“Tandy’s career is a real rags to riches story”
Lewis Hamilton withdrew from last week’s planned Pirelli tyre test in Spain due to a sore foot. Hamilton had been due to test the new 2017 tyres on a modified 2015 W06 chassis at the Circuit de Catalunya last Wednesday, but backed out after suffering the injury in training. “It was agreed he wouldn’t test so he could rest and get physio to be in good shape for [the US GP in] Austin, which he will be ready for,” said a team spokesperson. Nico Rosberg took the wheel for the test instead.
Iremember the day clearly. It all began in the media centre at Zandvoort one Saturday in 2013.
Nick Tandy was on it. Clearly the fastest driver in both free practice sessions aboard the Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3R he was sharing with David Ashburn. Watching trackside, the Bedford man was in a league of his own in terms of both speed and commitment.
Tandy has been a favourite in British GT for years. Personally, I’ve known him since his Formula Ford and British F3 days. I’ve seen him at his best, and at his worst, and it’s been some journey.
It was in that room on the Netherlands coast that myself and fellow scribbler James Warnette decided to champion the #Tandy4lmp1 tag on social media. Most backed the idea that Tandy was destined for bigger things.
That hashtag arises every now and then when Tandy does get linked with a drive in the big time. His P1 debut at Spa in 2015 may not have brought the result he wanted, but it certainly stirred up interest. Then came Le Mans. It took Tandy just 24 hours to be catapulted into stardom, along with Earl Bamber, as they ran out shock winners. Well, it was a shock to those who didn’t know what Tandy was capable of.
After that? Road car calamity arrived, and no chance to defend the Le Mans win would be forthcoming. It was heartbreaking. So near, and yet so far.
Now there’s a seat available. Mark Webber has done a great job in LMP1, and silenced many of his critics. But he recognises the time is right to stop, and surely Porsche now has to look to either Tandy or Bamber as his replacement.
It’s hard to find another driver anywhere that would be more deserving than Nick Tandy. His is a true rags to riches story, tinged with triumph and tragedy. He has proven that true talent can get you to the top, even if you don’t have a hefty bank account to fall back on. It wasn’t easy by any means, and took plenty of sacrifice, but he took his chances when they came. Imagine what he could achieve given a proper, full-season chance.
Tandy or Bamber… I know where my vote goes.
On another note it’s truly concerning to read the reports currently circulating around Audi’s future Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship future. The four rings has become perhaps the most iconic modern-day sportscar brand, and losing it would be a hammer blow for both the world’s biggest motorsport event and a superb world championship.
Other brands have been linked with WEC programmes, such as BMW and Renault, but so far none have been forthcoming with projects and the lure of new, rival classes such as Formula E has stolen some of the WEC’S appeal as a haven for showcasing new racing technology. The WEC needs its brands, and star drivers, to survive and thrive. But it would take something special to plug an Audi-shaped hole.