After making his Ferrari Challenge debut in 2020, Willem Van der Vorm was able to establish himself as the star of the season and is poised to reach November’s Finali Mondiali with the Ferrari Challenge Europe title already secured in Coppa Shell Am. This achievement is due to great performances from the Scuderia Monte-Carlo driver and above all to the cool-headedness with which he approached the races, as he now recounts to us in his first interview as champion.
You had a great season and Race 2 at Spa was very complicated: you had to wait until the end to find out that you had won the title. How did you feel seeing your rivals racing on track without being able to compete against them?
“It was an intense race and it's a strange feeling winning without crossing the finish line. The start is always challenging at Spa but, unfortunately, I got hit and didn't know which way to move. Then I realised that there was no chance that my car could continue and that I would have to finish the championship directly at Mugello. But later in the race my main rival, Joakim Olander, also had issues and had to retire, so that mathematically sealed the championship for me. I am relaxed at the thought of finishing the season at Mugello with the title already in the bag.”
Your season was fantastic with so many wins. Which would you choose as the best one?
“The first race at Brno because I felt strong and I approached the weekend in a calm, relaxed way. I liked that feeling of being at the head of the pack and having a margin over the cars behind me. I also enjoyed Race 1 at Valencia because it was a challenging experience to win in the rain.”
What was the secret to winning this championship?
“In my opinion it all depends on factors beyond your control: it is necessary to make as few mistakes as possible and, obviously, to be well-prepared both mentally and physically. You also have to consider the element of bad luck, such as at Spielberg where I lost two races because I was involved in accidents. If you don't make mistakes but the others do, you can earn plenty of points.”
Mugello is a circuit where everyone wants to win. How are you going to prepare for this final round?
“For me it is a brand new race because I have yet to compete at Mugello. I’m going to do some testing and study the circuit and just try to stay calm and do my best. I don't feel under any pressure, even if there are very good drivers in the Ferrari Challenge who are always determined to win; so, I will work as hard as in all the previous races.”
There will also be a special date at the Finali Mondiali. What are your expectations for that?
“Obviously to win and to finish this second season in the best possible way, but also to have fun. Let’s see what happens.”
How do you feel behind the wheel of the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo?
“I love it and I immediately noticed the difference from the previous version. I love driving this car, it's a unique experience and every time I get behind the wheel, my heart starts beating faster. It's also an interesting competition because of the great preparation that the drivers put in.”
Last year you participated in your first Ferrari Challenge season and had some good races. This year we have seen a great leap in terms of quality: what are the reasons and the secret behind this improvement?
“My secret help has been my coach Michele Rugolo. He represents what I call “il sospiro del pilota” (literally: 'the racing driver's sigh'). He managed to calm me down and keep me focused when I needed to be because it's so easy to get stressed out between one race and the next.”