With a top international program, karter Thomas ten Brinke has had an intense and successful first half of the season in the prestigious OK Junior class. The fourteen-year old talent from Zeddam can look back on a number of podium places in various championships, of which the third position overall in the FIA Karting European championship and the second place in the WSK Euro Series are the most impressive so far. This promises something more for the second half of the season.
The WSK Champions Cup, the WSK Super Masters Series, the WSK Euro Series and the European Championship; Thomas has driven them all. From the start of the season he was in top form, resulting in a number of podium places in a row. It is a very satisfied young driver who tells his story, “It's going great this season! Taking many podium places is always good, beginning with third at the WSK Champions Cup at my first race of the season.”
This first race of the year was an impressive display of the young Dutch driver’s talent. “I started outside the top ten. It was half dry and half wet and I was running on slicks, but in these tricky conditions I still made it on the podium. Following this, I was ranked second in the WSK Euro Series which was really great and I was very happy with my results. In the WSK Super Master Series, I had the chance to win during the final round in Sarno. Unfortunately I was driven off the track, therefore, could only finish fourth in the championship. That was disappointing, of course, but I’m most satisfied with the first half of the season.”
The highlight until now is his third place in the overall classification of the Junior European Championship. During the first round at Angerville in France, Thomas finished second and then came in third at Genk in Belgium during the second round of the series. However, he could only manage to be seventh in the third round at the Kristianstad circuit in Sweden, “Sadly, we had a problem with the tires at the Asum Ring.”
Last weekend, the final round of the European Championship was held on the Le Mans International Karting circuit. “I was second with a good chance of the title, but had bad luck in the qualifying. I was in front of a group and lost traction where someone had gone off track leaving a lot of sand on the race line. That was on my fastest lap and left me 69th, where I normally always reach the top ten.” Nevertheless, Thomas achieved a very credible third in the championship. “In the end, I am still quite satisfied with this.”
These excellent results have ensured that Thomas will be receiving personal coaching by former Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde now. “I think it's an honour. Super cool! I am really curious about what I can learn from him. Of course, he is a very good, experienced driver. You can learn a lot from such a person.”
This is Thomas’s second year in the OK Junior class. He drives for Ricky Flynn Motorsport on an Alonso Kart with Vortex engines and feels right at home there. “The speed is getting better, even though it was good right from the start, it’s still getting better. I aimed for a top five place and the fact that I have been on the podium so often already makes it even nicer. I also wanted to drive as consistently as possible and we have succeeded. The best thing was that we were there every race and almost always ended in the top three.”
When asked about his development as a driver this season, Thomas mentions that he can better adapt to the circumstances during a race. “And if something is wrong, I feel that I can get the best out of myself and the kart. I’m much more settled now too. Last year I was easily agitated if things didn't go well and always feeling kind of restless. Now it seems to be working nine times out of ten.”
For that progression, Thomas owes much to Koen De Meester, who has been his regular coach for years. “Koen works with me every week. We make GoPro images of my driving and look at the racing lines. He is also always on track to see what is wrong and what can be improved. That's really nice. He has a lot of experience in karting and valuable to me. We’ve had a good connection now for four and a half years.”
Koen himself is also very pleased with the partnership. “This season Thomas is in the top five all year round. It is amazing that he has not had a bumper penalty at all this season. You really have to pay attention to that during the racing and that’s great for him,” he says. “He has learned a lot, especially with regard to his racing skills. Even if he is not fast, he drives in the front.”
That means something in the OK Junior class, Koen also knows, “It is the most competitive class. Drivers from all over the world come to Europe to race in this class. This ensures a very high level. There are many factory teams, while Ricky Flynn Motorsport is a private team. It is, however, very highly regarded. They are often even more competitive than the drivers in the factory teams.”
Thomas is now preparing for the World Cup that will be held at the Mika Salo circuit in Finland. To gain some experience on the track, he will first participate in a round of the Finnish championship. Thomas explains: “The result does not matter, as long as I have the right speed for the World Cup and I am well prepared. I’ve never been there, although the team was there two years ago so we know where to look in terms of set up. I am going for the win!”
Thomas ten Brinke is supported in his racing activities by Ricky Flynn Motorsport, One Engines, Eurol, Bernhard ten Brinke, Koen de Meester, Giedo van der Garde, Ethan Patterson and Scott Scaney.
Also take a look at Thomas’s website – www.thomastenbrinke.com