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Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

I recently took the decision to relinquish my driving role with United Autosports in the British GT series. There are a few things that I’ve been working on over the last 12 months and they’re starting to come together very quickly.

Timing is everything. It’s something that’s dictated my career path, whether it was stepping away from racing to join the media or building the business. It’ll all make sense when I’m in a position to announce my plans. When I turn the page, it’ll open up a much bigger book.

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

The racing was always grounded in fun more than anything else, I’ve had my professional career. It was a difficult decision because I still enjoy getting out there in a racing car, but I can look to it in the future and concentrate on what’s really important to me at the moment. A lot of the guys I was racing against were in the opposite situation having had success in business.

My relationship with United Autosports doesn’t change in any way apart from the fact that I won’t be behind the wheel. I’ve still got several commitments to my sponsors and partners and I intend to honour them. Everyone’s been very understanding and I’m thankful for that.

Mike Conway in Detroit

Mike Conway, in my eyes, is one of the most talented drivers currently racing, but he’s underestimated because he hasn’t had a run of luck to match that talent. He really stepped up in IndyCar’s Dual in Detroit. Watching his performance there and Sebastian Vettel’s race in Montréal, there’s no difference. They were both masters of the circuit, dictating the race from the front.

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

I got the call from Dale Coyne on the Monday before the race, did the deal on the Tuesday and Mike was on the plane to Detroit on Wednesday morning. He’s still only done one day of testing with the Dallara this year and one race at Long Beach with a different team. But from the moment he sat in the car he let everyone know he was back. He took pole, a race win and a podium in the second, plus two fastest laps. All with a team that isn’t usually associated with that kind of success on street circuits.

His performance has stimulated a huge amount of interest and opened up some people’s eyes; maybe there are drivers who are better on certain tracks. IndyCar is all about variety, whether it’s ovals, road courses or street circuits. If there are guys who are more comfortable on different layouts then maybe teams need two drivers who can specialise.

Thoughts on Le Mans

We’ve just come off the back of another Le Mans 24 Hour race and this year it was celebrating its 90th anniversary. However, it was without doubt one of the most difficult ones we’ve seen in recent years with the sad death of Allan Simonsen in the early stages of the race. The win was taken by modern day racing legend Tom Kristensen and his team-mates in the Audi – a record-breaking ninth Le Mans win for the Dane.

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

Mike was racing his first Le Mans with Delta-ADR Motorsport and initially seemed to have secured a great third place finish within his LMP2 class. Unfortunately the car was excluded this week for running a fuel tank of illegal capacity. Although slightly in awe of the circuit, he had a good race and, barring the exclusion, the team definitely had the potential to win – Mike said he felt he was learning a new aspect of the track every time he went out.

I for one have very special memories of Le Mans and I’ve certainly had my highs and lows. In 1990 I was on pole with Nissan, which was the first Japanese manufacturer to achieve that feat. I was also the youngest driver to get pole position there, six seconds ahead of the second place car. Winning with Peugeot in 1992 was amazing, with a French manufacturer on home soil, co-driving with class acts like Derek Warwick and Yannick Dalmas.

My first time there in 1989 was also the first year of Nissan’s programme and we retired after five laps, but Le Mans is that kind of race. You experience a whole season’s worth of peaks and troughs over the course of one week. That’s the beauty of the place.

Mark Blundell, in partnership with:

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans             mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

 

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans                       mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

To read more from Mark Blundell, click here.

mark blundell le mans  Mark Blundell on Conway and Le Mans

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Mark Blundell

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