To be asked to write a column in Racing.GT when your current championship is the rather insignificant Norwegian GT came as a surprise, but I follow both British and Blancpain GT closely and I do have ambitions to step up so hopefully I will show up at a track near you in the close future.
I am a 33 year old Norwegian suffering from bit of an early midlife crisis taking up my dwelling race car dream literally on my 30th birthday. If you choose to follow me you will soon realize that my addiction starts with Nissan and ends with GT-R, to the extent that I drive the road version for everyday transportation and have a self built track prepared GT-R for racing. I love the GT-R! Period!
I tracked my road car in 2012, got the bug and prepared the race car for the 2013 season. May 2013 was my first ever race. It was mind blowing.
I race in Norwegian GT and something called Gatebil Extreme Series. Gatebil is a huge Norwegian car festival event held on 4 weekends during summer, gathering more than 80 000 people. It is quite different from GT racing, but it is a fun circus to be a part of.
2013 was a bit of a learning year for me and I ended up in 8th place in the championship. The first season was always to be kind of one step at a time, with some very good performances and some strategic miscalculations. For 2014 I have set my eyes on the title and now that is what everything is about. Lap times, podiums, points.
I have to admit the extra power gave me a minor headache on Friday practice!
The first round of Norwegian GT was last weekend at Vaalerbanen Race Track. Free practice on Friday, qually and first race on Saturday, two races on Sunday. We do sprint races over here. Supersprint. Having done quite a lot of changes to the car over the winter I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Loosing 100kg and adding almost 200hp does something to the performance – and drivability. The facts are 1620kg/700hhp/855hnm. Car is still 4WD with standard gearbox/padleshift/differentials.
I have to admit the extra power gave me a minor headache on Friday practice. My little monster was not so sweet and cute and forgiving to drive anymore, flat out she really kicks ass! But after some stints I got used to the new way of driving – and by the end of the day my confidence was up.
Qualification Saturday morning came with perfect conditions and in the end I really got some flying laps in. Seeing the times on my Motec I knew I had already beaten my previous personal best with about 1,5sec, but it was not until I got off track and my engineer signed me P1 I realized just how fast it was. Getting pole position in the first race of the year was quite a feeling!
The first race sadly started with a huge crash in T1, 6 cars involved. My car took some beating, and the front splitter ended up stuck underneath the car. Luckily the race was red flagged, and back in pit lane I could lift the car and get the splitter out. I have to admit getting back on track with a car that had been hit and not thoroughly checked put me a bit off line but my team managed to pep me into race mode again and I was ready when the race restarted. Keeping out of trouble this time I brought the car home to first place. My first ever podium, climbing all the way to the top, I had actually some mixed feelings about it. Knowing the extent of damage to some of the cars including my own (front fenders both sides, front bumper, front splitter, wheel, door, rear quarter and intercooler), but at the same time being able to bring home the podium and collect points. I learned a lot from the first race of the season.
The other two races were less dramatic. A second place and a third place (the latter a wet event) gave me a chance to try out all the steps on the podium in one weekend – no surprise I like the top the best! Going home as the overall leader of the Norwegian GT Championship was surreal, but nice, and it gives me a very good basis for the rest of the season! It will take quite some work to stay in this position, but that is what we are aiming for!
After some busy days in front of the race, a successful weekend and a long drive home (I went to bed at 2.30AM) one of the things I appreciate the most is sharing the ups and downs with the team. I am lucky to have super people in Team AnnA, some of them are friends from way back and some more recent, and we all share the passion. Without these guys supporting and helping me I would have been lost.
So, I am back home, next race is in two weeks, same track but this time it’s Gatebil. What to do in the meantime? Well, I never say no to some extra time in a GT-R so when JRM asked me to join them for a test day in The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 on Silverstone I booked my tickets within minutes. I have been in the Nismo GT3 once before, at Portimao circuit in January, and when you have been in that car on a fast circuit there is no turning back! It is truly amazing. Since Portimao I have kept in touch with JRM and they are trying to help me towards my goals. They’re a great team who all make me feel very welcome.
I sure hope JRM won’t watch the onboards cause then they will never let me drive the car again. It was big fun!
Tuesday morning I was ready for testing, and I arrived at Silverstone with quite some humility. A great track, at which I had obviously never been before, and I was going to drive the full GP circuit in the GT3. Perhaps it was over my league right now, to be honest. Unfortunately the weather was not in a good mood, and rain turned into heavy rain as I was going out on track. Learning a new track in the wet like that was difficult, and during my stints I think I spun in more or less every corner of the circuit. I sure hope JRM won’t watch the onboards cause then they will never let me drive the car again. It was big fun!
In the last stint I was beginning to get a hang of it, learning the track and the limits of the car. Lap times decreasing and confidence growing. I just wanted more and more laps, but like always all good things come to an end. I hope the future will bring more time in the Nismo GT3, the sooner the better. Like for most of us I guess, it is a financial issue.
As for the rest, there are no intriguing secrets. I am born and raised in Melhus, Norway. I work every day on the family farm where I breed beef cattle (charolais) and grow corn. I am also working as a veterinarian at the local small animal hospital and I have a small business selling equipment for cattle breeding. Besides racing there is not a lot of time off, but I try to squeeze in some cycling, cooking and dancing whenever possible.
If you would like to follow me, and I’ll be honoured if you do, please find me on Twitter @AnnaRathe, Facebook TeamAnnaGTR and Instagram #TeamAnnaGTR.
See you around!