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December 09, 2018

Ten years of GT3: Phil Keen, FIA GT3 Europe, 2006

Ten years of GT3: Phil Keen, FIA GT3 Europe, 2006
Photo Credit To Gary Parravani/ Xynamic

In 2006, a 21-year-old Phil Keen teamed up with 19-year-old Sean Edwards at Tech 9 Motorsport for the final two rounds of the FIA GT3 European Championship. From four races, the pair scored three wins to deliver Edwards the crown and form a firm friendship that would last until Edwards’ tragic death while coaching in 2013. Keen takes up the story.

I joined the team for the last two rounds of the year because Sean needed another co-driver. Before that, we’d had a bit of history at Brands – I ended up putting him into the pitwall through no fault of my own, the person in the lead hit the brakes, they concertinaed and I hit the back of him, so I can imagine I wasn’t very popular!

Phil Hindley was running the team at the time and when Sean asked Phil ‘who shall we have in the car?’ and Phil said ‘I think you should put Phil Keen in the car’, Sean just said ‘I’ll leave it up to you.’ That was really the start of our driving relationship and friendship – he was one of my best mates until unfortunately he was killed in Australia. As a standout memory, to win those three out of four races in that car will take some beating, that just doesn’t happen nowadays.

I just remember trying to keep everyone else behind us because although the Porsche GT3 Cup car at the time was meant to be the benchmark for GT3, in some respects it was not the fastest. We were up against the Aston which had much more aero and better brakes, so it hard work.

Back in the day, a GT3 car was more or less a road car; they’ve moved on leaps and bounds since then, it’s like the difference between night and day. I don’t know what the time difference is worth around the track, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was five or six seconds.

We were actually very, very fortunate at Dijon where Phil Hindley made an excellent pit call, that made up a lot of time and meant we were able to get into the lead. And then in Mugello we were lucky because it poured down all weekend and the Porsche is famously good in the wet, so it was plain sailing to be honest.

I had a lot of fun with Sean and we worked very well together, although nowadays that pairing would never be allowed because of the gradings. Sean hated understeer, I do remember that, so if the car understeered we knew about it, but he was a great guy to work with and a very talented driver who I’m sure would have gone a long way.

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About The Author

James Newbold

James Newbold is Racing.GT's Editor. He graduated from a politics degree at the University of East Anglia in 2015, which should help him navigate through the political minefield that is GT racing. He likes Marmite on toast and Oreo cookies. Speaks Spanish, but only when no one is looking.