2000 – today
I’ve always wanted to do more international stuff so when there was a sports car race in Adelaide on New Year’s Eve 2000 I threw my hat in the ring with Panoz, who I knew from racing in the States. I tested the car at Sebring in early December.
They were already running Brabham so with me and Greg Murphy we ran a ‘Down Under’ team racing on the full GP circuit, which I’d never done in something that fast!
The Audis were certainly the quickest car there and we had a couple of incidents in the race but still finished third overall, which definitely gave me a taste for sports cars.
After that I did the 24hr at Bathurst in 2003 with Peter Brock, Todd Kelly and Murphy in a Monaro. We had quite an advantage because our biggest competition was our team-mates in the other Monaro: Garth Tander, Nathan Pretty, Cameron McConville and Steve Richards, who won the year before.
The cars basically ran pretty faultlessly, we both had little dramas but were on the lead lap not too far apart with an hour to go. Garry Rogers, who was running the car for Holden, decided it would be good for the cars to battle it out at the end whereas for the whole 24 hours it was pretty much hold-station for whoever was in front.
Garry told Murph to slow down, and at the time we thought it was for a formation finish, but he got on the radio and said that “all bets are off, first to the flag wins, just don’t bend it.” Fortunately Murph was able to hold onto the lead.
The next time I got in a sportscar came about through driving for Prodrive with FPR. They were sending out their Team Principle from the Aston Martin team to our race meetings to oversee some of the operation and he asked me whether I’d be interested in going over for a test and possibly doing some races.
I tested at Vallelunga near Rome and it went really well. It’s a big step from a V8 because of the downforce and they use a much better tyre than we do. Once I’d got my head around that though I thought it went quite well, which led to being offered some more races.
The first race was at Sebring in a 12 hour race overnight alongside Pedro Lame and Stephane Sarrazin. I’d tested there before with FF2000 on part of the circuit and with the Panoz on another part of the circuit.
The lighting at that circuit is nowhere near as good as at night races I’d done before so it was difficult getting used to a fast car on an unfamiliar track. We finished second overall; I thought that it all went really well and I enjoyed working with the team.
It was only really bad luck that meant I didn’t do Le Mans that year, when the Chinese round of the V8 Championship was cancelled, meaning the Winton date got moved onto Le Mans weekend.
My latest go in an endurance race was in a Shelby Mustang this year. It was a pretty late call and put together pretty quickly but it was a chance to go to Bathurst and do a race, which I never pass up. We didn’t have time to test the car properly before we went to the race but it was still a pretty good experience and hopefully if we do it again next year we’ll have a bit more time to test it.
I thought we started off the weekend a fair way off the eight ball but the pace was close to the Evos by the time we got to the race. Even so, there are a fair few things you need to win that race, like fuel economy, but we still won our class.