PEOPLE: JACKY EECKELART
Name: Jacky Eeckelart
Anterp-born Jacky Eeckelaert has the misfortune to have the most difficult name to spell in Grand Prix racing. In fact it is so bad that he is often referred to only as "the bloke with the funny name at Peugeot".
Eeckelaert should not be overlooked, however, as he is one of the most accomplished engineers in the paddock and is rare in that he understands both chassis and engine technology. It is this dual talent which saw him appointed Project Coordinator of Peugeot Sport in 1996.
Eeckelaert studied mechanical engineering at the University of Louvain in Belgium before working for four years in engine development for the Ford Motor Company before becoming head of the technical center of Champion Europe.
At the same time he was competing for privateer teams in single-seater racing in Formula Ford and even in Formula 3, which developed his interest and expertise in chassis design. In 1985 he decided to dedicate himself a little more to racing and quit Champion to become team manager of the Keerbergs Transport Racing Formula 3 team. In his spare time he worked as an engineering consultant in the research center of Louvain University and designed components for racing cars.
The KTR team - run by trucking magnate Prosper Mollekens - had made its mark running Marc Duez in German F3 but, in 1986, moved to the French series running such drivers as Didier Artzet, Christophe Bouchut and Frederic Delavallade. With Eeckelaert's help Artzet won Monaco in 1987 and finished third at Macau in 1989.
In 1991 he moved to the DAMS F3000 team and from there to the Danielson team in 1992, running Peugeot 905 sportscars. At the start of 1994 he was offered a job by Peugeot Sport to run the company's French Touring Car Championship operation. It was a great success with Laurent Aiello winning the championship. At the end of 1995 Peugeot Sport boss Jean-Pierre Jabouille asked Eeckelaert to oversee the Peugeot F1 testing program. This led to another role as coordinator between Jordan and Peugeot - dealing both with the engine designers at Peugeot and Gary Anderson's chassis design department at Jordan.
When Peugeot began a new alliance with Prost GP in 1998 Eeckelaert joined Prost as chief engineer, doing all the races and the tests. In 1999 it was decided that he would do only testing. At the end of that year he was offered the job of chief test engineer with Sauber and moved to the Swiss team. In 2001 he returned to the circuits to be race engineer for Kimi Raikkonen and in 2002 he became head of track engineering for Sauber.