Andrew Palmer has set his sights on a long term future with Bentley after switching Lamborghini for Bentley Team Absolute over the off-season.
Ahead of the Pirelli World Challenge curtain-raiser at COTA this weekend, the 21 year-old told Racing.GT that he hopes to “grow” with his new team, having previously been part of the Grasser Racing squad which took the Lamborghini Huracan’s first victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza last year.
Palmer, who finished fifth in PWC in 2014 driving a Global Motorsports Group Audi, will join the Hong Kong single-seater convert Adderly Fong in a two-car line-up.
“It made sense for my career, I was looking for a place to call home for the next years of my career and the chance to grow within a brand,” Palmer said. “I really enjoyed working with Lamborghini; they signed me as a junior driver and helped me get my start in the sportscar world where a lot of drivers struggle to be in a car, but I see some long term growth with Bentley and I found the chance to return to Pirelli World Challenge and be involved in a marque which is looking to appeal for a younger generation was very attractive.
“I really enjoyed getting to go and race in Europe because I grew up following everything in Europe and it was a little bittersweet because I think of the Lamborghini guys as a family; we’ll always be friends but now we’re also competitors!”
PWC differs from most other GT championships in that one driver is entered per car. Without the luxury of five other team-mates to confer with, getting setup right will be crucial, but Palmer is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really excited to get back to sprint racing with my own car where there can be no excuses, it’s 100% on you,” he said. “You can’t rely on your team-mates to pick up the loose ends, it will expose me more as a driver.”
With PWC adopting the same Balance of Performance as used by SRO, Palmer is optimistic that the Bentley will fare well at COTA, but is wary of the threat posed by factory-supported efforts from Porsche, Cadillac and McLaren.
“Going to the SRO BOP this year should be a good thing for all competitors,” he added. “I know from Blancpain last year that each weekend the Bentleys were always in a position where they could win, so hopefully it will be a similar story this year.
“It will be interesting to see how the Porsche BOP is. Growing up, I always looked up to Pat Long, he’s such a well-rounded driver so he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with, Johnny O’Connell will always be there, the Cadillacs are good and Johnny’s still got it. Those two guys will be up there, and Parente will be super-quick in the McLaren.
“We might not be as quick as the Ferrari down the straights, but I think COTA will be a good circuit for the Bentley, we’re good in the mid to high speed corners and we’re also good on the brakes, so I think it will be a good debut track for us and the team.”