In the spotlight – Adam Christodoulou

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He’s won four 24-hour races, two of them on the Nordschleife. Simon Arron met the recent AMG Mercedes recruit

His father is half-Greek, half-German, his mother British and for several years the surname caused havoc for sub-editors trying to work ‘Christodoulou’ into catchy headlines in the specialist press. During the early 2000s, Adam and cousin Riki were prolific kart stars.

Adam received a Cadet chassis for his seventh birthday and, after practising for a year, began racing. “I was out every weekend and usually at the sharp end,” he says. 

His kart career ended on a sour note in 2005, though, when his engine was found to be illegal. “I was allowed to race while they decided my fate,” he says, “but had to borrow equipment. I was still at the front, though, which hopefully proved something.” 

In January 2006 the MSA announced that Christodoulou’s licence was to be suspended for nine months. “That was tough,” he says, “because I was 16 and the thing I loved had been taken away. I still went to watch, mind…”

He switched to cars in 2007, finishing fourth – as leading rookie – in the Formula Renault UK Championship, which he won the following season. “It was the right title at the wrong time,” he says, “because the financial crisis had just hit. It was impossible to find funds for F3, so I decided to head for the States and found a cut-price deal to compete in Star Mazda.”

He won that, too, but the prize was a seat in the North American Atlantic Championship, which was on the verge of collapse. “Mazda was great and offered me an Indy Lights drive instead,” he says, “but by that stage all the top seats had gone. I told them I didn’t just want to make up the numbers, so Mazda suggested Grand-Am.”

Driving a SpeedSource RX-8 he finished fifth in the standings, despite missing the opening race at Daytona. “The deal came together too late for that,” he says, “but Mazda promised to put me in a car for the 2011 race. I called [fellow racer] Andrew Kirkaldy to chat about 24-hour races I could do, to get experience. He replied by asking if I could fly to Monza to drive a CRS Ferrari 430.” He and Tim Mullen finished third, after which Christodoulou was offered a supplementary race in Barcelona. “While I was there, I was asked to do a bit of tutoring with German amateur Klaas Hummel. That went well and opened the door to other opportunities.”

Since then Christodoulou has competed in a variety of sports car championships, sharing the winning Lapidus McLaren with Mullen, Hummel and Phil Quaife in the 2012 Barcelona 24 Hours.

He is also a Nürburgring 24 Hours regular. “I first went in 2011,” he says, “and had to finish one stint minus a door. It flew into the trees when a tyre blew out and the team didn’t have a spare…”

Things have since perked up. He scored a GT4 win on the Nordschleife in 2013 and the following year transferred to GT3, with Black Falcon. “I qualified fourth, which got people talking,” he says. “I hadn’t previously raced there in GT3 and nobody really knew who I was.”

He put a Black Falcon Merc on the front row in 2015 – and talks began about a full-time AMG role. “The deal was finalised earlier this year,” he says, “but before signing I had time to race at Dubai and Bathurst in Porsches…”

He describes his recent N24 win – shared with Bernd Schneider, Maro Engel and Manuel Metzger as, “My biggest to date. It’s a huge honour to be driving with someone like Bernd – he’s very down to earth. Having him in the team breeds confidence in everybody else. I couldn’t wish for anything better at this stage of my career.”

CAREER IN BRIEF

Born: 11/6/1989, Lichfield, England

1997-2005 Karting 2007 Formula Renault UK, 4th 2008 FR UK champion 2009 Star Mazda champion 2010 Grand-Am, 5th 2011 ELMS 2012 Barcelona 24 Hours winner 2013 Euro GT4 Cup, 3rd; Nürburgring 24H class win 2014 VLN 2015 VLN; Paul Ricard 24H winner 2016 AMG driver; Nürburgring 24H winner

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