Time flies when you're having fun


When I arrived at Sebring last week I realised that it was there that we took the first ever win for Aston Martin Racing, 10 years ago! That was in the DBR9 and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the start of a big adventure for me; an adventure that I’m still having as I enter my 11th season as an AMR works driver.

Before Sebring I had a busy week of testing, which took me to Italy and Spain for two very different reasons. I haven’t been involved in the road car side of things before so it is a real pleasure to team up with Aston Martin to work on new projects such as GT12 and Vulcan.

Off I went to Nardo in Southern Italy to work on the GT12 car. It’s certainly different from race car testing and I found it really interesting to work with the Aston Martin engineers on a car that is destined for the road rather than the track. I’m used to persuading engineers to set a car up so I can squeeze the last thousandth of a second out of a lap time but for this programme it’s all about getting it right for the road.

After that I went straight to Monteblanco in Spain for the annual AMR winter test. This gets the works team together with the customer teams at a tricky little circuit that’s made up mainly of first and second gear corners. I think we learnt a lot about the Vantage GTE, some of which will give us a head start on 2016, but the majority of it was to optimise our package for the new WEC season.

Life is never boring when you go racing as I found out when a surprise trip was thrown in before I went to Sebring. Our title sponsor, Gulf, had a promotional event in Mumbai, so rather than flying straight to Florida I went via India, which is quite a long way in the wrong direction! It was good to go though as I really like the country – the event with Gulf was good and I had a great curry. It was a whistle-stop tour though, as I landed in Mumbai in the morning and that night I was on a plane to New York, en route to Sebring.

We were probably one of the few teams that hadn’t tested at Sebring over the winter so we knew we had a bit of catching up to do. I did four or five timed laps in the first session and the balance of the car was already good so it was nice to start the weekend with a car that was there or thereabouts on setup. Our pace was good when we were on the softer of the Michelin tyre options, but we struggled a bit to make the mediums work.

In the race we were strong on pace and if we hadn’t lost a wheel early on, which cost us a good few laps, we would have been in a position to fight for the podium, so it’s a bit disappointing. I never have a bad time at Sebring though. Even if you’re 11 laps down, if you’re out on the circuit it’s immense fun – turns one and 17 are just fantastic.

I’m off to the Nürburgring now for VLN 1, which means I’ve raced at two of my favourite circuits within the space of a week. I’m really looking forward to going back to the ‘Green Hell’. The last time we were there was for the 24 Hours last June so it has been a long time.

The Nordschleife is such an incredible challenge; not just to remember all the corners but just to get into the groove and get a rhythm going while dealing with the huge amount of traffic, which is made up of so many different classes of cars and racing ability.

At a WEC event we’re not in the fastest category so we have to look in our mirrors a lot. At VLN we’re in the quickest class so we’re always on the attack with traffic, which takes a bit of adjustment.

Oh, and I understand it’s going to be wet, so that’s going to be interesting…

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