The per­fect start to my 2018

Ben re­counts his vic­to­ri­ous sea­son opener in Bathurst and ex­plains why his fu­ture could lie in the US

Total 911 - - Update -

Those of you who fol­low in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­sport closely will al­ready be aware of the re­sult of the Bathurst 12 Hours, but I’m pleased to re­veal to every­one else that the 2018 sea­son got off to a great start for yours truly.

I’ve made no se­cret of the fact that I love Aus­tralia, and the Mount Panorama cir­cuit in par­tic­u­lar, so win­ning there with Grove Rac­ing last month was the cherry on top of the ic­ing on the cake. This was my fourth ap­pear­ance at Bathurst with Grove and the sec­ond time the #4 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car has come out on top of its class, so that’s not a bad strike rate.

The ex­ces­sively pa­tri­otic yel­low and green ma­chine be­gan to feel more to my lik­ing through prac­tice, and I was able to claim pole po­si­tion half a sec­ond faster than I man­aged in 2017 and well ahead of our near­est ri­val to se­cure a place in the mid­dle of a 50-car grid for the 5.45am start (yes, re­ally). Start­ing a race in the dark at Bathurst is be­yond men­tal and cer­tainly wakes you up, even at that silly hour, but we sur­vived the ini­tial chaos and that set the tone for the rest of the event.

Al­though avoid­ing trou­ble on track meant that the race was rel­a­tively smooth, we did have to over­come an un­ex­pected twist when one of my team­mates, Bren­ton Grove, was taken ill be­hind the wheel. The team was able to draft in ex­pe­ri­enced Porsche racer Dan Gaunt to en­sure that the re­main­der of the event ran smoothly. The #4 even­tu­ally re­claimed the lead with four hours re­main­ing and went on to win by three laps.

The 12 Hours has be­come one of the ‘can’t miss’ events of the year – es­pe­cially on my cal­en­dar – and is the per­fect warm-up to the rest of the sea­son, but it al­ways proves to me that I’m def­i­nitely not a cold weather kind of guy! Af­ter en­joy­ing a taste of the Aus­tralian sum­mer, head­ing home to a bleak and blustery Blighty is never a com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence – which is just one rea­son why I’ll be head­ing off to Florida just be­fore you get to read this…

Rest as­sured, how­ever, that this isn’t just an­other hol­i­day, as I’ll be head­ing to one of the world’s most fa­mous races to do some im­por­tant net­work­ing for the fu­ture. Hav­ing sam­pled life in the IMSA Sportscar se­ries with the GB Au­tosport team a few years back, I’ve al­ways han­kered af­ter a re­turn, but I know that I can’t just rock up State­side and ex­pect some­one to put my bum in a seat. En­durance rac­ing in the USA, as in the rest of the world, is en­joy­ing some­thing of a resur­gence and the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Cham­pi­onship is flour­ish­ing at the mo­ment, so it’d be good to get in­volved.

It’ll be strange to be at a race meet­ing and not ac­tu­ally be rac­ing, but I’ll keep my­self en­gaged in the week­end by sup­port­ing a cou­ple of en­tries with whom I’ve had his­tory. Oc­ca­sional team­mate Egidio Per­fetti is com­pet­ing in one of the sup­port races, while one of my spon­sors, Mon­ta­plast, is back­ing the Land Mo­tor­sport Audi R8 in the head­line 12 Hour event, so there will be plenty to keep me oc­cu­pied. The FIA WEC vis­its Se­bring in 2019, too, so there is no harm in fa­mil­iaris­ing my­self with the cir­cuit ei­ther.

My main rea­son for be­ing there is to get my face and name known in US rac­ing cir­cles, and

I’ll be work­ing the pad­dock hard in search of an op­por­tu­nity to take my tal­ents back to that side of the At­lantic some­time soon. Wish me luck…

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