2015 is a year Jonny Adam looks back on with great fondness. Not only did he win the British GT championship with Andrew Howard and make five appearances as part of Aston Martin’s GTE Pro line-up in the World Endurance Championship, but the 31-year-old Scot also saw off Alexander Sims to win the Sunoco Challenge and with it, a plumb ride in the no. 31 Action Express Chevrolet DP at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Here, Adam gives Racing.GT the lowdown on his preparations.
I first did the Rolex 24 two years ago with a customer Aston Martin team. I went there not knowing what the American style was to go racing and absolutely loved it! I wanted to do it again, but looking at the DP cars then, I thought it would be so cool to get an opportunity to drive one. I knew of the Sunoco Challenge and kept a close eye on it, especially on how well Phil Keen did last year, so last year when I was in the running for it, as much as I wanted to win the British championship with Andrew, I was quite selfish in that I wanted to win this as well! Eventually I was told I’d received the prize and it was mega – I got the go ahead from John Gaw to go and do it, I jumped in the car and loved every moment of it.
It is different and it is a step up, but like everything else in racing, you give yourself three or four laps and you actually want more. Initially pulling out of the pits I remember thinking ‘this has got a fair bit of poke’, and you begin to realise it even more when you go past the GT cars. I know from experience how nice and how quick they are, but you’re flying by them on the straights – I think it was around 193-194mph coming into turn one. Yet looking at the data and then experiencing it in the car, it doesn’t feel as though you’re doing that type of speed. The brakes are probably the highlight of the car, I’d say. There’s a good balance, with the power it’s got it’s not trying to kill you all of the time!
The team were very good at making me feel comfortable in the car. Even just the little things like doing pitstop practice which can make a big difference in a long race, because for me it’s so different sliding yourself into an Aston than it is into this DP car which is quite awkward to get in and out of, but we got slicker the more practice we did. All three team-mates, Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Simon Pagenaud were very welcoming and by the end of day three, we were all within a window of a few tenths of each other. I think it will be a big benefit come the race to have four drivers that you can stick in at any point and know everyone is around the same sort of pace.
Everybody knows the sister car is quick, they’ve got massive experience and a quick driver in Filipe Albuquerque who looked very good in the test, so we just have to knuckle down and see what we can do. It’s an open team so we can share data and setup information from all eight drivers, so it was nice to bounce ideas off each other. I didn’t want to give too much information on the car because I’m new to it, but the other three have driven it a lot more, especially Dane and Eric, so for me it was all about taking it all in and getting seat time as I could get in different situations – warm tyres with low fuel and cold tyres with full fuel at the end of the day. You can get in the car at 2 or 3 in the morning and ambient temperature can drop to around 6 degrees, so you have to be wary of these types of situations.
If I could race a car every day of the week I would, it’s so nice to get straight back in a seat so soon after the New Year and get going again. It’s such a well-structured team, it’s not like they’ve thrown me in a team that will be in the midfield with a car that’s going to fail or team-mates that are going to have moments, so it’s extra pressure because we’re going for the win really. Let’s hope for a good result!