Apart from Le Mans, any highlight for 2017 would probably be Malaysia - the last round of the Asian Le Mans Series - where we wrapped up the Championship. We had to win the race to win the Championship and it literally came down to the last 20 minute stint - but we did it!
2017 - REVIEW OF THE YEAR
From winning the Asian Le Mans Series with Tockwith Motorsport, my debut at Le Mans, and testing for Daytona with my new team United Autosports, it's been a busy year!
Asian Le Mans
The series was quite unique as I've never been to Asia before, so although it was similar on the racetrack it was interesting to see all the different cultures and slowly adapt to the different climates.
This was probably the hardest part, especially in China and Malaysia as it was really warm and humid, which made it more challenging to adapt and perform in the same way we had in Europe - it really was a physical challenge. But it didn't prove to be a major issue as we won the Championship!
Achieving 11th overall and 9th in class on my debut was really good; I was very happy with that! My driver performance, how I'd rate myself and my performance throughout the week, was quite good. Obviously you go out to win every race but realistically it was a really good debut.
Since joining the United Autosports team, I've been busy with Ligier testing which has been really good. We’ve covered a lot of mileage and experienced some of the developments and updates for the coming season.
To feel the difference and start to learn about the feedback that drivers should give with regards to upgraded parts and developments has been interesting. Obviously we're starting from scratch and some of the baseline ideas changed to where you ended up, so it was quite challenging in that respect to be patient and work towards where the parameters are for certain settings. I think through testing Filipe Albuquerque, United's regular ELMS driver who is hugely experienced in sportscar racing, and myself helped Ligier quite a bit.
That’s the other thing - Filipe was great throughout testing because whilst it was all going on and we were helping to develop the car for the 2018 season with the upgrades, he was also helping me with my driving and moving towards where I need to be for the start of 2018, so hopefully I can be on similar pace as the drivers at the front of the grid.
I'm in my fourth and final year of an Advanced Placement programme at TASIS (The American International School). It’s all been ok - they’re being very flexible so I’ve been able to catch up with my work when I return from all the testing we’ve been doing. This is really helpful as I’ve been able to focus and crack on with testing, as opposed to always being concerned about work that might be overdue from school.
Over Christmas I’ll be training for Daytona basically. My holidays will be determined by how much time I can spend in the gym in preparation for the 24 hours, because obviously it will be my first race since July and a 24 hour race so quite a challenging thing to get used to. During testing we did start to rack up the mileage with double stints to know where my fitness level was at, and, although the tracks don’t correlate, I still think I’m in good shape fitness-wise for the 24 hours. It’s still a big push until then - I wouldn’t want to leave anything to chance!
I'm really excited for 2018 with United Autosports. It’s a really strong team - they finished second this year in P2 and won in P3 in ELMS, so hopefully we can do one better next year in P2 and I think me and Filipe might be the key ingredients to coming out on top in ELMS.