Palmer’s GT learning curve continues at SilverstoneMay 21, 2015
Andrew Palmer’s European GT adventure resumes at The Home of British Motorsport this weekend when the Californian travels to historic Silverstone for round two of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series (May 23/24).
Having adeptly handled his championship debut on Lamborghini’s home turf of Monza last month, the youngest member of the Italian manufacturer’s GT3 Junior Driver roster and only American contesting the Pro Cup class will once again be ‘in at the deep end’ around the British Grand Prix venue.
But while this will be the GRT Grasser Racing Team ace’s first hands-on experience of one of the fastest and most demanding circuits on the calendar, it’s also a venue that conjures up fond childhood memories, albeit from afar.
“My dad and I used to get up early to watch all of the grands prix and Silverstone was one of the circuits that really captured my imagination,” revealed the 20-year-old Pomona College, CA, student. “America has its own motorsport culture, which I’m glad to be a part of, but I always wanted to race in Europe, too. And Silverstone is one of those places that helped shape my passion for motorsport.
“The run out of Luffield, down the old start/finish straight, through Copse and then on to Maggotts/Becketts/Chapel before hurtling down Hangar Straight must be quite incredible. It certainly always looked fun from the couch and didn’t disappoint on the simulator earlier this week. That experience was also really useful for appreciating the nuances of Silverstone. I’m as prepared as I can be.”
And what of the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3’s chances of repeating its strong showing at the opening round?
“The emphasis was always to make the car a good all-rounder,” said Palmer, who shares the entry with regular co-drivers Fabio Babini and Jeroen Mul. “The fact we had solid pace at Monza, with its long straights and emphasis on maintaining high mid-corner speeds through a consistent balance, bodes well. We also worked on a few things during a recent test at Paul Ricard, but ultimately I guess we won’t really know until first practice on Saturday.”
Aside from his post-Monza Lamborghini commitments, Palmer has also found time to complete his sixth college semester – he’s aiming to graduate half a year early this December – and rack up further test mileage aboard the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca-Chevrolet at Watkins Glen where the next TUSCC North American Endurance Cup event takes place on June 26-28.
“We’re obviously in a strong position championship-wise but The Glen is very different to both Daytona and Sebring, so testing there proved really useful,” continued the points’ leader, who won both opening rounds. “Racing GTs helps but there’s nothing like getting back aboard the PC car to keep your hand in during the three-month gap between NAEC rounds. Plus I really enjoy the circuit, which I’d describe as one of the more ‘ballsy’ we visit! There’s not much run-off to rely on and it rewards those willing to push the limit that little bit more. A driver really can make the difference there.”
While racing will undoubtedly be at the forefront of Palmer’s mind this weekend, he’ll also be thinking of IndyCar driver, fellow Spyder Active Athlete and friend James Hinchcliffe who suffered serious injuries during an Indianapolis 500 practice accident earlier this week.
“By all accounts James has been through a lot over the last few days but I was buoyed by news that surgery was a success and he’ll make a full recovery,” added Palmer. “Hopefully I can do him proud this weekend.”
Silverstone’s three-hour Blancpain Endurance Series round kicks off at 14:45 local time this Sunday. Live streaming and timing will be available online at http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live
Blancpain Endurance Series: Silverstone
Saturday 23 May
10:55 - 12:25: Free Practice
16:30 - 18:00: Pre-Qualifying
Sunday 24 May
09:00 - 10:00: Qualifying
14:45 - 17:45: Race