father and son led the race, before Marijn felt his tyres causing him problems, which forced him to return to the pits. Losing too much time changing tyres, the Benetton had no more chance of a good finish, now three laps adrift of the leader.
Rinus, meanwhile, had pulled out a gap on Johann Ledermair’s GP2 car but as the race unfolded the KNAF Talent First driver felt an increasing lack of balance in his car, due to his blocking the left front tyre on the opening lap. Unable to charge, he had to allow the Austrian to claim the lead a few laps from the end. Driving fully focused, Rinus was still able to bring the car home in second place to celebrate a podium finish on his Dutch debut. “Such a shame I had to be careful in the last few laps to save the tyre”, said Van Kalmthout Jr. “I had been too keen on my first lap.”
At noon on Sunday, an amazing atmosphere embraced the circuit at the start of the second race. The grandstands and the dunes were filled to the brim with spectators that saw the BOSS GP cars line up on the grid. Marijn was forced to start from last on the grid due to his mishap the day before, Rinus started from second place on the grid. As the field completed its warm-up lap to take the rolling start, Rinus gave it full throttle but the GP2 car didn’t respond. An electronics glitch in the car’s Judd engine made it drop down the order, forcing the cars behind to take evasive action. In the ensuing chaos, one of the drivers drove straight into Marijn van Kalmthout’s path, hitting the Benetton’s left rear wheel, a collision that spun poor Van Kalmthout into the pit wall. Sadly, his race was over on the spot.
Rinus van Kalmthout’s electronics issues didn’t go away and he was forced to return to the pits. He gave it one more try but it was impossible to race the car. After another slow lap, he parked the GP2 car to retire from the race.
Disillusioned, both Van Kalmthouts joined their team and their many guests. “A huge disappointment”, said Marijn. “It should have been a celebration in a wonderful event such as the Jumbo Familiedagen, but instead it ended on a sad note. That’s motor racing, of course, but it still hurts that both of us were unable to finish the race.”
Rinus didn’t see it coming either. “Working towards this event, everything went smoothly. We tested for several days and all without any problem. Having worked so hard, it’s disappointing to see it unravel for our team on the day that matters.”
However, Rinus van Kalmthout has no time to reflect, as he is leaving for the United States again to do more USF2000 testing. “I’m counting on having been served my portion of bad luck, so that I can now fully focus on my American career. I’m currently placed second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 standings, and I’m fighting for the title. That will be my main aim this season, although I truly enjoyed driving the GP2 car in front of such an amazing crowd. There will be more opportunities like that, now my focus is back to America.”