From Nurburgring to Sepang!
The last month has been a bit of whirl wind from Le Mans to Suzuka, then the Nurburgring to Sepang - I feel like I’ve been living out of my suitcase! The Nurburgring is a mega track - I finished on the podium there in German Porsche Carrera Cup last year so I was looking forward to going back! It’s one of the only tracks I will race on this year that I have actually raced on before. Unfortunately it turned into a tough weekend for the Gulf Racing team.Gear box problems really hampered our running in practice, putting us on the back foot from the start of the weekend.
The guys did a really good job to get the car sorted ahead of qualifying though, and after making a few positive changes over night we were hopeful that our pace was going to be stronger.
I got to sit back and watch qualifying while Ben and Mike drove. It’s something that is unique to endurance racing and at a track like the Nurburgring it is good to get out and watch a bit as a spectator as well – not as good as being in the car of course!
Because of the lost track time we treated qualifying a bit more like a practice session ahead of the race. The pace we had was definitely an improvement on what we had earlier in the weekend, and the general car balance was better as well. The team had done a great job to improve the car with our limited running.
The weather at Nurburgring required a bit of guess work with much lower temperatures and the threat of rain appearing in the lead up to the race – rather than the forecast high temperatures. This was just another thing for the team to take into consideration when developing their race strategy. Unfortunately the promise we showed earlier in the weekend did not translate into a strong result in the race. We just struggled with consistency throughout the 6 Hour race so ended the race 5th in Class.
My stints were good – I was happy with my two runs, so no complaints there. It was really good to be back at the Nurburgring, but I am just disappointed that we were not able to come away with something a bit stronger after so much promise.
From the Nurburgring it was straight home, dropped off my dirty clothes and packed some clean ones, then straight back to the airport and on a plane to Asia! At the moment it feels like I am living out a suitcase – but I’m not going to complain – I’m living my dream!
The opportunity to race with Team NZ in the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup came about at Le Mans where the team were spectators. John knew he was unable to race so asked me if I would be able to step in and replace him – I jumped at the chance! I have raced with the team before – in the same Porsche Cup car actually. We raced together in the Bathurst 12 Hour last year and even managed to get a Class podium so it was great to get the opportunity to race with them again. Unfortunately things did not go to plan with the car developing a problem during the practice sessions which saw the team putting in really long hours trying to work out what the problem was and how we could fix it. By the time we got to qualifying, the car seemed to be in good shape and we were able to grab GT Cup pole for both races.
My team mate Graeme started Race 1 and everything was going to plan with Graeme driving really well – mixing it with the main GT3 Class above us! My run was interrupted by a safety car period, but it was a good race for us as we came away with the win. I had to deal with a few dramas during the race including some ongoing fuel pressure problems which hampered our run towards the finish, but overall it was quite positive.
I started Race 2 and had a bit of fun mixing it with the front running LMP3s in the early laps! I had great fun in the first half of my stint and pulled out a really comfortable lead in our class, but unfortunately by the time I handed the car over to Graeme we were dropping significant time on every lap as the fuel issues returned yet again. Graeme did an amazing job to nurse the car home and salvage 2nd place, which means Team NZ were able to leave Sepang still leading their Class in the Sprint Cup.
After Sepang it was back on a plane, but this time I headed to Australia for a quick trip home before the next round of the World Endurance Championship in Mexico in September. I can’t wait to get to that track – another new track to tick off!