Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge
Gillet-Ecurie Nationale Belge, previously named Equipe de Course Belge and Ecurie de Course Belge is a Belgian racing team founded in 1972 by ex-F1 driver André Pilette to help his son Teddy to get to Formula 1. This goal being acheived in 1974, he set up the definitive Equipe de Course Belge as a successor to Jacques Swaters' Ecurie Nationale Belge, dissolved in the mid-1960's. The team operated in lower divisions for about 40 years before making the step to the Formula 1 Rejects World Race Series in 2011. Notable drivers to have driven for the team include Marc Duez, Eric van de Poele, Bertrand Gachot, Didier Theys, Eric Bachelart, Bas Leinders, Bertrand Baguette, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Thomas De Bock and Aurelien Moll.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Foundation
- 1.2 Slow start
- 1.3 The Boutsen revelation
- 1.4 The next talents take a different route
- 1.5 The long drought and the renaissance
- 1.6 2003: Single-seaters again!
- 1.7 2004-06: Progress slows
- 1.8 2007: The team moves up in the world, d'Ambrosio becomes champion
- 1.9 2008: GP2 is too expensive
- 1.10 2009: The best by far
- 1.11 2010: The talent leaves
- 2 F1RWRS
- 3 Complete F1RWRS results
In 1972, André Pilette's son Teddy was inching closer and closer to Formula 1. André then decided to set up a team himself, with no other intent than to get Teddy to Formula 1. After several starts in non-championship races and a fifth place finish in the British Formula 5000 championship in 1972, Teddy won the British Formula 5000 championship the next year and got a one-off drive for Brabham.
This goal acheived and a whole team having been founded, Pilette decided that he would continue operations in lower series, he asked fellow ex-racer Jacques Swaters about setting up a national racing team, as Swaters had done in the mid-50's. The original Ecurie Nationale Belge had folded in the 1960's. Swaters decided to join Pilette, the team being renamed Equipe de Course Belge to avoid confusion with the earlier outfit, the team still racing in national yellow colours.
It was quickly decided that the team would only run in lower divisions with young Belgian drivers. The first drivers to benefit from the programme were Patrick Nève, Bernard de Dryver and Pierre Dieudonné, with only the latter not making it to Formula 1, leaving the team in 1980 to concentrate on sports and touring cars.
The Boutsen revelation
André Pilette also owned his own racing school at the time. In 1977, a young driver called Thierry Boutsen won the 'Volant V', and he promptly entered the Equipe de Course Belge in Formula Ford. His rise was meteoric, quickly reaching Formula 2 in 1981, while also competing in the 24h of Le Mans. Boutsen left the team in 1983 after graduating to Formula 1.
Meanwhile, the team had found new promising drivers in the form of Didier Theys, Bertrand Gachot and Eric van de Poele.
The next talents take a different route
While Theys left Europe to go to the United States in 1985, van de Poele stayed at the team and rose through the ranks, although he left the team during the late 80's to concentrate on touring cars only to return in 1989 to drive in F3000. Van de Poele made it to Formula 1 in 1991. Bertrand Gachot took a more linear route, reaching Formula 1 in 1989.
Philippe Adams also made a brief appearance for the team in the early 90's, but left for touring cars after his Formula 1 efforts in 1994.
The long drought and the renaissance
After that, the team had to reduce its operations greatly due to a lack of talented Belgian drivers. The team had to resort to running mediocre drivers in karting, Formula Ford and Formula Renault. In 2001 however, three young drivers, Bertrand Baguette (5th in the provincial championship), Jérôme d'Ambrosio (Belgian Junior Champion) and Aurelien Moll (Double Belgian Junior Champion and French Junior Champion), had shown tremendous talent.
In 2002, d'Ambrosio moved to Formula A, Moll to the World Championships and Baguette to the European Championships, though still racing locally. D'Ambrosio and Moll won their respective championships, with Baguette finishing second in the provincial championship. D'Ambrosio and Moll then made the logical step to single-seaters, with Baguette opting for another season in karting.
2003: Single-seaters again!
However, the two graduates decided to go their different ways, straining the team's budget. While Aurelien moved to Great Britain to compete in Formula Ford, Jérôme stayed in Belgium to compete in the Formula Renault 1.6 championship, while also running a partial Formula König schedule. Baguette, meanwhile, competed in the Belgian, French and European karting championships. Moll and d'Ambrosio both won in their respective championships, with Baguette winning the Belgian title, as well as a race in the European championships. All three drivers moved up in the world.
2004-06: Progress slows
All drivers then ended up in Formula Renault. Moll in Great Britain, d'Ambrosio in the French and European 2.0 divisions and Baguette in the 1.6 division.
For the first time since 2000, ECB did not win a championship all season. Moll finished 7th, d'Ambrosio 4th in France and 16th in Europe and Baguette 3rd. While Moll didn't move for 2005, d'Ambrosio preferred to compete in Italy, with Baguette again following in Jérôme's footsteps, moving to France. Aurelien won the championship, while Jérôme finished fourth again and Bertrand 7th.
This rate of success pushed the team to increase funding, entering Formula 3 for the first time since 1994.
While Moll moved to Formula 3, d'Ambrosio drove in the dying Euroseries 3000 and Baguette stayed in France, concentrating this time on the European 2.0 championship.
In F3, the team had a hard time adjusting to the high level of competition and Moll only finished 12th through consistency. Meanwhile, d'Ambrosio finished 5th in Euroseries 3000 and Baguette took fourth place in the European 2.0 championship.
2007: The team moves up in the world, d'Ambrosio becomes champion
After the failure that was British Formula 3, the team and Moll decided to turn to the World Series by Renault 2.0, with Baguette now driving in the same series in the 3.5 division. d'Ambrosio, meanwhile, competed in the inaugural season of Formula Masters.
While Moll won the most races, his incosistency only allowed to finish in fourth position, while Baguette scored two podiums, but only finished 17th due to the hgih level of competition.
D'Ambrosio, however, seemingly made the right choice, becoming the first Formula Masters champion.
2008: GP2 is too expensive
Of course, only Jérôme actually changed series for 2008. His success entitled him to a GP2 drive, but the team decided that GP2 would be too expensive to run. Jérôme had to be let go, and he was signed by DAMS. Laurens Vanthoor was instead signed up, moving to German Formula 3.
Aurelien finally got his act together in Formula Renault 2.0, finishing second to Giedo van der Garde due to mechanical failures. Bertrand, meanwhile, took his first 3.5 victory at Spa and finished the season in seventh place, while Vanthoor had a good début season in Germany, finishing fourth.
2009: The best by far
Aurelien's performance in 2008 enabled him to get a drive in the 3.5 division alongside Bertrand, while Laurens continued in Formula 3. This would be the team's best season yet.
The car was brilliantly set up for Baguette and Moll, and both fought for the championship. Aurelien scored five podiums including a win at Monaco, but mechanical failures in the middle of the season prevented him from finishing higher than fifth overall, while Bertrand had no such problems, winning five races and the championship.
Vanthoor alo had a brilliant season, winning 11 races out of 18 to take an easy title in German F3.
2010: The talent leaves
However, this meant that Bertrand found a drive in IndyCar, and he was released from the team, although keeping his RACB backing. Aurelien stayed faithful to the team and was its driver of choice for the new series set up as a cheaper alternative to Formula 1, the F1RWRS. However, there was no space on the grid. The team lent Aurelien to Team Rapax for a season of GP2 in 2010, which he won.
Vanthoor finished 6th in Euroseries F3.
2011: Mixed Beginning
For the 2011 season, the F1RWRS opened to new teams, and ECB was the first to be granted a spot, presenting the ECB JC01, named after Johnny Claes. However, the car was not very successful, the Gilelt engine proving to be slower than expected, and Aurelien failed to pre-qualify for five of the first seven races until the series' unpredictable nature meant that Aurelien not only qualified for the Kent and Tasmanian Grands Prix, but also won them due to an unusual strategy.
Aurelien finished 7th overall, with the team 9th in the constructors' championship. The high cost of operations meant that the team could not run in any junior series, but still provided backing to young drivers. This compromise allowed the team to sign up a second driver for the 2012 season, Thomas De Bock, a Belgian talent and former F1 driver who had not previously driven for the team.
In 2011, Jacques Swaters died and relinquished the rights to the Ecurie Nationale Belge name, team principal André Milhoux deciding to adopt the name.
2012: A disappointment, until Bathurst
The renamed ENB team still kept the chassis designation system and the car was called the JC02, with the Gilelt engine still in the back of the car.
However, the JC02 was even slower than its predecessor at the start of the season, and Aurelien scored no points. De Bock seemed to be heading the same way, until the Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst. The race had an incredibly high attrition rate among the frontrunners, and Thomas was able to beat Daniel Martins and Richie White to the win, the team's third. This performance was repeated at the Budweiser 500, Thomas scoring third position. Both drivers were kept for 2013.
2013: The buyout
At the end of the 2012 season, Milhoux retired from the team at the age of 84, into a well-deserved retirement. With no one interested in taking over the team, Milhoux decided to sell it to Tony Gillet, who renamed it Gillet Ecurie Nationale Belge, also renaming the chassis to ENB113, 1 referring to the series and 13 to the year. Due to the new rules, however, the engine was actually a Judd.
The season turned out to be the team's most successful yet. With the new regulations, unreliability became a problem for every, and Gillet would take advantage. A clear third to Dagnall and Foxdale on pace, the latter turned out to be to fragile to finish a race, leaving De Bock and Moll to pick up the pieces behind Mark Dagnall, who dominated the season.
These pieces turned out to be rather large. De Bock won at Dallas and the Norisring, confirming his talent at street circuits, but the car's urneliability meant he only finished one more race, and he ended up seventh in the championship. Moll was more consistent and reliable, winning the Monaco Grand Prix after De Bock's suspension failure with three laps to go. He also scored four more podiums and took a brilliant second place in the championship, also helping the team to the same place.
2014: Who knows?
With a budget cap enforced, Gillet was one of the two teams to have their budgets slashed, the other being Dagnall. For consistency's sake, the same two drivers were kept, with the ENB114's development being directed to all areas.
This seems to have worked, as Thomas has been in the top 5 for all pre-season test sessions. Things have not gone as well for Aurelien, who has failed to crack the top 10.
Complete F1RWRS results
|2011||ECB JC01||Gillet G32 V10||BAV||GER||SAX||LUX||BEL||GBR||ENG||KEN||NED||TAS||AUS||NSW||SUR||CHN||USA||35||9th|
|2012||ENB JC02||Gillet G32 V10||BAV||SAX||GER||LUX||BEL||NED||GBR||KEN||ENG||TAS||SUR||NSW||AUS||CHN||USA||500||31||9th|
|18||Thomas De Bock||Ret||15||DNPQ||Ret||Ret||DNPQ||13||DNPQ||DNPQ||Ret||15||18||1||14||16||3|
|2013||Gillet ENB113||Gillet GV10||TAS||AUS||MEX||USA||MON||FRA||GBR||GER||NED||BEL||POR||MED||MAC||CHN||JPN||BRA||57||2nd|
|20||Thomas De Bock||Ret||Ret||Ret||1||Ret||Ret||4||1||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret|
|2014||Gillet ENB114||Gillet GV10||TAS||AUS||BRA||MEX||USA||MON||FRA||GBR||GER||BEL||ITA||MED||NDS||MAC||CHN||JPN||51||4th|
|4||Thomas De Bock||6||1||Ret||5||Ret||Ret||Ret||1||8||Ret||Ret||6||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret|
|2015||Gillet ENB115||Gillet GV10||TAS||AUS||MED||MON||MEX||USA||CAN||GBR||GER||BEL||AUT||ITA||NDS||CHN||JPN||BRA||27||5th|
|8||Thomas De Bock||4||5||12||2||4||Ret||Ret||11||9||3||Ret||12||9||Ret||DNPQ||11|
|2016||Gillet ENB116||Gillet GV11||AUS||NSW||GBR||ITA||AUT||CAN||SUS||NUS||GER||NED||MON||BEL||MEX||ARG||CHN||JPN||0*||NC*|
|7||Thomas De Bock|
|Current F1RWRS Teams|
|Defunct F1RWRS Teams|
| Acuri - AMR - ARC - Bangelia - Calinetic - Dagnall/DGN - FAT Turbo - Flying Fish Motorsports - GRM - Hemogoblin - Horizon - JLD - KQ |
Lotus - MAN - Minardi - Mitie - O'Lauchlan - Pacchia - Phoenix - Rosenforth - SOTL - Tropico - Trueba - Virgin - West Cliff - ZimSport
- † Driver did not finish the Grand Prix, but was classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.