European Le Mans SeriesFeaturesIMSAKay van Berlo ColumnPorsche Carrera Cup North America

Kay van Berlo Column: An introduction… Ready to go for IMSA, ELMS and Porsche Carrera Cup NA!

6 Mins read
Kay van Berlo - Porsche Carrera Cup North America
Credit : LAT Images / Jake Galstad

Hi everyone, I’m Kay van Berlo, and this year I will be racing once again in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America series with the Kelly Moss Road and Race team, the IMSA Endurance Cup with Riley Motorsports and also in the European Le Mans Series with United Autosport; As this is my first column, I thought I would let you know a little about how I got here.

I’m 21-years-old and was born in the Netherlands; I started racing at the age of seven. I did about ten years of karting in the first couple of years in my home country, later on I moved to Europe and World Championships and took part in series in Germany as well, from Rotax Max to shifter karts.

Kay van Berlo - United Autosports LMP3 - Asian Le Mans Series
Credit: United Autosports

In 2018 I switched to race cars, I jumped into LMP3 in the European Le Mans Series, won the 4 hours of Monza and Road to Le Mans that year. Later that year I signed a deal with United Auto Sports to do LMP3 in Asian Le Mans Series, where we won the 4 hours of Fuji. 

It was a very good first season, really cool to do the endurance races and to jump straight into an LMP3 car was pretty cool.

At the beginning of 2019 I was doing some Asian Le Mans races still, later on we were deciding what to do next and we decided to try Porsche Carrera Cup. So, I did a couple of races, not a full championship in Carrera Cup Benelux, just to see if it was something that would be a good place and a good class to develop myself, and straight away fell in love with the Carrera Cup series, the way they set up the weekends, the cars, and the racing.

So, we decided to continue there, and made a deal for Carrera Cup Deutschland with Huber Racing. I did five races in the series, it was supposed to be eight, but that is when COVID hit. 

Kay van Berlo - Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland
Credit : Porsche AG / hoch Zwei

Despite this, it was a very cool season, I really enjoyed racing in Carrera Cup, and I always loved it.

Compared to endurance racing it’s a little more aggressive, the good thing about Carrera Cup for me, is that I just need to rely on myself; You need to rely on the team before you jump in the car, but by the time the race starts, it’s just you that is in control of what’s going to happen next. As I needed to learn a lot in the beginning, it’s a really good place to learn. 

The year after I moved to the United States to start studying economics at the University of Miami. Although, I ended up back at a racetrack again! 

I went to the 12 hours of Sebring to meet some people, but then run into Jeff Stone, who was then, the owner of Kelly Moss Road and Race, and he offered me a test. I took part in that and it went really well, and that’s how we figured out a deal and ended up doing Carrera Cup North America in 2021.

Kay van Berlo
Credit : LAT Images / Jake Galstad

That was a very good season, we came away with the most wins at the end of the year, but we missed out on the title, we had three non-finishes, which is way too much and that cost us the title at the end, but aside from that it was a really good season. 

I really enjoyed working with the people in the team, I like racing in America, especially the tracks, they are a lot more old school, no issue with track limits, and there are a lot of really die-hard fans, which is cool to see. That’s basically my racing career in a nutshell.

So, as I mentioned before, I’m studying alongside racing, I’m based in Miami, that’s also where I go to school. So that’s what I’m mainly focused on, racing and school. It’s sometimes pretty hard to combine both, because both require quite a little bit of time, but at the end of the day, so far, I’ve managed it. I have about a year and a half left in college.

Kay van Berlo - Riley Motorsports - Rolex 24 at Daytona
Credit : LAT Images / Jake Galstad

This year has already brought success, at the Rolex 24 At Daytona I won the LMP3 class with Riley Motorsports in the #74 car with Felipe Fraga, Gar Robinson, and Michael Cooper. 

Winning at the at Daytona was a very special day; As a kid you’re working towards the big endurance races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 24 hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, with the ultimate goal of winning those.

When I got the chance to compete for the first time in Daytona, I didn’t have very high expectations, and I didn’t really know what to expect at first. Obviously, I knew that Riley Motorsport won the LMP3 class the year before, so I knew the team was capable of winning the race.

During the race we just kept it in our mind to stay out of trouble, we knew the car was fast, we knew the older drivers were quick in the car as well, but 24 hours is a really long race. We managed to stay out of trouble, kept everything clean, and had strong pace, especially throughout the night and early in the morning, and that gave us a big gap to second place early on in the race.

In the last couple of hours we had managed to pull one lap ahead of the next car in our class, so a comfortable lead by the end of the race. It was a very special day and it’s a really nice one to cross off my bucket list of races to win, I still want to win the overall race. I never expected to be competing in that race this year, and then coming away with the win is very special.

Kay van Berlo - Rolex 24 at Daytona
Credit: LAT Images

The next race of the IMSA Endurance Cup is coming up next weekend, it’s going to be a busy week at Sebring with the Carrera Cup practice on Wednesday, qualifying and race one on the Thursday, the second race on Friday and then the 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday.

I’m really looking forward to continuing working with everyone in the team for the 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America season. I will also be playing my part in the Racing for Children’s charity again, which is an amazing cause. I’ve seen all the people within Kelly Moss and Racing for Children’s put in a tremendous amount of effort in the charity. It’s always cool whenever I can put a smile on kids’ faces, and to try to involve them in what I’m doing.

With the racing, I just want to continue what we did last year, and you know be better. Last year we came away with seven wins, so this year we definitely go for more, we always try to improve, and go after the title again, that’s what I’m really looking forward to.

With regards to the Carrera Cup NA calendar, it looks really nice, I’m especially looking forward to Laguna Seca; I’ve never been there, and I’ve never raced in California, so that’s cool. 

Kay van Berlo - Porsche Carrera Cup North America
Credit : LAT Images / Jake Galstad

The two best tracks on the calendar for me are Long Beach and Toronto, both street tracks. I’ve never raced with a Porsche at a street track, so that’s going to be awesome, especially in Long Beach, it looks really cool, so I’m really looking forward to those two races. At the end of the day the I can’t wait for all of them, as I said, I love racing on the American tracks, they are so old school, it’s just flat out, and 40 minutes just going for it, so yeah that’s going to be awesome.

Looking ahead to this weekend, last year at Sebring we were really quick, but we did our homework within the team really well. I remember the new Porsche 911 (992) Cup Car got delivered just before the race, but the team was right on top of it, so we had our car setup all sorted by the time the race started, and then we did really well that weekend. We won both races, Seb Priaulx and I finished 1-2 with a big gap to third place.

I don’t think it’s going to be exactly the same this year because everyone has had the opportunity to develop and to learn throughout the season, regardless, Sebring is always fun, Sebring can bite you in the arse out of nowhere! Whenever you go back to Sebring you start from zero again, trying to find a good setup, and work from there.

I’m really looking forward to it, it’s always a special place, especially during the 12 hours of Sebring, a lot of fans, and great atmosphere. Looking forward to it and let’s score some good points, I think that’s the most important thing at the end of the day.

Follow Kay van Berlo on Instagram and Facebook – Read the next column on 30 March, exclusively at The Checkered Flag.

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About author
21-year-old Dutch racing driver taking part in the IMSA Endurance Cup with Riley Motorsports, European Le Mans Series with United Autosports, and Porsche Carrera Cup North America with Kelly Moss Road and Race.
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