All posts by Chris Vlok

Steve and Jess got Engaged!

So as if the weekend couldn’t get any better, spending the day watching warbirds & F16’s fly around beautiful Wanaka, my brother Steve rang me to tell me that him and his long time girlfriend Jess got engaged…! How cool! I’m looking forward to the wedding already, and having another sister! As their official self proclaimed third wheel in their relationship I couldn’t be happier.

After that news, I drove down to Queenstown to meet them for dinner and a few much needed celebratory drinks! Certainly a weekend to remember, congrats again guys 😀

Warbirds over Wanaka!

So after an absolutely crazy busy 10 days in Melbourne for the Grand Prix, I got back home and instead of having a much needed quiet weekend to catch up on sleep and rest, I decided to head down to Wanaka in Rupert (King Rupert the M5) to go see Warbirds over Wanaka – an Air show that’s been running here in New Zealand for 15 years now!

The last time I had been was with my dad when I was about 14 or so… so it was pretty epic to go down for it again, this time as a “grown up”. Due to my fixation with speed & adventure, I absolutely love planes they represent a whole new level to me in terms of freedom and being independent. It’s one of the reasons I love cars so much, the ability to get in my car and go for a drive when ever I want, is a great feeling – to be able to just get in and drive, to be able to switch off all other thoughts or clear your head, just you, machine and the open road…. It doesn’t get much better than that…. Although maybe it does…! With planes I feel you have an added factor to this luxury, of being able to just fly away… it’s pretty cool to me.

Melbourne F1 Grand Prix

Man, what a weekend… it was so incredibly cool to finally be inside the F1 paddock, and get to see my ultimate goal from behind the scenes, right amongst it all.

The week leading up to it, the GP weekend itself, and the 4 days after have been some of the busiest days I think I’ve ever had, between my role with Acronis, our F1 partnerships, and our partnerships outside of F1… not to mention networking, presenting at our guests brunch, and ultimately enjoying myself!

One of my highlights of the weekend was being able to catch up with some of my old engineers & mechanics from my F3 days, who are now all working in F1… so it was super cool to catch up with them and see them in their element.

I’ve finally got some down time now on my flight home, so I’m catching up on admin, my blog + other projects I’ve got going on right now…! Looking forward to getting home and seeing Einstein and my family & friends… not so sure about coming home to colder weather though haha….



Lamborghini Bull Run NZ

So for the last 3 days me and my mate Brad have been road tripping down from Auckland in his Gallardo for the annual Lamborghini Bull run NZ. We’ve had a pretty fun trip down, we had to drive a car down for his sister at the same time, so we had a pretty crack up convoy going on with a bright yellow Gallardo being ghosted by a little bright blue Mitsubishi Mirage, so it made for quite a funny pair haha.

About an hour outside Taupo we had to deal with an accident that unfolded right in front of us which really sucked and put a huge damper on the mood for the day. It was actually so lucky, because it almost took out the Gallardo !!! We were following a big truck & trailer, so it was the truck, then Brad in the Gallardo, then me in the Mirage, and all of a sudden, this SUV coming toward us just drifted over to our side of the road, and clipped the back of the truck & trailer, which pulled it straight in front of the Gallardo missing it by probably 5 or so meters before hitting a bank on the side of the road… was pretty full on to say the least.

These sorts of things really make me appreciate and applaud emergency workers who have to deal with these sorts of things on a daily basis… I can’t imagine having to see that sort of stuff all the time! So my hats off to them.

The rest of the trip was a blast though, it was great to take South Highway 1 north of Kaikoura which has only just re-opened recently after the Kaikoura quake at the end of 2016! At this point it was 3 Gallardo’s and the Mirage as we caught up with two other cars doing the bull run in Wellington, so it was pretty awesome taking this convoy down such a rough road, and the sight of 3 (4 including the Mirage 😉 ) supercars taking this route full of road works certainly turned a few heads.

The last day of the run we spent at the private race track near my family farm which I’ve mentioned in some of my old posts, so we cut some laps there, and we were then meant to go back up to Kaikoura to check out a private car collection, but me and Brad opted for an early exit, as the last 3 days of driving, the roof down, and the NZ sun absolutely roasting us the whole time, we were well and truly ready for some chill time! All and all an epic trip, and I can’t wait doing it in my LP640 next year 😛

Paris

I have to say I’m really enjoying my time here in Paris… It’s such a great city! And to be seeing it from a locals point of view is super epic too. Of course we have gone and seen most of the touristy stuff too haha, but we’ve been eating out and enjoying the night life in some really great spots that only the locals know 😉 We’ve been averaging 13km’s of walking a day, so it’s been great exercise at the same time… maybe enough to excuse me from not having trained these last few days 😉 We’ve just got back to our Airbnb after a pretty massive day out walking around Champs-Élysées followed by one of the best meals I’ve had for a long time, and we’ve just realized it’s Paris Motor Show right now… so I’m busy organizing for us to go tomorrow and see that with some of my friends at BMW 😀

Paris Motor Show

So after a quick trip to Grand Prix Racewear to pick up some new gloves before the weekend, we arrived at the Paris Motor Show. I think it’s still pretty early days of the show so it wasn’t overly busy, but at the same time, there were quite a few people there, and definitely lots to see, which was great.

I’ve never attended a massive show like this, so it was great to see one of such high level first hand. We started off at BMW, before making our way around the show to see the various new cars & concept cars on display, as well as all the motorsport section which was pretty cool to show my Brother as he hasn’t seen as much of the top level motorsport stuff in person before.

Of course… as any car nut does when presented the opportunity… we dabbled in every simulator we came across during the day… mainly for me to try and embarrass everyone else giving them a go by smashing their lap times by a few seconds, and for my brother to try and beat me…. good old brotherly competition 😉

Back to New Zealand

So after a hectic weekend in Spa, it was straight on a plane back to NZ for the mid season break to go soak up some of the kiwi winter & prepare for the next race late September in Hungary. There’s nothing like getting off the plane and taking your first breath of crisp fresh winter New Zealand air when you arrive… heading to Europe I take the trip pretty slow and always stay overnight in Singapore to try give myself a night that is almost perfectly in between the time zones, but on the way home I just power through that in order to get home as fast as I can, always way too excited to get home and see all my friends and family.

This trip was no different, and besides getting home and starting experiencing what can only be described as a bit of a quarter life crisis in trying to make some sense of juggling my life that seems to always be on the go, and questioning whether that’s really what I’m wanting or not, it was a as usual trip home full of fun and adventures.

Besides training, I’ve been playing around with video making and editing to get a hang of things and I’m pleased to announce that in the coming weeks I’ll be launching a Vlog that will follow not only my racing, but also some of the escapades and day to day I experience in between races. This has been a pretty fun and interesting experience to play around with this and it’s made me pretty happy to finally be putting some of this stuff on film, as it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now but never had the chance / opportunity to give it a go, and ever since I bought a drone at Christmas time last year, my creativity has been steadily boosted with each time I’ve filmed something on it. So….. be prepared to some sick video’s to come.

Handyman Chris

Unbeknown to a lot of people, I actually really enjoy getting my hands dirty with some good old fashioned physical work, and my absolute favourite is when I’m doing something that eventuates in an end product that you can step back and say “I built that” or “I did that”.

The past week has been great in that sense, as me and my Mum have started to renovate our little farm cottage which was built inside of the original shearing shed on our farm from the early 1900’s. We turned half of it into a cottage to live in when I was about 11 years old, so that we could live in there while we built our house on our farm. This was quite an adventure as all 5 of us, my Mum and Dad, and older brother and sister all crammed inside a two bedroom flat for just over 2 years. For me it was very exciting and great to be so close to my family at all times given my young age, for me it was like camping or something haha…. But I think it was pretty trying at the best of times for my parents and especially my sister who spent her last two years of high school crammed in there with us, in that awkward phase of your teens where your parents are super lame and you know more than everyone else in the world combined. That being said though, we all hold some great memories from those two years living in there together, and it really made us appreciate what we have in life.

Back to the renovating though…. It’s been a hectic week stripping everything out of there, re-painting, putting in new floors, new plugs & lights, repairing drywall, and assembling the new kitchen – all of this with quite a rush, as we have some guests coming to stay in there pretty soon, and with me leaving back to Europe soon for my last two races, it’s meant we’ve been pushing to get as much done as possible. Right now we’re pretty much 90% of the way there with all the painting done, new flooring, and most of the kitchen assembled, but now we’ve gotta wait till I return from Europe as some crucial parts of the kitchen didn’t arrive in time for me to put anything up/install it. So now for the next few days I’ll spend it gearing up for my trip back to Europe for my last two races, and although only 3 weeks long, it’s set to be super fun with my Brother and his Girlfriend joining me for my whole trip! Until next time. Chris

Birthday at 32,000Ft & Singapore GP

Birthday at 32,000 ft & Singapore GP

As with most of my trips to Europe to race, the few days leading up to leaving are pretty stressful, running around trying to get everything sorted and packed without leaving anything behind or till the last minute. This trip was no different, and I also had to fly out on my birthday which was pretty lame, and marks like the 5th birthday I’ve had away from my family and friends at home…. But this feeling was pretty short lived and I was made to feel at home very soon after take-off on my first leg with the crew bringing me a piece of birthday cake & some champagne which was great. One good thing of always flying the same airline and route is that you soon come to know the staff & crew around that journey very well, which is quite cool.

Even greater than my glass of champagne and massive slice of cake which I couldn’t finish, though, was the fact that I was flying to Singapore for the night on the same weekend as the Singapore GP… and instead of getting off my flight and then chilling at the airport transit hotel for the next 22 hours, I was stoked to have a few of my friends from the F1 circus waiting for me in the city, and so after quickly getting freshened up I boosted into town to meet them, and first watched F1 qually from the Marina Bay Sands, before spending the rest of the night having awesome Mexican food & drinks at my friends restaurant Super Loco at Customs Wharf, which was epic!

I’m now waiting to board my flight to Europe & my last two races of the season… bring it on!!!

Frankfurt to Budapest

So after a very pleasant flight with another whole row to myself, and as a result sleeping for 9 hours straight instead of my usual routine of staying awake all flight so I’m tired when I arrive… I had pretty bad jet lag after arriving, and was only able to get 3 hours of sleep in before waking up wide awake at 3:30 am the next day… so I spent the morning catching up on some work on my friends couch here in Bensheim at 4:30 am Monday Morning. One of my best friends from New Zealand, Dudley, moved here just over a year ago with his girlfriend, and since Bensheim is so close to Frankfurt where I fly into each time, I get the chance to stay with him for a few nights each time I arrive and before I leave back home, which is awesome. One of the worse parts to traveling so much, (and dare I say growing up) is that you end up having friends all over the world, and never all of them in one place at the same time…. But lately it’s been pretty epic that my travels & schedule has allowed me to catch up with friends all over the place!

Besides spending most of the day being excessively tired, I managed to power through the day, squeeze in a run, get all my stuff organized for today’s trip, and even got the chance to go check out my friend Dudleys new work, where he’s busy doing a Wine Making apprenticeship, which was super cool.

The next day was spent on a 6 and a half hour train down to Salzburg, and that was followed by today, where me and one of the other drivers in my team, Caitlin, boosted down to Budapest together in a rental car – which was pretty good…. And we also took plenty of video… so that should follow shortly too! /Chris

Hungaroring

This weekend was pretty trying I have to admit. Besides having my brother Steve with me which was epic to be able to finally have him here for one of my European races which he’s never been able to come to. For probably my favourite track I’ve ever raced at, after having such great success here 4 years ago in my first every Euro F3 race, it wasn’t as good a weekend as I’d hoped for. We struggled all weekend with set up, and then I struggled again in both races again with the common trend of this season – which in every race, as a driver, you have to make a decision fairly soon into your stint, whether to race…. Or to find a clear running space to pump out fast laps to score points for the internal championship going on within our team… and for me as a racer, I am never able to commit properly to the absolute ridiculous notion of slowing down, letting cars pass you etc…. just to find a piece of clear running space and then going quick again.

To me the point’s system our team put in place for the series creates a massive of conflict of interest, and defies the point of racing. Basically how it’s set up means that you don’t get any points for qualifying position, or finishing position of the races. Instead each driver is ranked in order of the average of their 5 fastest race laps… which basically means when you’re running in a championship with multiple different manufacturers and BOP’s (Balance of Performance) – you end up having to engage in some pretty full on battles with other cars throughout the races, mainly for us defending for overtakes on the straights where we lack top speed, and then having to take gaps and pass in the high risk areas of the circuit, braking zones and turns, where we are at an advantage to the other cars. While all of this is great…. It means that if you’re battling a Porsche or Maserati for the lead of the race each lap, you’re going consistently slower than some punter in 10th place, who is all alone on the track, and is able to go consistently slightly quicker than you in clear running space.

That isn’t racing, and I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated it makes me having to try to do one or the other, and I always end up unable to commit to one option, and end up trying to do both, which ends up with me doing a poor job either way. I still to this moment in the season don’t understand the stupidity in the points system. How it is now is basically time trials all weekend, and theoretically, one could fart around all weekend in practice and qually to save your tyres for the race, start right at the back, avoid all the risk & potential contacts of a race in the opening laps, and then pump out 5 quick laps at the back, and be declared the winner… it’s quite frankly a joke.

Racing to me, is the competition between drivers to race, and to be the fastest. That result and title comes from multiple factors, not just going fast around a track. It’s being the fastest, and the best, in all aspects. Qualifying, Starting, Pit stops, Passing, Race Craft, Managing your Tyres…. and for me after having raced at much higher levels of motorsport to come back to such stupid rules and point system really makes me feel unmotivated.

So anyway for now, we look forward to the final race of the season in two weeks in Zandvoort, which will be really interesting. I will be going into the weekend 100% with my usual way of driving, giving everything I have right till the chequered flag.

South of France

After a very tough and stressful weekend, it was fantastic to head back down to the South of France with my brother, and meet up with his Girlfriend and her family in Grasse, just near Nice. Over the last few days we’ve travelled around by car, Me, my Brother Steve and his Girlfriend Jess, and her Brother Dan and his Girlfriend Cassandra.

It was awesome to be able to show them around my old home (my 6 week home haha) of Monaco, and it was perfect timing as it was the same week as the annual Monaco Yacht Show, so with plenty of impressive things to see, it made for a great day trip before heading back to Grasse to do what us South Africans do best, braai (Barbeque).

The next day we said goodbye to the rest of Jess’s Family, and Me Steve and Her travelled to a little ancient fortified town, Saint Paul Devence… which I have to say, was one of the coolest places I have ever had the pleasure to experience. We stayed in the very heart of the old town in an Airbnb, and enjoyed a very relaxed evening drinking red wine and enjoying the French cuisine, well into the early hours of the morning….. and I know what you’re thinking… not the usual story for a racing driver mid season…. But hey… when on holiday 😉

We culminated our time in the Cote D’Azur in Nice for the last two nights taking it fairly slowly, as per holiday guidelines… and we’re now heading up to Paris by train for the next 4 nights… for me anyway. Steve and Jess are meeting me in Amsterdam two days later, where as I leave on Wednesday next week. So for now we’re looking forward to spending some time in a big city, and one especially as beautiful as Paris. Me and my Brother haven’t been there for about 14 years…. Whereas Jess was recently living there, so we’re looking forward to having our very own guide to show us the sides you don’t experience as a tourist J

SPA Review

A weekend racing at Spa is never bad… but this one could have been better! It was great to be back at this legendary track, and I was feeling very confident in the car all Friday in practice. Unfortunately Qually didn’t go to plan as I had traffic each lap which was annoying, but it didn’t effect us to much in the end anyway as our starting postion for Saturdays 2hr race was taken from the average time of the quickest lap of both me and my team mate Immanuel, and with such changing conditions between the two qualifying sessions, it was impossible to get some consistancy and basically just came down to luck. Saturday was a super rough day at the office, and a painful reminder of how cruel this sport sometimes is! I started the race and managed to avoid a chaotic first corner and lap, which very nearly ended our race. I handed the car over to Immanuel after 35 minutes, where he ran a solid 50 minute stint before handing the car back to me for the remainder of the race. We had mega pace and I faught my way up to P2, with the lead car still having to make their final pit stop. Coming onto the start finish straight on my 7th lap of my stint, both drive shafts decided to call it quits forcing me to retire the car just along the pitwall costing what would have been our first win of the season. Super hard to swallow but proud of our effort none the less. On the plus side, I didn’t have far to walk back to the pits…. 😉

Spa Preview

So as my trip nears it’s end, I’m starting to get pretty excited to be racing at one of my favourite tracks again soon on the 7th of July. Spa Francorchamps is definitely one of the greatest tracks in the world, and my last time there in Formula 3 ended with me on the podium a couple times & starting from pole for the first time in F3, and in the wet. Sadly my start to that race definitely wasn’t the best in my career haha, and the thrill of  leading the field on the formation lap up to the starting grid ended pretty quickly when the lights went out when I dumped the clutch a little too eagerly and basically sat still in my grid box doing a burn out for what seemed like for ever, while almost the whole field passed me into turn one….!

Needless to say that won’t be happening this weekend thankfully rain or shine as we enjoy rolling starts in the GT4 championship!  But no I’m looking super forward to getting back in the car.

Sponsor day

So over the last two days, I’ve been with my team and our sponsors Internet X at a special event arranged by them and one of their close friends World Hosting days – together they invited around 50 of the worlds best from the hosting industry, and we were there to show them how to drive and share what it is we do with them. which was pretty cool because we don’t often get the chance to do that, or let alone take people for rides… especially me considering I have driven single seaters most of my time racing!

The track day was held is a super sick location just out of Salzburg at the Salzburgring, which is set in the middle of some hills & forrest, so it’s pretty beautiful. The first day we were there we were kind of doing our own thing, and setting up for all the guests the following day, where we took them for laps in our KTM X-Bow, along with the Reiter GT3 Camero & GT1 Murcielago.

Met some great people over the course of the weekend and really enjoyed showing them what I do and how I do it. My highlight was definitely taking a 9 year old boy of one of the guests around for some hot laps, while he was meant to be at school for the day. He was so super excited and to see his excitement beforehand and the massive smile on his face afterwards was super cool.

Leogang World Cup

This weekend I made another dream come true, to attend the UCI World Cup Down Hill race in Austria! I’ve always dreamed of coming to the WC here ever since I used to race Downhill when I was younger, and after seeing some guys on downhill bikes on my way up to Salzburg, I was suddenly reminded of this and checked to see if there were any races on while I’m here. I was super stoaked when I saw the Austrian WC was this weekend and just 1 hour drive from Salzburg down in Leogang! And after a super fun weekend here and watching some fellow Kiwi’s that I used to race against in my downhilling days shread down the slopes here in Leogang I have a new desire to get back into riding.

I think the thing I enjoyed about the weekend the most was the fun of it all. It’s serious racing, the best of its kind in the world, they’re the best riders in the world, the teams too, but its also a seriously relaxed and fun environment. Fans and riders interact and it’s not uncommon to be sat at the bar next to a rider on Saturday night before the race on Sunday, and both be enjoying a beer. I don’t think there’s any other pro sport in the world that is so relaxed and where the stars and fans interact so much.

Further to this, I enjoyed mostly the fact that it’s relatively affordable as a sport…you buy a bike, ride it, and if you’re good you get a factory team backing you to travel the world and do your thing. You don’t have to throw money at it every second to keep it alive like any motorsport.

Of course…. I don’t think you’ll see me doing anything too serious on a bike anymore as I don’t want to get inured for racing… but I can definitely say I’m going to start getting into it again. Who knows… maybe I’ll get back into it as a team owner 😉

Leaving Monaco

So after just 4 weeks of living in my “dream” city, I’m moving on. At risk of sounding seriously negative, I would like to say I’ve enjoyed my time here, but the truth is I have easily lived in much cooler & more enjoyable places. Don’t get me wrong…. Monaco is exceptionally beautiful, but for me it didn’t quite fill the big boots I guess my expectations left for it.

To wake up every morning and see a harbour full of superyachts, walk down the road to get coffee and croissants and be passed by countless supercars, while you glance into the windows of luxury boutiques, is pretty cool, but only for a few days… I guess it would be different if you can wake up on your yacht, drive your Ferrari down the road to get coffee and stop and buy a new 50,000 euro watch along the way… but being surrounded by so much wealth and opulence soon gets pretty old, and whilst it is inspiring to begin with, after a while it starts to make you think about what you don’t have, as opposed to what you do have, and that’s one of my main reasons of leaving. My second reason is one that I’m sure anyone who has been to Monaco will also agree with. Walking around the streets (Grand Prix week is an exception to all of this by the way, when Monaco is like a different city) there seems to be a certain emptiness that echo’s around the place. A kind of dullness that I can only compare with the feeling you get when you wonder the streets of a ski town in the middle of summer. It’s a place absolutely crammed with glitz and glamour, yet it’s clear to see that for the vast majority of people that live in Monaco, they do not actually spend much time there, rather it’s purely a place for them to escape to in between their extremely busy lives of traveling around, the best example I can make is an F1 driver… to them Monaco must be great, they save on tax, and they are traveling every second week anyway so to go back to a beautiful quiet paradise like Monaco would be fantastic.

On the flip side, for me to sit and watch these people come and go only made me envious that I wasn’t doing the same! I am fine with living in a quiet place having grown up in a small farming town, but I think the difference is for me I prefer to look out the window in the morning and feel inspired by beautiful things that don’t cost anything that I know I can enjoy no matter what, and that’s a feeling I’m very used to living on a farm in New Zealand. To wake up and know you have the freedom to go and do what you want, and not feel limited by not having enough money, which is certainly the feeling you get in Monaco without having extreme disposable income, you get an overwhelming sense that you can’t partake in anything going on around you – which is super lame!

So now I’m heading back up to Salzburg area, which is full of nature, mountains, green fields and good vibes 😉

Monaco GP

Attending the Monaco GP in the weekend meant another dream come true for me… and I can happily say it exceeded my expectations through and through. I think the fact that I’m still feeling a bit chalky writing this on Tuesday afternoon, goes to show just how full on the weekend was. From arriving back to Monaco late on Thursday afternoon from my Munich trip, I was already pretty tired, but there was no time to rest, and I was literally straight off the train to my apartment to drop my bags off and freshen up, and on my friends Yacht in the heart of the action in less than 45 minutes after arriving!

It’s great how things always seem to fall into place at the last minute, because I hadn’t really had time to plan anything for the weekend in terms of where I would watch from etc, because there was a possibility I was going to be at the Nurburgring 24h instead which is the same weekend… but with only a few days in hand and still no plans made, I remembered that one of my old team mates from F3 days’ manager had invited me onto her yacht a couple years ago… and so it was a case of a very late RSVP 😉

Besides just being on a yacht in Monaco for the Grand Prix, I met some super cool people, and made some awesome friends. Some of the highlights of the weekend included partying with Sergio Perez’s family and friends who were next to us on their yacht, and also being personally invited by Eddie Jordan to enjoy his band live on the roof of the Yacht Club De Monaco along with a couple of my new friends from the Yacht I was on – Impulse, Chris & Collin from Kiltads. This led to a pretty epic night that somehow culminated with us in a booth at one of the most exclusive clubs in Monaco without paying for anything…. though I’m sure some poor dude would have copped the bill at the end of the night, I’m sure as hell glad it wasn’t me!

BMW Factory Munich

So after a few days back in Monaco, I made my way up here to Munich where I had a few meetings for a new project I’m working on in Health Care. Of course being in Munich there was no way I was going to miss going to see the BMW Factory and Museum, the heart of the very reason I started racing, through my love for old BMW’s which I acquired during high school when me and my brother Steve started buying and selling second hand cars to make money!

It wasn’t long before we developed a fondness for the E30, and it soon led to a fixation for us with the “golden era” of DTM through the E30 M3, and it was this that eventually inspired me to turn an 1984 318i that I had bought as a parts car, into a DTM look a like, just to take to the track now and then for fun… but I won’t get into that just yet, that’s a whole other story!

Having said that though, it was one of my absolute highlights today to see in the flesh the actual car that inspired me all those years ago to go against what everyone was telling me, and turn this pristine E30 into a track car… Hope you enjoy the pics as much as me, and I look forward to sharing that story about the E30 soon in another post!

GT4 pau review

What a fantastic weekend…! Thoroughly enjoyed myself overt the last few days. The event itself reminded me a lot of Trois Rivieres which I touched on briefly in my last post, and so it really made me super pumped all weekend to be reminded of such good memories constantly everywhere I looked!

The whole town truly turns into a racing town for the whole event, and it makes for such a nice atmosphere when everywhere you go there is so much enthusiasm for motorsport and everything that goes along with it!

Atmosphere aside, the racing was great. We’re still ironing out some minor issues with the car such as the downshifts, which are still giving us a hard time when under abs. But apart from this the KTM was an absolute rocket ship here all weekend. This weekends balance of performance saw us loose quite a lot of RPM with a reduced RPM, so it made passing very difficult, and for a track where it’s really only possible to pass on the straights, it meant we didn’t have enough power to make it happen, in fact we ended up loosing substantially on every straight, no matter how close we were to the two Porsches infront, they would just pull away on the straights.

Qualifying was very frustrating for me, I was the quickest on track, but I didn’t get one clear lap in, until right on the last lap, where I had purple sectors until our downshift demon hit hard going into the final chicane, and when I needed 2nd gear I instead had 3rd gear and a whole lot of turbo lag for my drive onto the start finish straight – which ultimately cost me what would have certainly been pole position for race 1, so that was very frustrating, but it was still good enough for P3 and the second row of the grid, which was better than nothing.

Race 1 ended with mixed emotions, it started off great, and I held on to 3rd place with massive pressure from the 4th place bmw behind me, and the two Porsche Caymens started to pull a large gap to me, but after a couple laps into the race, I was able to pull a gap on the bimmer behind me, and caught up to the two Porsches, who continued to pull away from me on the straight each lap when I was right on their tail and ready to pass, so it was pretty frustrating, but then to make matters worse, we top 3 had been running our own race for quite some time, when we hit a lapped car who then proceeded to let the two Caymens through under blue flag, but raced me under blue flags for a whole lap before he let me pass, which let the BMW behind me catch up and squeeze past me, so that was seriously annoying and unfair, and ruined some great racing. This was only the beginning though as it was at this stage basically dark, and with our radio not working, and not being able to see the pit board, I didn’t know when to pit, which resulted in me coming in 2 laps early, and the team & Immanuel my team mate not expecting me – so it was absolute chaos, not to mention it had started to rain, and there was mass confusion whether we should switch to wets or not, but given it was Immanuels first time in the wet & at a street circuit I made the call to switch, and amidst all this confusion, the car stalled and we lost our pit timer, so we ended up releasing Immanuel around 40 seconds later then we had to.. so that dropped us right back and from there we were sitting ducks when the track started to become quicker in the closing stages of the race on slicks.

Race 2 wasn’t much better, and Immanuel was running a solid 10th place before touching a road marking on the exit of turn 9 and touched the wall ending our race before I got a chance to drive – so it was disappointing, but at the same time that’s racing, and it’s just how it goes sometimes, especially in endurance racing when you’re sharing the car…. So onwards and upwards to race 3 in almost two months time in Spa!

GT4 pau preview

My second race of the season is fast approaching, and I’m looking seriously forward to it! The annual Grand Prix de Pau is coming this weekend, and after following it each year through Formula 3, but having never getting the chance to race there myself, I’m pretty pumped to get cracking!

I have a true love for street circuits, after my first ever one in Trois Rivieres Quebec Canada back in 2011 in Formula Ford led to one of my favourite races of my career ever, battling from like 9th place to finish on the podium in 3rd with by far the most pace out of anyone on track…. So since then I have always loved street circuits!

I’ve gone on to race at a few since then, like the Canadian Grand Prix, as well as Adelaide Australia, which was my first Formula 3 race ever, which I think also helped my confidence I now have to street circuits as it was my first time experiencing a car with so much downforce, and having to trust it straight away at a track with walls everywhere! So with all these positive experiences at street circuits I’m feeling very confident for the weekend ahead!

Moving to Monaco

For the past 4 years ever since first visiting Monaco in 2012 for just one night, I have dreamed of living here while racing full time in Europe. I can finally say that dream has come true for me….! It feels surreal to be staying here after dreaming about it for so long, and finally being able to explore it in person, not just on Instagram 😉 My flat has some pretty epic views, and even though my flat is way up on the hills, it’s a pretty epic location… and the complex I’m in is complete with it’s own pool… just in case I don’t want to go lie on the beach 😉

So far, my reactions to this beautiful place are 1.Wow it is expensive and 2. It’s quite boring! I knew from my first time here that this was the case, but between staying for one night 4 years ago when I was only 19 and didn’t have any real interest in saving money, or quaams about of spending 40 euros for spaghetti bolognaise and a glass of coke, but it seems this time after growing up a little bit, and having a lot more responsibilities financially speaking, to go out for dinner here is equally as stressful as it is pleasant.

That being said, I am actually rarely going out to eat, and I’m enjoying having a kitchen to cook my own meals for the first time in 3 weeks after staying in hotels the whole trip so far anyway!

Ferrucio Lamborghini’s 100th Birthday celebrations

This week after Monza I’ve been hanging out in Milan for the first time, and enjoying some much needed downtime being a tourist in between training in the mornings, and then on Thursday I drove down to Bologna to attend a special event that I was invited to, to celebrate what would be the 100th birthday anniversary of Ferrucio Lamborghini, with Lamborghini.

I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something so seriously cool before, and it was by far one of the best things I’ve been able to experience through motorsport / cars, joining my friend in his straight piped Murcielago LP640 amidst 50 other lamoborghinis with a special police escort from the Cabinari Stradale at over 200kmh through Bologna and it’s surrounding area… it was simply unreal.

On Friday we conquered the infamous Futa Pass, a 50 km stretch of windy mountain pass that culminates at a café perched at the very top of the pass, where we stopped for a break before heading back down the mountain. Along the way back down, we came to a spot where we were had to wait for a tractor in front of us to get off the road, bumper to bumper, we were stopped with the windows down waiting to get going again, when a whole classroom of little kids that were aged no more than 5 years old, ran out from their class onto a balcony screaming and cheering at the magnificent sight they were witnessing, a glamorous variety of 50 lambos in one big row. At this stage I was already convinced I was experiencing something that would be possible most definitely only in Italy, when their teacher who must have been in her 60’s hobbled out on to the balcony with her walking stick to join the kids cheering,  yelling “amore amore” at us, while her hands gestured us with the same enthusiasm… it was simply amazing, and I think it will be hard to beat that experience ever again.

The rest of the weekend was just as awesome. On Friday arvo we visited a private car collection of a close friend of Ferrucios,  which now remains in his family’s care, followed by a nice dinner with my friend and his family in downtown Bologna, and a somewhat early night before Saturdays activities where we visited the factory in Saint Agata. A couple of us then decided to head back to the hotel for a rest before dinner, instead of spending the afternoon viewing a private art collection which isn’t really my cup of tea haha. To finish the event, we enjoyed a special dinner hosted by Fabio Lamborghini, Ferrucio’s nephew, and Velintino Ballbosi – the official test driver for Lamborghini automobili and the man that carries a very special license plate (in true Italian style) which is rumoured to be completely ignored by the police, should it be the centre of any speeding related complaints or offences… a deal which is rumoured to have been made between Feruccio and the prime minister at the time, and has been kept ever since. How Italian is that……! Forza Italy and it’s beautiful car culture….!

As if that wasn’t a cool enough past week, to top things off, I am about to make my way down to Monaco where I’m going to be living for the summer J

GT4 Race Monza

Mixed feelings after the weekend. I feel like I underperformed, but at the same time I’m happy with how we worked together as a team, and considering everything was new for everyone, I feel it was pretty good none the less.

I struggled on Friday with the braking, but mostly the downshifts. This car has one serious downfall so far, which is the down shifting. Because the car is over spec’d & geometrized, mainly with the tyres and brakes, it gives it incredible braking performance, which is too good for the gearbox, which has trouble gearing down while the car is stopping so quickly…. Which creates one of the most annoying problems I’ve ever had to deal with in a race car, in that in all the heavy braking zones, you have problems getting down the gears fast enough, and mostly you end up already at the apex of the corner, in the wrong gear, and having to consciously look at the dash instead of the track during braking to see if you’re hooking the right gear yet…. Which is definitely not conducive to going fast, which sucks… big time. Besides that, we also had a very annoying problem with our radio, which only worked very poorly on the start finish straight, and this created problems during all the safety cars and re-starts, as well as communicating problems that came up during sessions etc…

Race 1 I started in 11th  and I had a mega start, and was up to  4th coming out of the first corner, but I was forced wide on the entry of turn two by a Camaro, and this slowed me down enough to become a sitting duck to then be passed by 4 other ktm’s… so was pretty annoying. From the I struggled for page for the rest of my stint, and to make matters worse when I handed the car over to Immanuel, we mucked up out pitstop and released him 3 seconds too early…. So we received a 30 second penalty after the race, but this still left us in p10! Which we were all pretty happy about having scored points in our first ever race together as a team & in GT4.

The second race was a little harder on us, and Immanuel was having a good battle for 12th place when he spun the car in Parabolica, and again the following lap in the lesmos. This meant he handed the car over to me with some nice clear running space to pump out some fast laps, which I did for 3 laps, before I caught up to an amateur driver who held me up for the remainder of the race without being able to pass. The annoying thing with our KTM is it’s by far the quickest car in the corners, and braking, but this means they kill our RPM with the balance of performance to make it even, but as a result we end up killing everyone in braking and turns, but getting pipped on the straights because we don’t have the same power due to the reduced revs, and so at a long track like Monza, it makes it extremely difficult for us to properly race / battle the other cars – so hopefully they fix this before the next race In 3 weeks time in the South of France at the infamous Pau Grand Prix! Until then…