Crash.Net ALMS News
Halfway through new horizons
11 July 2011
My first season contesting the FIA GT1 World Championship offered some exciting opportunities for 2011.
It's a completely new series to me, the Nissan GT-R is new to me, working with Jamie [Campbell-Walter] and the Sumo Power GT team is new to me. Even some of the team personnel are coping with their first season in the series, so I walked into a very different scenario compared to what I have been used to with Highcroft Racing and working in the American Le Mans Series.
Everything, from the format of racing to all the rules and regulations in a sense, has been like re-learning everything again and, naturally, there are times when you get it right and times when you don't.
I've raced in America for the last 13 years. I knew the routine, what to do and how to do it. So I could go out there and get the job done. Learning everything fresh has been a challenge in some ways, but that's actually something I always enjoy.
I think the FIA GT1 World Championship is a fantastic series. It's full of action and a lot of pressure. With such short races, you've got to perform every time you get in the car. Boy, you've got to get everything right and it's been good for me to go through that.
There's a really strong, quality, group of cars and drivers. The guys are all good at what they do and different cars are good at different tracks which means there's never one car dominating. It varies from track-to-track and that makes things interesting.
The World Championship title won't be decided until the last lap of the last round. I think that shows how competitive it is. The way the rules are and the balance of performance bodes well for the future of the championship.
The start of the season was understandably a bit of a learning curve for us all but we've grown and learnt at every round. As we head past the halfway point, we've got three third-place podiums under our belts. Now, as everything comes together, all eyes are on progressing up the rostrum.
Before the last round at Navarra, where we claimed third- and fourth-place finishes, we ran a really good test at Aragon. It was an important milestone for us as it was the first test this year, not only for me, but all the Nissan GT-Rs.
Trying to make do with what we have at a race meeting is not always ideal, but we managed. The test proved really positive and the results showed the potential we have. Particularly at Navarra, a track that doesn't really suit the car, we went really well.
I always think that, when you win, it is when you are ready to win and we're getting closer and closer with car #21. We'll obviously be looking to get that race victory at the next round at Paul Ricard this weekend.
Everything is getting better and better. We've got continuity with our NISMO race engineer and that's starting to show in the way we are working and the chemistry in the team. When all those things start to fall in line, better results start coming.
We're still embroiled in the 2011 championship fight. We have the opportunity to win and that remains our focus.
What happens in 2012, I don't know yet. FIA GT1 is certainly a championship I'd like to continue racing in, but I'd also like to be involved in the FIA World Endurance Championship and even the American Le Mans Series.
Of course, at this stage, it's all very much up in the air, but I am very keen to keep doing what I am doing as I'm enjoying every minute.