THE INSIDE TRACK: OLI WEBB ON ENDURANCE RACING, THE SUMMER BREAK AND HUNGARY

OliSpa24H2 “I find it harder to get out of focus than try and relax!” 

Following a seven week break, the World Series by Renault took a trip to Hungary last weekend where varying weather conditions caused much drama in Budapest. Fortec Motorsports’ Oli Webb returned home with a points finish and optimism as the final races of the 2013 season loom closer. Before pounding the Hungarian tarmac, Oli remained busy with the Spa 24hr Blancpain and training. Oli took time out of his schedule to talk to ‘stoodonthepodium’ about his experience in enduring racing, his busy summer ‘break’ and his thoughts on the race weekend.

SPA 24 HOURSOliSpa24H3

It was an amazing week and I loved my first proper taste of international GT racing thanks to the guys at Fortec and AMG Mercedes.

The car was quick but it was a tough weekend after our gearbox broke and we spent hours in the pits. It would have been the end of our race if it wasn’t for a determined Fortec team! We finished 27th out of 72 starters but at least we finished!

It was tough physically doing back to back stints in the heat then in the middle of the night for hours with no sleep and a very tired mind and body. We had personal trainers and nutritionists on side waiting for us once out the car which was a real help.

Luckily Spa is fairly big but still it was tough to get used to four times the amount of cars that I usually race with in single seaters on the same size track. All the cars are very close in terms of speed but you can tell when it is a pro in the car and when it is an amateur.

Racing the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 car was very different to the Formula Renault 3.5 car. They are two different beasts and the SLS is very much a non down-force road based GT car that’s transformed to the highest specifications for amazing racing.

The World Series car is a thoroughbred F1 spec downforce racing machine second only to the speed of an F1 car. It is much more physical but just as rewarding as the SLS.

Working closely with my team mates was a great experience. I raced against Alex Brundle when I was in F3 but racing with former F1 driver and current Mercedes GT factory driver Karl Wendlinger was a great honour and we had a competitive team line up.

I would and I will take on the challenge of endurance racing again. Hopefully the Dubai and Abu Dhabi 24 hour races and Le Mans soon.

SUMMER ‘BREAK’?

OliSpa24HIt was great to be back in the WSR car after an amazing 7 weeks off which flew by with all the other GT racing, Mono work and training I had going on.I managed a two day break which was lovely but far too short.

Between Spa and Hungary I had ‘Chomdley Pageant of Power’, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Chris Evans CarFest North, CarFest South, London Motorshow, Top Gear work, Evo magazine driving, training, Red Bull Simulator work, BAC Mono track days and a few Charity functions…and two days holiday for a weekend in Spain!

During this time, I remained focused on the championship. I find it harder to get out of focus than try and relax!

BACK IN ACTION

OliHungaryThe track on the first day of qualifying was a lake! A boat would have been better but we made the most of it. We only had one lap within which to qualify due to all the red flags. Stoffel and I started side by side which was all we could manage.

The first race was bad because we had a brake issue which was locking the rear and I lost 15 seconds on the first 3 laps and then stayed there until the end of the race which was disappointing after our speed in practice. We spent a long Saturday night fixing it for the dry on Sunday.

Sunday was a lot better and more constant, which meant qualifying was close and I feel we did a good job starting on the back foot. I’m happy with how the race went and a points finish isn’t too bad on a track where you can’t overtake. We had a good pit stop and everything went to plan really.

It’s a non-stop track and normally very hot with high speed corners so its very physical and important to stay hydrated. The crowds where fantastic in Hungary, one of the busiest all year. True fans and very polite so the atmosphere was really good, I can’t wait to race there again. My relationship with Stoffel has remained a good, strong one and we stay in contact. Up next is more work!

I’ve had a 2 day test with EVO magazine for Track Day Car of the Year and with BAC Mono, then some testing with AMG and Mercedes, mind coach sessions, training sessions and a Red Bull simulator day. I hope to get a good podium result as soon as possible!

Oliver Webb is currently racing for Fortec Motorsports in the Formula Renault 3.5 series. 2013 marks his return to the series after time out competing in Indy Lights in America. Now back racing in Europe, Oli will be giving us an insight into his season throughout 2013 exclusively here on ‘stoodonthepodium’. He was talking to editor, Katie Grimmett.

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