When I got the call to say there was a seat available for the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in Rotek Racing’s Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, I immediately jumped at the chance, as it’s one race that is on every race driver’s bucket list, and, to do it so early in my career, is a real bonus.
I work with several companies and I’m on call 24/7, which requires a lot of work and takes its toll.
However, it goes a long way to funding my racing career and I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to race within some of the highest echelons of motorsport. I am also very fortunate to be able to switch easily between work and racing and simply jump in the car and get on with it.
I flew into Sydney Airport and then had a three-hour drive ahead of me to the circuit, but, as it was through parts of Australia’s beautiful countryside, it flew by fairly quickly. You don’t realise just how big and diverse the country is until you’re there.
The logistics of getting everything there are immense and although the team did a great job and had everything planned out perfectly, but things out of their control meant the containers arrived late and it was a mad rush to get set up and make first practice. That’s something you won’t see on the television! So much work goes on behind the scenes to make sure the weekend runs as smoothly as possible.
The drivers have it easy, as we get there once everything is in place and then leave before them. The team put in so much hard work and late hours for our benefit, and I don’t think they get enough recognition.
Between sessions, the drivers will look over all the data collected and discuss racing lines and setups, while making sure we’re fed and watered at the right times to cope with the sweltering Australian summer conditions.
In terms of getting fit for endurance races, I play five-a-side football every week. Due to the small pitch and intensity of the game, is a great way to stay on top of both my physical and mental fitness.
When at races, it’s important to look after yourself. I make sure I’m well hydrated and eat plenty in order to keep my energy levels up. When racing, you don’t really get hungry as your mind is elsewhere, but the times that you do eat are very important, so you need to manage your time well. I personally can’t eat less than an hour before getting into the car, as it makes me feel terrible and may affect my driving.
As for the 12 Hour itself, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of racing on ‘The Mountain’ and I’m delighted to have come away with a podium finish.
Mount Panorama is a fantastic track that requires your utmost attention and I believe that I settled into the environment nicely, considering I had never driven a Porsche 997 GT3 in a competitive environment prior to that weekend.
It was a relatively drama-free event, which allowed me to set competitive lap times during my stints and equal the times recorded by my more experienced teammates.
After the race, we had a debrief before heading to the after party in the evening. It was a very whistle-stop tour for me and I wasn’t really able to indulge in any tourist activities, as we flew home on the Monday following the race. I spent nearly as much time traveling as I did in Australia.
I would have loved to have spent a few days out there after the race and see some of the sights, but work commitments meant I was back on the plane, and, after 26 hours of traveling, at work at 9.00 on Tuesday.
Overall, it was a great weekend and I would love to go back next year in a higher-powered GT3 car and challenge for an overall victory.
Stay tuned into SportscarGlobal.com to follow my regular updates from the Blancpain Endurance Series – I can’t wait for this next chapter of my career to begin!