Regular visitors to theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will most likely recognise the name Pepe Massot, but for those of you who don’t the young Spaniard has been working his way up the motorsport ladder and first raced in the UK in 2012 in the Ginetta Junior Championship. He instantly made an impact in the series finishing fourth in the series while picking up overall wins at Snetterton and Silverstone; he also took the Rookie Championship with eleven wins out of twenty races.
For 2013 he made the step up to the Ginetta GT Supercup where he became the youngest driver on the grid at just 17. A win at the opening round in wet conditions at Brands Hatch would prove that he hit the ground running in the step up from the Junior series also becoming Ginetta’s youngest victor in the series. Another win at the Donington Park round would put him in the running for the championship; Unfortunately there were forces at work against him as he switched teams and suffered technical problems, Massot would round the year out fifth in the championship as he collected seven other podium finishes along the way.
2014 started positively saw a win and a second placed finish at the second round, unfortunately there would be further heartache with car reliability which would ultimately see him make the move from Ginetta’s and switch to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB series, remaining on the TOCA package.
While Massot had missed four race weekends of the series due to starting the season in Ginetta’s, he still finished fifth in the overall championship, collecting three podiums from six race weekends. At the end of the season he made his Porsche Supercup debut driving for MOMO-Megatron at the Circuit of the Americas. Unfortunately for Massot his weekend was ended early when a failure on a competitors car saw the pair collide, forcing both to retire. This is where we pick up his story:
“First of all I would like to thank you and all The Checkered Flag team for the continuous support I have received since I started.” says Massot as we asked him about the switch from the TOCA package to Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.
“The plan was to compete in the Carrera Cup GB in 2015 until I started to exchange emails with Team 75 Bernhard. They showed great interest and to race in such series like Carrera Cup Germany with the best GT drivers in the world was very tempting. The Team sponsors also helped a lot to take the decision, as they are giving us a lot of support this year.”
When asked about the differences to the TOCA package that he has been used to for the past few years he replies: “In terms of racing, it feels the same. There is a top championship on the same weekend, in the UK was BTCC and in Germany is DTM. Also very competitive support series which keep you entertained while waiting between your races. A lot of passionate people on the weekends, which feels kind of the same as well as in the UK, but being different cultures you notice people is a little different and has a different approach.
For 2015 Massot joined Porsche factory driver Timo Bernhard‘s squad – Team75 Bernhard alongside 2013 Porsche Supercup champion and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nicki Thiim.
“Nicki is one of the best GT drivers there is. He’s got multiple years of experience in Porsche as he’s been racing these machines for 6 or 7 years, most of them in both Germany and Supercup championships, which means he is quick straight out the box.
“It’s worth pointing out that we have had some very bad luck this year as a Team, Nicki and me have been in front few times. I have had nearly no testing so pretty much every track was new. It’s tough to learn a track before qualifying with just one session on Friday afternoon. I have been dragging the back problems from the first race, which hasn’t helped at all with my performances.
Along with the expertise of Thiim, Massot has also been able to benefit from advice from the team boss.
“Timo is both one of the best and experienced drivers there is out there when we talk about GT’s. He always comes to the racing weekends he hasn’t got commitments with his personal career and always brings its bit to help us, and we really appreciate it.”
2015 hasn’t been kind to Massot so far: “We have been as a package, under performing. The Team has worked incredibly hard all year and they have done an amazing job but luck has not turn our way. But it has just been circumstantial, most of the problems were out of our control, that’s what makes it better to digest.
“It’s very weird for me, I am having extra help outside of the track to help me stabilize my thoughts and to be mentally focussed on our targets. But there is one thing I have for sure, which is when I come back recovered from my injuries, more than a thousand things will change, and I will start taking the place I am always at.”
The young Spaniard is currently on the sidelines having been forced to rest due to a broken spinal disc but there have been some highlights this season.
“Norisring was a very special weekend for me. It was one of the worst weekends in terms of fitness and health as I had my back very sore constantly. A street circuit no one can test at if it’s not a race weekend, and even my Rookie rivals for the Championship knew the track from Formula 3 Euroseries from past years, as they raced there.
“For me Friday was the very first contact with the track and it was dry on the Free Practice session. It was a great session from where I could extract some great information to take on for Saturday’s qualifying. We woke up on Saturday with very wet conditions which meant that I was starting again from zero, as the only experience I had was on dry conditions, and the track is not particularly safe let’s say, so the margin to try and push and be able to make errors wasn’t there.
“I had to learn again lines, braking points, etc. I managed to qualify in P12 which for me was rewarding under those circumstances, with Ben Barker and Sven Müller just by my side on the starting grid, drivers with much more experience than me, that have been winning races and on the podium.
“In the races I managed some decent points but I just didn’t have the concentration I needed as I even couldn’t press the brake pedal as hard as I wanted to due to my back problems.”
Massot is clearly focused on making a swift return to track, asked what his goals are for the future he replied: “My main goal and unique wish is my comeback to the circuits. That’s all I can think about right now, to show what I have shown in every championship I have raced at, and that’s what will make the opportunities come for the future, always talking about building on a GT career.”
As a final note Massot adds: “I would like to take the chance to thank Team 75 Bernhard, specially to Timo, Rüdiger & Scholli, Sascha and my group of mechanics for all the help and support throughout. Also my family and fans for all the emails and messages of support I have received through my page.”