Serbian racer Neb Bursac is weighing up his options as he plans a return to full time racing in 2012. The Checkered Flag caught up with the former single-seater racer, who made a guest appearance in the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK this season, to see what he's been up to in his time off and find out the latest on his plans for next season.
Bursac made a real impact during his early years of circuit racing, taking six wins on his way to the 2005 Star of Silverstone championship title and impressing in the 2006 Formula Renault Winter Series, but he had to suspend his career prior to the 2007 season when he run out of budget, leaving him to sit frustrated on the sidelines for the past five seasons.
Bursac reflected: “It is very frustrating especially when I know I can be as fast as anyone out there and even faster, only if I had the same opportunity like everyone else to do proper testing and a full season of racing, at least.
“Although I haven't been actually racing in the past few years due to lack of sponsorship, which is out of my control, I have always given maximum in terms of the things I can control such as my own preparation when it comes to motorsport and racing, either watching and attending races or just training and keeping fit all the time and being ready for any opportunities whether testing or racing related.
“I simply love and breathe racing, and I guess with all my physical and mental preparation all that also allows me to quickly adapt to anything I race and do well even though I am missing on the testing and full season's racing.”
British fans will have last seen Bursac on track when he made a one-off appearance in the Clio Cup earlier this season at Snetterton. On his debut around the new 300 circuit, Bursac put in an impressive showing and took two solid top ten finishes on his front-wheel drive race debut in the competitive one-make series.
Commenting on the Clio opportunity, Bursac said: “I did an official test day back in May at Snetterton and I showed a lot of potential and speed even though I had never really driven a front wheel drive (race) car before and especially the Clio Cup car.
“Another track day at Silverstone followed, where this time the 2009 Clio Cup Champion, Phil Glew, showed me the way and different techniques of how to drive this car really fast that gave me so much more confidence in the car and also to make the decision to enter this race meeting straight away.
“All this coaching and help from Phil, as well as my speed, helped me open up some more doors among other top teams, and what better place to land a drive than with a team who has won 3 Championships in the past three years, and are currently leading the Championship, Team Pyro.
“The experience was great, and I learnt a lot over the weekend. I did not put any pressure on myself at all regarding the results. However, I still had to be a bit more cautious than some other regular and more experienced drivers in terms of trying out a few different bits and pieces i.e. different lines or set ups, as I couldn't afford to make a mistake and lose valuable track time which I particularly needed considering my absence from racing and especially a lack of mileage in the car.
“In the end I finished 7th and 8th on my debut at the circuit and the car I had never raced before, and I managed to stay calm and consistent all the way through this very competitive race weekend.”
Bursac's previous racing experience was in single seaters, both in Formula Ford and Formula Renault, meaning the move into Clio's saw a real change in discipline for the 26 year old. When asked if this signified a chance in career direction for Bursac, he explained: “It is very hard to choose one series or one career direction one really wants to do unless they are very fortunate to have a proper backing and sponsorship to do that. So since this is missing for me at the moment, I am trying out some different categories such as Clios, and to be honest I am really enjoying it and am glad I got this opportunity too. However, I wouldn't exclude single seater options if they became available in the future.”
After dipping his toe back into the racing pool, Bursac is now desperate to raise the budget for a full campaign in 2012, with his sights on the Clio Cup. He concluded: “I definitely want to race in 2012 and I hope to find sponsors and develop a long relationship with them which is needed in order to remain in this sport and be at the top. To start off next year with Clio Cup, the car I have already driven and in which I proved once again that even after so many years I can come back and do well, would be perfect.”