GT racing's balancing act



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The last month has been hectic to say the least and there‘s no sign of an end to the rushing around just yet. Since last time I’ve competed in two World Endurance Championship races on two different continents, driven the Aston Martin Vulcan at two events, had my first run in the brand new Aston Martin Vantage GTE… and I’ve moved house!

It’s always good to go back to the Circuit of the Americas as, for a modern grand prix track, it’s a lot of fun. I also love racing in America. We go all over the world with WEC and we’re privileged to see a snapshot of lots of different cultures. I’ve raced a lot in the US over the years, though, and I enjoy the way they run their sporting events, especially as everything is done with a big smile.

Cirque du Soleil on the Austin grid

The WEC round was a double-header with the United SportsCar Championship, so it was also good to catch up with the Corvette boys and all the racing mates that you normally only see at Le Mans.

And the racing? I’ve touched on balance of performance before. The fact is we need BOP; you can’t really have GT racing without it. You’re making road cars fit the regulations to go racing and some marques will be more suited than others so you need BOP to sort that out.

We got hit with a big adjustment after Le Mans and since then we just haven’t been in the race.

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At Austin I managed to grab the lead at turn one after starting from third place, but it was only a matter of time before the Porsches ate me up. We’re pushing as hard as ever but there really is a second division at the moment. Our #95 car – the ‘Dane Train’, run by Young Driver AMR – has been pulled from Shanghai as the guys decided not to contest the race because they feel the BOP has made them uncompetitive.

The thing with BOP is that when you’re at the front you say, “It’s brilliant!” Someone is always happy and someone is always unhappy, but I think we’ve had it closer before. At the end of last year and the start of this year the racing was so close. We had a slight change for Fuji and it was a step in the right direction but just not enough – we still ended up a lap down. Let’s hope the technical guys can get together and work out what the adjustment needs to be.

Despite the on-track frustrations at Fuji, I had a great time in Japan. I had a bit of a drama on the first night, which is now known as my Princess and the Pea moment. Why are the mattresses always so hard in Japan? I ended up with such a sore back after the first night that one of the boys went out and bought me a new mattress. It’s probably the most diva thing I’ve done and I think he made that point by also buying me a very pink pillow. I had three great sleeps after that though!

The race was another tricky one. Jonny [Adam] took the start behind the safety car as it was pouring with rain. We struggled for race pace again though and finished in a rather lonely sixth place. There’s no BOP change for the next race in Shanghai, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for Bahrain.

I had my first run in the 2016 car at Aragon in Spain last week. It was good to see the progress that has been made and how the new regulations have changed the look and performance of the car. It’s still early days, but it was good to get the mileage in. Next year is going to be exciting with the upgrades and the new competition coming from Ford.

I’m in Shanghai now, having left behind a lovely new house that is full of boxes, two screaming kids and a not very amused wife.

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