We’ve finally been able to achieve what we always knew was possible - we claimed Gulf Racing’s first ever World Endurance Championship podium finish!
After a 6 week break between World Endurance Championship rounds, we headed to Mexico for the 6th round of the Championship.
The team had worked really hard during the break, particularly with Dunlop to help us understand how to get more pace and longevity out of the tyres. We were fairly confident that this track would suit our car given the fact it is a ‘low-deg’ track, and in the past is has suited the Porsche, but regardless of that, the team had also made some big improvements to the car in the break.
These improvements made it so much easier to hit the ground running on Friday – at another new track for me! In the first practice session the car felt good and we were feeling really positive about what was to come. The only concern at that point was the forecast of really wet conditions for the race and the unpredictability that comes with that. Fortunately this never eventuated and we were able to get on with our own thing.
The weekend got off to a really positive start with my team mate Ben Baker setting the fastest time in our class in practice, and was able to repeat this again in qualifying, topping his session.
A big part of our great result this weekend is also down to my other team mate, Mike Wainwright. He was incredibly strong and focused all weekend – every time he jumped in the car he made big improvements. It was by far his best race all year!
We were fairly opportunistic towards the end of the race when the full course yellow came out. I ended up doing a fairly long final stint instead of the planned 40 minute one, so I had a lot of track time! I was really happy with how the car felt, and when it started to cool down in my last stint the car was extremely fast – I was reeling in 2nd place by up to 2 seconds a lap. We were able to close the gap from nearly a lap down, to around 40 seconds in my final stint, but it just wasn’t enough. Maybe the forecast rain at the end that didn’t eventuate may have helped, but in the end we were really happy with P3.
Overall the car pace was good this weekend – we know we are still missing a little bit to be able to challenge for the win, but maybe second place might have been possible if things fell our way.
We are all pretty stoked to finish on the podium though – especially me! Not only was it my first FIA WEC podium, it was also the team’s first so it was a pretty special result – one I am really happy to have been a part of.
It was not only a huge relief personally to pick up that first podium, but also a huge reward for Mike, and for the team. To put a car on the WEC gird is a huge task so to come away with this result is a fitting reward for everyone’s hard work and dedication to the whole programme.
It was also really good to get this result this weekend as my sponsors from Aqua Maintain were in Mexico for the race. It great to be able to share this moment with them as a way of saying thank you for all their support!
So on to Austin, Texas now for the FIA WEC round at the Circuit of the America’s! During the break between the rounds I’ve been having a bit of a relax over this side of the world!
Texas is going to be rather different from Mexcio – we’ll go from cool, damp conditions in Mexico to stinking hot, humid conditions in Austin, on a very high speed, ‘high deg’ circuit! It’s likely to be one of the toughest circuits we will visit, particularly for our team, but you never know what it will deliver! We will take a bit of confidence with us after this one though that’s for sure, and I can’t wait to get back in the car!