FILES FLY­ING HIGH

Af­ter ini­tial suc­cess in the UK, Josh Files is now a man mak­ing waves in Europe.

Motor Sport News - - Profile: Josh Files - By Jack Cozens

Four ti­tles in seven years. That’s the re­mark­able record of suc­cess Josh Files has to his name, de­spite a far from con­ven­tional ca­reer path so far.

An im­pres­sive first full year of rac­ing in 2010 net­ted the Thor­ough­bred Sportscars Cham­pi­onship over­all crown and helped Files to progress to the Re­nault UK Clio Cup – win­ning the series in his third year in 2013, which he backed up with the Clio Eurocup ti­tle in the same year.

The two years af­ter­wards brought some Clio suc­cess, but were slightly more tu­mul­tuous.

“I did both [Clio UK and Eurocup series] in 2013 and I won both, which was great,” says Files, whose record is all the more im­pres­sive given he didn’t race karts. “But be­cause the Eurocup didn’t fin­ish un­til Novem­ber, we didn’t make any de­ci­sions for 2014 and as a re­sult we were too late to re­ally put some­thing to­gether. I’d won two cham­pi­onships and then had noth­ing to do.

“I had another go at Clio Eurocup, but most of the oth­ers had new, more pow­er­ful cars and my engine was knack­ered – so I gave that up.

“For 2015 I was of­fered a free drive in Clio Italia so that was a bit of a no-brainer re­ally. I had four DNFS through me­chan­i­cal fail­ures and be­cause I was so far be­hind we de­cided I’d back up my team-mate. I won the last race of the sea­son and in the end I only fin­ished 20 points be­hind – it was just a case of what could have been.”

For all his head-turn­ing on the con­ti­nent, though, it was an or­di­nary show­ing (on the re­sults front) at Ma­cau last year that laid the path for Files’ most re­cent suc­cess. Driv­ing an un­der-de­vel­oped Cam­pos Rac­ing Opel As­tra in the new-for-2015 TCR In­ter­na­tional Series, Files man­aged only a best fin­ish of 13th, but that per­for­mance caught the eyes of the Tar­get Com­pe­ti­tion squad.

“Every­one asks if it was a mis­take,” says the 25-year-old of his ini­tial trip to Ma­cau. “It was to go in that car, in hind­sight, but it was from there that I ac­tu­ally did the deal for 2016.

“I think they [Tar­get] were im­pressed that I’d man­aged to get the Opel around there. They didn’t wait to get home, they found me straight away and asked what I was do­ing next year… I was in­vited to their Christ­mas party, we got chat­ting and then did a deal.”

The ‘deal’ in ques­tion was a drive in the re­gional TCR Ger­many series, which Files was more than happy to take on in­stead of tack­ling the In­ter­na­tional Series im­me­di­ately given his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in “pow­er­ful tour­ing cars”.

That de­ci­sion proved a shrewd one. Start­ing the sea­son with a dou­ble win, Files added three more to his tally – the last of which sealed the Nor­folk racer the ti­tle with a race to spare. But even with a clean cham­pi­onship run, things weren’t as straight­for­ward as they ap­peared.

“We were meant to drive Opels, but the As­tra was just garbage,” he adds. “We made a de­ci­sion quickly and said to Opel we couldn’t drive the car. Tar­get hired back a SEAT from 2015 for Osch­er­sleben [round one]. I just put my per­sonal per­for­mance in and man­aged to win both races – given how badly we were on the back foot, that was quite an achieve­ment.

“We hired a dif­fer­ent SEAT for round two but I just didn’t get on with it. I don’t know why, there was just some­thing about that car – it was un­bal­anced, we couldn’t ever cor­ner weight it prop­erly. We had mas­sive, mas­sive un­der­steer on new front tyres and we just couldn’t work out how that was pos­si­ble.

“Af­ter that, we had a bit of a break and Tar­get said they’d buy cars for the next round. SEAT and Volk­swa­gen couldn’t de­liver, but Honda said they were ready. What luck that was, be­cause it’s just a su­perb car. Straight out of the box, the first time I drove it I said it was go­ing to win me the cham­pi­onship – and so it proved to be.”

Hav­ing found a base car to work with, the ti­tle rarely looked as though it would head any way apart from to Files. Come the sea­son end, he was 53.5 points clear of his near­est ri­val, and cel­e­brat­ing a fourth crown.

What’s next? A sec­ond trip to Ma­cau awaits this week­end, with Files tak­ing his cham­pi­onship­win­ning Civic and likely to be in much bet­ter shape than he was 12 months ago. Out­right vic­tory looks a long shot, with a six-car Chi­nese Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship con­tin­gent ex­pected to be faster on the streets of the Chi­nese Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion, but Files heads to Ma­cau with the am­bi­tion of mix­ing it at the front with the TCR In­ter­na­tional pro­tag­o­nists.

As for next year, Files made no se­cret of the fact that he wants to step up to the main series, but as yet there’s no deal in place – and he ad­mits one may not be sorted for some months.

But how­ever long one takes to sort, Files has proved he is up to

Files clinched TCR Ger­many crown in ’16

Clio crowns came back in 2013

First visit to Ma­cau led to ’16 drive

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