Tandy, Barker and Webster: issue 127 driver columns

Nick Tandy – the factory driver:
Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Earl Bamber, Nico Huelkenberg, Nick Tandy

When we first started this year’s test programme with the 919 Hybrid, the racing seemed a mile away. Now it has really crept up on us – in fact, by the time you read this, I will have already raced the LMP1 car for the first time at Spa.

It’s incredible to think how quickly I have gone from just getting used to driving the car to preparing in earnest to go racing at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

By going to the highest energy recovery class, by the rules’ very design, we should have the fastest car, if you can make the hybrid system work. By being the only car in that top 8MJ class, we theoretically have a lap time advantage that bore out at Silverstone where the Porsche was easily the fastest car.

How it runs over a double, triple or even quadruple stint at Le Mans will be a different test, but we are very pleased with the car’s base speed.

Last time Porsche won with the 911 GT1, the two cars qualified fourth and fifth. They weren’t the fastest cars but they were reliable. Even last year’s race proved Le Mans is still a reliability race; you still have to race twice around the clock.

Ben Barker – the Supercup superstar:
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Barcelona 2015

After two issues of effectively stalling, I can now officially confirm I will be racing in the 2015 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup with MOMO-Megatron. I was originally going to contest the championship with a new team – as you read in issue 125.

However, that deal fell through at the 11th hour for several reasons. Welcome to motorsport! Thankfully, I know Andreas – the team boss of MOMO-Megatron – quite well and he opened his arms to get me into the team at such a late stage.

A lot of other teams wouldn’t have been able to do the same for me as they had already locked in their driver line-ups.

For 2015 I’ve got my own engineer coming to the team with me. Frank Funke was part of my original plans as he’s a really good engineer, so I’m glad he’s on board this season.

911 Cup racing is all about the driver-engineer relationship, as well as having a good mechanic to put a set-up on the car. While it’s not strictly a team within a team – you don’t withhold information from the other cars – you act as a little unit of three within a larger outfit.

Josh Webster – the Carrera Cup champion:
Josh Webster Spa

After signing off last issue full of optimism, the final day of my preseason testing at Spa-Francorchamps brought me back to earth with a rather large bump.

Things were going really well until I had a huge accident in the final few laps of the day after I ran slightly wide at Pouhon, the fast, double left-hander. Running on the Astroturf, I hit a bump at 120 miles per hour, launching the car into the barrier at 98 miles per hour.

I definitely felt the after-effects of the massive 44-g impact. My right arm was flung around inside the cockpit, tearing some muscles in my shoulder

Still, it was nothing reams of sports tape couldn’t take care of. Of more concern was that the accident had written off my GT3 Cup car’s shell. Team Parker Racing had to strip the car back to the bare shell, take it to Germany and pick up a brand-new one, all before arriving back on Wednesday at 1pm.

From there, the guys had to build a completely new Cup car from scratch, wrap it in the usual full livery by Thursday afternoon, and then travel straight to the first race meeting ready to get going again.

To read all three of our racers’ columns in full, make sure you pick issue 127 in store now. Alternatively order your copy online or download to your digital device here.

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