It’s been quite a week in the life of Beechdean AMR youngster Ross Gunn. The 18-year old from High Wycombe belied his lack of experience with an error-free run to victory in torrential conditions at the Britcar 24 Hours of Silverstone and promptly followed it up with a dominant performance at Rockingham to become, along with 16-year-old Jamie Chadwick, the youngest ever winners in British GT history. Racing.GT met up with Gunn, an Aston Martin Evolution Academy scholar, before qualifying.
Ross Gunn knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. Twice a winner during a part-season in BRDC Formula 4 in 2013, Gunn was forced to sit out the entirety of last season due to a lack of budget, making him all the more determined to maximise his opportunity at Andrew Howard’s Beechdean outfit, which swept to the GT4 class title last season with Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie.
“Still two months on from signing the contact it feels amazing to be doing British GT with an Aston Martin,” he says. “Just being able to wake up in the morning and know I’m racing is amazing. I’m very lucky to be here and I have a smile on my face every day.”
With a formidable record in karts behind him, Gunn’s speed has never been in doubt; witness his pole lap in qualifying at Rockingham, a full second quicker than his ever-improving team-mate Chadwick and almost four tenths up on Giddings, now driving the JWB Bird GT4 Aston Martin. But as the old cliché goes, GT racing is about far more than just one-lap pace. Over the course of a two-hour race, let alone a 24-hour race, consistency is king; developing the ability to relay what the car is doing and find a consistent balance are all invaluable skills in a GT driver’s armoury.
Gunn knows has had a lot to learn, but couldn’t have dreamt of a much better start than the surprise overall triumph at Silverstone. As the faster cars around them faltered – including the LNT-ran Ginetta LMP3 with former F4 sparring partner Charlie Robertson and Sir Chris Hoy at the wheel – the Aston ran faultlessly throughout the night, closing out the win by an eventual five clear laps.
Needless to say, it was the longest race he has been involved in.
“It was really tough; you have to make sure you sleep at the right times, drink, eat as well, but the reason I think it went so well was because of who we’ve got behind us,” he said. “The Aston Martin GT4 Vantage is a very reliable car, we had no drastic problems throughout the race. The Dunlop tyre held up very well and the team were absolutely fantastic, they stayed up all the way through the race; all the pitstops were very smooth, even during the night when it started to rain and things got quite hard. Really, I’m just a very small cog in the machine.
“It was a bit of a surprise to be honest to take the overall honours, but Class 3 probably less so because the car was very quick. It was just a fantastic experience.”
The extra seat time, spent alongside Beechdean owner Andrew Howard and Aston Martin factory driver Jonny Adam could prove vital come the end of the season in his and Chadwick’s assault on the GT4 class title, with the lure of a professional works contract for the winner of the Evolution Academy also up for grabs.
Gunn admits that “it would mean more than anything to win it”, but competition is fierce, with Chadwick, Giddings and GT3 racers Dan Lloyd, Matt Bell and Jody Fannin also among the ten young drivers being assessed over the course of the year on their fitness and nutrition, media engagement and technical feedback to find the next Darren Turner or Richie Stanaway.
“I know I must keep my feet on the ground at all times, as the drivers on the Academy are all very talented and are working very hard,” he adds. “It’s certainly an opportunity I would work 24/7 for and do everything in my power to repay Aston Martin with on and off track performance.”
At least if early impressions are anything to go by, the name Ross Gunn could well be one to watch out for in the coming years.