A new team, a new car, new team mates, and new circuits – what a challenge!
Team - HubAuto Corsa - Ferrari 488 GT3
Blancpain GT Series Asia – Vice Champion (Overall and Silver Cup)
Suzuka 10 Hour - Overall Pole & finished 2nd in Pro Am Class
This year I joined the Taiwanese team HubAuto Corsa and spent much of the year racing with them in the Blancpain GT Series Asia.
For the team, it was their first full Blancpain GT Series Asia season, and their entry was the first ever full season entry from Taiwan. To be a part of a new team, from a country where motorsport is still very new, was really exciting.
What the team achieved in its first year was impressive; they proved themselves to be one of the best teams in the region, and at times this year we were even able to set the bench mark against some of the best in the business. We claimed pole position at the Blancpain GT Series Asia round in Suzuka, and again at the Suzuka 10 Hours where we were competing against the top GT3 teams in the world. We finished on the podium four times and won two races. The battle for the Championship came down to the last race - we only just missed out on winning the Championship, finishing in second place overall and in the Silver Cup.
As a racer, you are never satisfied with anything other than the win, but I think on balance this was a good year. We ran the whole season without a DNF. We were able to show we had good speed, and that we were able to consistently perform well. This played a big part in how close we came to the Championship win.
For me, it was my first full season racing in Asia. I have raced there before, but this year was a bit different. I was able to race on so many new and impressive tracks, and experience so many different cultures (and food!) outside the track. Racing with a Taiwanese team also meant I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in Taiwan – a country I really enjoy.
Overall the highlight of my year was claiming pole position at the Suzuka 10 Hour. That circuit is epic, and we were up against some of the best factory GT teams and drivers in the world, so I was pleased to claim pole position. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan during the race - a fuel pressure problem caused us to incur a drive through penalty, and a loss of around 10 seconds per pit stop. After such a strong performance in qualifying, this issue in all likelihood cost us the victory in our Class, and a shot at overall top 5. But we fought hard and claimed 2nd place in the Pro Am Class - so there were still plenty to be positive about!
After spending the first three races racing with Leo Ye Hongli, I raced with Jono Lester for the remainder of the season. In endurance racing your partner is really important, working with a guy like Jono who I have known for a long time was really good. We worked well together, pushing ourselves and the team to get the most out of the car.
In addition to the Blancpain GT Series Asia, I also raced with HubAuto at some of their home events, including rounds two and three of the Taiwan Speed Festival, (Round 2 was postponed due to a typhoon, so both rounds were run on the same weekend).
We won both rounds, claimed one pole position, and set a new lap record in the GT Class. I won the first race with Morris Chen (HubAuto team owner), and the second with fellow Australian Tim Slade. These wins meant I won the GT Masters Champion in the Taiwan Speed Festival!
2018 kicked off with my good friends Klaus Bachler, Stanislav Minsky and Murad Saltanov at the Dubai 24 Hour finishing 2ndin 991 pro class, even after we had a driveshaft and two engine belt failures! It was a challenging weekend, but the result made it worthwhile!
I was also crowned the Russian Endurance Champion at Kazan raceway. I raced there in a Gen 1 991 Carrera Cup Car again teaming up with Klaus Bachler and Murad Sultanov.
I also had the opportunity to again team up with Stanislav Minsky and race on two of Europe’s greatest tracks this year – claiming pole position and winning the Sports Cup Endurance race at Spa in a GT3R. I also claimed pole position and won the P9 Challenge Endurance race at Hockenheim in the GT3R.
Outside of the driver’s seat, I ran the race strategy in the 24 Hour of Spa assisting my friend Murad Saltanov to finish 3rdin the AM class in the number 488 Ferrari.
As always, I am incredible grateful to those who have helped me this year.
I would like to say a special thank you to the HubAuto Corsa Team Principle Morris Chen, who not only set up a great team, he also put his trust in me to race his magnificent Ferrari 488.
My thanks also go to my engineer Phil Di Fazio, my team mate Jono and the rest of the team for making this season as good as it was. I would also like to thank Revolution Racegear, BELL and AquaMaintain for their continued support.
And now our focus turns to next year!
First up will be the big one – the Bathurst 12 Hour with HubAuto Corsa in the Ferrari 488 GT3. It will be the team’s first trip to Australia, and they will be the first Taiwanese team to compete in the Bathurst 12 Hour. After such a strong first season with the team, I am really positive about what 2019 might deliver!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, enjoy the break and I hope you all have a happy and successful 2019!