January is usually an exciting month for a racing driver. New deals on the table, new sponsors to talk to, new ideas and plans and so on. 2017 is officially done and dusted, and we can look forward to another year of driving around in circles in 2018!
I’ve just announced that I will be returning to the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship this year with team/driver champions Redline Racing. They have won it 10 out of 15 times, which is a hugely impressive stat, and it was this, plus having been their rivals for the last 3 years, that persuaded me to move over.
On paper, this will be my 4th different team in 4 years. However, I can explain everything! The first team in year one, well, we didn’t quite see eye to eye. They thought I was slow, I thought they were slow, and so we cut ourselves out of the contract early and went with another team for the final two rounds that year. Those final two rounds saw me win 2 races and take two podiums. So, with that new team, we decided to enter a full season in 2016. That year saw us win races, and we were in with a chance to win the championship, but we encountered troubles with the car, which lost our competitiveness and never quite got to the bottom of them. I had no choice but to move teams the following year. Despite finishing 2nd in 2016 overall, I wanted more…I wanted more wins and the championship. JTR on paper was actually a slight risk for 2017. Yes, Nick Tandy is a top act in sports car racing himself, but that does not mean his own race team will be any good. It turned out to be good but only after a few ‘teething issues’ to sort out at the start. They ultimately cost us the title in 2017, as we tied on points with the eventual champion, and we lost a handful of points at the start with the new Porsche team. Of course not a bad effort, mightily impressive infact – but 2018 is a new chapter.
All three previous teams in the three previous years were all different in their own way. What remained constant was over the last three years, Redline Racing took the championship title on each occasion. I watched them be pretty faultless over those three seasons – and I also experienced what it’s like being with a top team and a not so top team over the last three years. JTR are a top team, and they will be hungry and quick in 2018, I’ve not doubt. But there was something about Redline Racing that inspired me, or got my curiosity. It’s like the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden – the thought of what could be with me and them in partnership, was all too tempting.
I’ve always wondered, certainly in the first two seasons of Carrera Cup racing, ‘what if and how would I do, if I was in Redline’s car’…well I will have the answer this year. I will be able to write about how we’re doing and what the car feels like. Ultimately, JTR and myself were the only driver/team to take wins off Redline in 2017. I am therefore under no illusion that I will have to work hard like I’ve always done and that there is no magic wand to success. It’s a brand-new car in 2018, and if there was ever a time for a team to lose any advantage, then it would be in 2018. But that’s a challenge that I am looking forward to. I’m looking forward to working with a team full of winners and excited to see what we can do.
The season officially kicks off in April at Brands Hatch and will have a following 7 rounds and 16 races in total. We head to Monza this year as part of the ELMS Series as a one-off race, instead of the Le Mans support race we did in 2017. Monza is an awesome track - 185mph flat out in the new Gen 2 Cup Car, braking at 100m down to 30mph for the first chicane…I can’t wait. I don’t actually know if those figures were accurately sound, but they sounded good, so I’m sticking with it.
2018 has a lot in store and I’m excited to get racing already. Testing will begin in March, as January and February are far too cold to test a Cup Car. It’s a fair weather conditioned car, it only likes circuits over 10 degrees, or else it won’t work properly!
At this time, I will be flat out looking for partnership and sponsorship renewals, as well as seeking new opportunities and sponsors. We’ve got some exciting talks going on, so hopefully that all comes off nicely.
The best thing about a new season is that you get to design a Porsche 911 Cup Car in whatever colours you want. You start again with a white canvas. Last year my car got lots of compliments about being a good looking one – so let’s hope 2018 is the same but that goes one place higher on the podium!