The news is out – Joe Osborne and David Pattison will team up to drive a Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 in the 2017 British GT championship. On such an occasion, we thought it only right that Joe have a platform to express his thoughts, so in a Racing.GT exclusive, he explains how he came to be returning to the GT4 class for the first time in seven years and outlines his plans for a good finish at next month’s Gulf 12 Hour.
Like all the McLaren products I’ve driven, the 570S hugely impressive. I’m still amazed they are the only one using the carbon fibre tub across GT3 and GT4 (not counting that Xbow thing, because it looks weird). As a driver, this gives you so much more feedback and feel than a normal tubular chassis. The turbo power takes a while to get used to, but it’s soon forgotten about.
I last raced in GT4 in 2010 and the class has come on massively in that time. It’s gone from effectively a one-make series of very ropey Ginetta G50s when I started in 2008, to now a baby GT3 class. It’s obvious manufacturers now see GT4 as a class worth taking seriously and a way to make money, hence why they are all flocking to it. I predict that GT4 pace in 2017 will be what GT3 was 10 years ago.
Hopefully it will be like slipping on an old glove, and not a glove that I’ve left in my helmet after a hot and sweaty race that’s grown a new species of fungus. I’m lucky that I drive so many different cars week after week, so I don’t get attached to one in particular. It always feels a bit down on power to start with but that just gives me a bit more time to talk on the radio.
Lee Mowle is great, but I think he’s overdue a bit of time apart from me. David Pattison is someone I’ve worked with for the past four years, from his first time on track all the way up to his season in British GT3 with Tolman this year. I’m very lucky that David is like all the amateurs I work with currently, in regards to he’s a bloody lovely guy. I often see other drivers having to work with an Am that is a complete dick, and that for sure would put me off working with them.
David has come on massively from the start and he’s still improving, so my job will be to make sure I unlock all of his potential. His GT3 experience will be really useful for him in GT4 and I’m really looking forward to working with him and the Tolman guys. They all have a huge amount of passion for their work and I think that shows by how they present themselves in the paddock. Also, Chris Tolman is a human mountain, so strangely that naturally makes me behave better. Between the three parties, we all have the same line of attack for this project.
Before the British GT season starts, I’ve got two races with the Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 to get back in the groove, starting with the Gulf 12 Hours at Abu Dhabi. I’ll be back with my Creventic team-mates Flick Haigh and Ryan Ratcliffe – both are great fun and I couldn’t think of many I’d rather be out there with. Actually, I’m not so sure about Ryan…
We are lucky that the three of us get on more like friends then inmates. We all went on holiday together this year, which then at the track means we are all so relaxed with each other we bring out the best in each other.
We’ve had some really bad luck this year while in winning positions at the Mugello 12hr and Paul Ricard 24hr, so we’ll try to stop walking under ladders and create some good karma. In the week leading up to Abu Dhabi, I’ll let everyone I can out of junctions on the road, and that’s a pledge. Audi Sport have been great with all of the issues we’ve had and we think they’ve found solutions for them all. Optimum haven’t put a foot wrong the whole time, and that will stay the same for Abu Dhabi.
It’s a great event, kind of like a glamourous Dubai 24hr and there isn’t a lot I’d change about it. I think overall, the grid is smaller because the organisers don’t want the more shitbox cars out on track. Honestly, I think LMP3, GT3 and GT4 are the right cars to share the track together. Also budget-wise, a 12hr event isn’t 50% of the price of a 24hr – it’s more like 75%, so it’s a harder sell to drivers.
Compared to some of the circuits we go to in Britain, the facilities there are fantastic. You certainly don’t smell the pig farms like you do at Snetterton. The garages are all air-conditioned, whereas at Snetterton they have rising damp. You also have six mega hotels around the circuit compared to six B&Bs run by cousins that are married. But apart from that it’s hard to tell the difference.