Reigning Ginetta Challenge champion George Murrells is busy preparing ahead of his participation in the inaugural Ginetta GT Supercup series. The 23-year-old is set to compete in a brand new Ginetta G55 for Optimum Motorsport and TCF chatted with George to look ahead to his first season on the BTCC package.
Murrells, from Chelmsford, Essex , has had a relatively short racing career to date. After competing in a few Club 100 karting events, he moved into car racing in 2008, entering the 750MC Stock Hatch championship in a Citroen Saxo VTR. A strong saw season saw him pick up some podium finishes on his way to tenth in the standings as the highest place rookie.
The next season saw Murrells first association with Ginetta, as he explains: “In 2009 I moved on to the Ginetta Challenge, in a car run by my Dad and I. I had a couple of good finishes including a podium at Donington, though we were plagued by reliability and set up issues all year. Therefore I decided to go with Optimum for the 2010 season in the same championship.”
Switching to Optimum turned out to a great move as he took 12 pole positions, 6 wins, 11 podiums and 6 fastest laps on his way to winning the Challenge title: “Last year was brilliant. Optimum really knows how to set up a quick car and so a platform to go well was there from the start.
I think the speed and consistency I showed in qualifying played a major part in winning the championship. My starts could definitely have been better over the year though, I didn't lead too many races into the first corner despite qualifying pole 12 times. That's something I need to improve for this year. But that definitely made for more overtaking and exciting races.”
After winning the Ginetta Challenge, the Supercup seemed the next logical step for Murrells: “I think the ladder which Ginetta has created is a really good thing. While I didn't start my racing career early enough to be part of the Junior championship, I don't see why I can't follow the same process.
“Optimum have good experience with the G50 from last year, so the relationship and infrastructure to compete in the Supercup was already there, and the new G55 looks a brilliant prospect. I tested a BARC Renault over the winter and whilst that went really well, the focus has always been to progress onto the Supercup.”
Murrells' first preparations for his Supercup assault came when he tested a Ginetta G50 in December last year. He found the car to be a real step up from what he'd driven before: “The G50 was an awesome car to test. It's the first car I have driven on slicks, and certainly the most powerful car I have sat in. I was confident after a few laps though, and I think the times that I set at Donnington reflected that. The car itself isn't too difficult to drive; it's got more grip than anything I've previously raced. The challenge is more about squeezing the time out of it.”
With the team still awaiting delivery of its G55, Murrells has yet to have a chance to drive his new car: “I will hopefully drive the G55 for the first time at the Ginetta Media Day on the 17th March. Obviously that doesn't leave too much time before the start of the season on April 1, but we will hopefully be getting 3 or 4 dates including that one in to test.
“The G55 will be a step up in terms of grip and power again, but I think I adapt to new cars and tracks quite quickly, so that bodes well. Everyone is in the same boat with the timing of the delivery of the new car, it's a new car for everyone so no one will have a large testing advantage going into the first race.”
Despite it being his first season in the series, Murrells, who is backed by The Stewart Company and Slick Attire, is aiming high: “I want to do well. I'm not entering just to make up the numbers and I would like to carry on the winning feeling that we got used to last year.
Obviously it is a new car and a step up in terms of competition, with the likes of Carl Breeze and Tom Sharp who are experienced in the G50. But it is a new car for everyone and I think if we hit the ground running at Brands, then podiums and hopefully race wins are a real possibility. Come the end of the year I would definitely like to be in the running.”
With his confidence high, Murrells is now just waiting for the season to begin at Brands Hatch in April: “I can't wait for the season to start to be honest. It's frustrating over the Christmas period when you just want to be back racing again. The opportunity to be racing in the new car on the BTCC package, and to be live on ITV4 is massive, and it couldn't come soon enough.”
You can follow George's progress throughout the season at www.georgemurrells.com