Q&A with Jody Fannin on his 2011 season

After a competitive year in only his second season in car racing, young Ginetta racer JODY FANNIN talks about his 2011 in which he finished third in the G50 class of this year’s Ginetta GT Supercup series, and his goal of racing in the Le Mans 24 hours…

Q) How would you sum up your year?

JF: “I would sum up my year as successful when everything is taken into consideration!

There were a few ups and downs during the year, but that’s motor racing. We had some issues with the car, but when it was working well I was very fast. For example, at Knockhill I won from 4th on the grid then led the race overall before getting a puncture left by some gravel on the track at a restart.

Even when things weren’t going perfectly, I was still gaining experience which will make me stronger for next year. It was only my second year of racing, and I think I can consider the year a success, although winning the championship was obviously the aim.”

Q) What were your expectations at the start of the year?

JF: “It was to win the championship, I started off well by winning the opening round, and led the championship at various times during the year. Unfortunately there were points where things didn’t go my way, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

It was a very competitive championship though, and finishing 3rd wasn’t a complete disaster, but still a bit of a disappointment.”

Q) Do you feel you have achieved what you hoped for?

JF: “I didn’t win the championship but I learnt a huge amount and proved that I can compete at this level. I showed that I was very consistent, only having one DNF in the final race of the year when someone stalled in front of me – an unavoidable incident. I also  won races, got fastest laps and a pole, so from that point of view I showed what I can do.

I learnt every time I went out in the car, which is the main thing, and I am looking ahead to next year.”

Q) What would you say has been the highlight of your season?

JF: “The highlight of my season was definitely the win at Knockhill. I knew that I would be able to compete for the win on the Sunday morning race as I’d been very quick in testing. It couldn’t have gone any better! I started fourth and managed to pick off the cars in front one by one with clean moves at a track where passing isn’t easy, it was fantastic.

Also on the same day, leading overall against the faster G55s for six laps was brilliant, before a safety car intervened. It was all on my birthday, which made it even better!”

Q) What is the G50 like to drive  and which racetrack is your favourite?

JF: “The Ginetta G50 is a fantastic car to drive; really enjoyable and predictable, which is always good, although it does have a tendency to understeer on old tyres which can be frustrating! It was a lot different to the Ginetta Junior I drove the year before, which was a great car to learn in.

The G50 has 3 times the power and slick tyres, which meant it had much more grip (it had more grip in the wet than the Junior had in the dry!). I feel I managed to learn all the new aspects quickly and really got on well with the car.”

Q) What are your plans for next year?

JF: “My favourite race track is the Brands Hatch GP layout – it is where I managed to get my first race win in cars in only my third race meeting, last year in the Ginetta Juniors. The section out the back is absolutely brilliant to drive, very fast and you need to be brave to get a fast laptime!

It is such a thrill to drive and when you get a lap right, it’s a great feeling.”

Q) Is the possibility of a BTCC prize drive something that interests you?

JF: “I am not sure of my plans for next year yet, but there are a few options on the table, and hopefully I will be able to firm up what I’m racing quite soon. Ginetta G55s is obviously an option, but I am also looking at longer distance racing.”

“Of course it is a fantastic prize to be able to get and I would grab it with both hands if I got the opportunity. My ideal long term career plan is to make a career out of being a professional racing driver, doing endurance races, and my overall ambition is to race at and win outright the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

Q) How tough is it in the world of racing both on and off the track and how much support have you had?

JF: “The world of racing is extremely tough both on and off the track. You have to be totally committed to being a racing driver to succeed. Finding the finance to go racing is probably the biggest challenge, especially in the current economic climate.

There’s more to the sport than just driving the car; you have to look after sponsors’ needs and talk to the media etc. Away from the track you need to make sure you keep in good fitness to be able to perform at your best when at the racetrack. For example, I exercise 6 days out of 7.

I have always had the support of my family and friends who realise this is my career path, which is really important, and helps me when I’m racing knowing there are people to support me. And of course, I am still studying for my A-Levels. On track you’re surrounded by people with an incredible desire to win, so it’s mentally tough, and there’s very little margin for error.”

Q) What is your overall goal in motor racing?

JF: “My overall goal is to make a career out of being a professional racing driver, and ultimately winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”


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