Since entering the Avon British GT Championship in 2008, Joe Osborne has proved himself as one of the young professional drivers to have on a team. At the tender age of just 24 he is already a European GT Champion and is incredibly focused on gaining more titles to add to his impressive C.V.
After a striking first full season in the GT3 class of the British GT series in 2012, for Trackspeed Porsche with Steve Tandy as his co-driver, they finished a very respectable seventh with two victories along the way, in what was an incredibly competitive championship.
In 2013 both Osborne and Tandy have moved to the new 888 Optimum team which posses the interesting BMW-Z4 and their respective co-drivers Lee Mowle and Daniel Brown. This move could prove to be a good one as the Z4 boasts some very good qualities however with recent results not going their way Osborne and the rest of the team need to identify his and the teams aims.
“We’ve had our goal posts moving all the time. Realistically at the start of the year the aim was just to be competitive at the sharp end.” Osborne states, “I think to be honest we should be aiming for a top 5 finish in the Championship by the end of the year with a couple of podiums hopefully along the way.”
Now into his fifth year of British GT racing Osborne fully understands that his previous entries in the championship can only serve to be a positive marker for helping his new team try and be competitive through the year. “Successive years in British GT3 have been an ideal preparation for this year’s championship. “The new 888 optimum driver recalls, “last year was a great year with a couple of wins along the way and good pace so it’s good to re-visit the same tracks with a similar car and similar speed, its definitely a good thing to keep coming back to British GT.”
With this season being more competitive than ever, it will be tougher for Osborne to make his mark in the championship. With well established and recognized racers such as Warren Hughes, Nick Tandy, Richard Westbrook, and reigning champion Michael Caine on the grid, audiences will be able to see Osborne’s talents proven to the limits. “The beauty of British GT3 is that because of the strength of the field there isn’t really a stand out pairing.” Osborne explains. “If David Ashburn can keep the energy up and do the whole championship then he and Tandy will be hard to fight against.”
It is obvious that the experience that Osborne gained from his Karting era has been influential in helping him strive to his maiden European GT4 championship as well as earning seats for some very good and established GT teams in both national and European competitions.
“Karting has massively prepared me for GT3.” Osborne suggests, “I think the easiest way to compare it to is if you didn’t go to primary school and you just jumped straight into middle school, you wouldn’t know the basics of what you had to do, so in motor racing that education when you’re younger, you can take it for granted in the race, but general race strategy you just pick up in karting.”
Starting racing from the age of eight, racing is all Osborne has ever done and by winning the European GT4 in 2009 it proved his credentials as a stable GT driver to have in anyone’s team. He will want to repeat that success, hopefully very soon, in British GT, but this time he’s prepared in dealing with the pressures of being competitive.
“I was quite young when I won the European GT4 in 2009, only about 20-21, so I think I have been very fortunate in the years after the championship win.” Osborne stated to Racing GT, “I have proved myself at this level now, so to hold my own and not be looking over my shoulder and not getting shafted out of my seat, it shows I have dealt with the pressure of British GT3.”
With many forms of motor-racing the demand physically and mentally for a driver can sometimes be overwhelming and it is normally the best drivers who can overcome this while displaying their talents on track. But it’s not just the driver that gives the competitive edge, the team and cars are fundamental to success.
“GT3 cars are not that physically demanding to drive these days, as the cars have power steering, ABS and are quite light to drive. The main thing is that you’ve actually got the physical strength to get the brake pedal down all the way.” Osborne comments on the psychological side of motor racing. “Mentally it’s quite easy going, I get on really well with my team-mate Lee, as we have probably got one of the best relationships on the grid so there’s no stress from that. We have a laugh and I jump in the car and just do the best job I can, which can’t be bad.”
To do the best job you can you want to make sure that everything is on your side. Whilst superstitions were part of Osborne’s regime in the past, the Englishman is more pragmatic these days.
“When I was younger I was ridiculously superstitious in karting.” He reminisces. “In a national race I won, I was driving home with my dad and just looked at my feet in the car which had a white sock on my left foot, and black sock on my right. Because I was in a rush I couldn’t find a pair to put on. I carried that on for years and years until I started to do poorly. I used to have loads of little superstitions.” Now Osborne’s focus for getting ready before a race event has changed. “I just make sure to drink a lot of water so that I am hydrated throughout practice, qualifying and the race.”
With many racing drivers it can be obvious to see whether someone is happy or not in the car that they are driving. Osborne’s pace and qualities on the track in the last couple of years has shown that he is happy with what he is doing, but he has told Racing GT that drivers should be wary about happiness within a team. “I think it’s dangerous to be happy one way or another, if you’re too happy you can become complacent and if your not happy enough you’re not concentrating on the job in hand. So at 24 being in British GT3 in a top team, with top drivers, making a living out of it, I think relatively at the moment, I couldn’t be any further up than I am.”
With the top drivers in the competition such as Tandy and Westbrook regularly racing in other competitions, it is incredibly important for Osborne that he improves his noticeable qualities as a driver, to keep up with the other top professionals. “Next year I want to be in British GT3, the more you’re in the car the quicker you are. So I need to be in the car more and more so I’m getting the best from my driving.”
Part of Osborne’s success is focus. He’s committed to what he wants to do because the second he is indecisive, the talent that he posses might not be fulfilled.
“Ultimately my ambition in car racing is just to make a career out of it, it’s quite nice to be able race for a factory team and be a factory driver, but you don’t know what’s round the corner. “Osborne commented. “In 2009 when I won the European GT4 championship things didn’t look too great for me, it wasn’t looking as though it would be a natural progression. I was just happy to move up into GT3. Now since I’ve been in GT3 it has just blossomed, so I don’t see moving up to the fastest pedigree is a necessary progression. I just want to keep racing more and more, so to make a living out of the sport makes every weekend a dream.”
It is rejuvenating to see Osborne’s old head on young shoulders. There is no doubt he has the skills coupled with the ambition and drive to potentially be a British GT champion. Maybe even more, if he feels it is right to look onto the world stage. With his focus on the present day and unwavering confidence, when the going gets tough, Osborne will be in there for the fight.