After a frustrating debut weekend at Monza where – through no fault of his own – he didn’t even get a chance to race in the opening Endurance round of the GT World Challenge Europe, Jack Aitken finally gets a chance to mix it with the best for the first Sprint Cup race at Magny-Cours in France this weekend.
As part of Swiss squad Emil Frey Racing, Jack is driving a full season of GT World Challenge Europe in 2021, his first year in GTs, consisting of five Endurance Cup and five Sprint Cup races.
Aboard the #114 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo, Jack will again be partnered by fellow single seater graduate, Konsta Lappalainen from Finland, for a pair of one-hour sprint races with a mandatory driver-change pit-stop in each encounter.
The first of the weekend’s two races will be held under the lights on Saturday evening, a race setting Jack will be familiar with after making his Formula 1 debut at the Sakhir Grand Prix night race at the back end of the 2020 season. However, the Magny-Cours weekend will throw up a unique challenge for Jack, with the absence of full-circuit flood lighting and drivers instead having to rely on headlights and their wits.
Free practice, qualifying and Race 2 will be held in daylight conditions, meaning Jack and his team-mate have more than enough opportunity to get dialled into the tricky French circuit, which Jack last drove during a Formula 2 test back in 2018.
Both Lamborghini drivers will be hoping for a smoother ride this weekend than they experienced at Monza for the opening Endurance race of the year, where a puncture curtailed any chance of a strong result after a superb qualifying effort from Jack.
Having started seventh on the grid and racing in the wet, the #114 Lamborghini had been running strongly inside the top 15 – in a field of 42 cars – for most of the race, until a puncture badly damaged the left-rear corner of the Huracán, ripping the rear wing off and forcing the car into retirement.
This weekend offers a fresh chance for Jack to showcase his true potential in France: and he fully intends to grab it with both hands, having spent the last couple of weeks focusing on his Formula 1 role as reserve driver for Williams.
JACK ON… BOUNCING BACK FROM MONZA
“The race didn’t quite go to plan obviously, but it was cool to see how the weekend unfolded and learn that for the future, even though I didn’t get a chance to drive in the race itself. I did the qualifying session and did really well, so that was promising, and the pace was strong as well, so that’s always nice to be near the pointy end of the field. It’s also hard at times to keep track of where you are in terms of strategy and everything, but I loved it. I can definitely take away a lot from Monza that will help me this weekend. Now that I know more about the procedure, I can fully concentrate on just driving.”
JACK ON… THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A GT CAR AND F2 CAR
“There were definitely some aspects of the car which took a bit more time getting used to than others, for example, the traction control and the ABS systems, getting my head around that and learning how to get the most out of them. The car feels quite natural actually, because you can feel the weight moving around a little bit more, especially compared to Formula 2 car, so it’s quite intuitive and I’ve not struggled too much with that aspect. The biggest thing I need to get used to is the GT format and the different approach with sharing the car as well.”
JACK ON… WORKING WITH MORE THAN ONE TEAM-MATE
“They’re really professional and a great bunch to work with. They’ve obviously shown that they have a great set-up in GTs by winning two races last year and being successful previously with the Lexus programme. Everyone has been very helpful in easing me into the world of endurance racing, especially the other drivers who have been so generous with their experience, which is great. I think we have a lot of potential to pick up some good results this year, and I can’t wait to get started this weekend in Monza.”
JACK ON… MAGNY-COURS
“I’ve never actually raced there but I’ve tested in Formula 2 and GP3. I remember it being quite narrow, tricky, quite high-speed and with some technical chicanes as well: not an easy track. It’s not so often now that I’m on a circuit that’s new to me, so this is going to be a fun challenge. I’ve been preparing by watching some videos and talking to the engineers online for our usual briefing. That really helps because it just cuts down on the orientation time and means you can just focus on driving.”
JACK ON… THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ENDURANCE RACE AND A SPRINT RACE
“That’s a good question; I’ll take my lead from the other drivers but I don’t think the approach will be hugely different compared to the Endurance race, which is still pretty much flat-out. The Sprint race is a fun format, where you start the race that you qualify for, so that will help me benchmark myself. As usual, the aim is to learn as much as possible.”
Source. Jack Aitken