Guernsey’s very own favourite son, Andy Priaulx, has seen lot of action in his career which is set to continue stateside, as the three-time WTCC Champion moves to the Tudor United SportsCar Championship from the DTM for 2014. The 40-year-old, who switched to Team RMG from RBM last season, has by no means found the going easy, especially with some changes making the going tougher along the way.
However, his final race weekend at Hockenheim saw his Crowne Plaza BMW M3 DTM qualify in the top three for the first and last time in his DTM adventure, before finishing in 6th in a rain-soaked affair that saw Team MTEK‘s Timo Glock secure his maiden win in the series.
Andy kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us here at theCheckeredFlag.co.uk, talking about looking forward to the new challenge in sportscars, as well as his adventure down under at Bathurst with Mattias Ekstrom. It first came to talking about the last couple of years in the DTM, which has seen Andy secure six top-ten finishes through his 20-race tenure, with both 6th place finishes coming in at the start and end of his run in the most internationally-recognized touring car series.
Following his trip to Bathurst, Andy’s decision to turn to right-foot braking gave him a good run at qualifying, in what was a season that had its highs at times, but the lows seemed to be more constant for both him and teammate Martin Tomczyk. Pushing the car at the limit “felt really great,” according to Priaulx, who said that there were times where he had that same feeling, but results are not always on the cars, especially when “the cars are very sensitive and everything needs to be 100% perfect.”
His race report on his official website just summed up how it can sometimes be in the DTM: “As often can be the case in this sport, luck does play a part.” This was especially the case as both Team RMG drivers scored the same amount of points this season. Andy went on to explain just how much needs to come together to be at the top: ” Yes, for sure we both have had a hard time this year, and as I said everything needs to be perfect to win in this series, Team, car, Testing everything has to come together. I have learnt many important lessons during this period, most of all to trust and believe in your own ability. This can sometimes be hard when your results are not forthcoming, but I think as a driver I have developed and I think Bathurst showed my potential is still high. Many great drivers have struggled in DTM and I do not blame myself for all of the results but I am very pleased that BMW Motorsport have really supported me as a works driver and have been very loyal to me and me to them.”
Andy’s trip to join the V8 Supercars event at Mount Panorama with Ekstrom showed that even though he is moving on to the USCC this season, his performance with his Swedish team mate shows that the fire is still there for the Guernseyman, with it having been a great outing for the pair, who even led at one point: “It’s always a fantastic experience to drive in this great race. We had a very good result and led for many laps, which I think did a lot of good for both of us in Australia! I found that we had a good chance from the team to build our performance and that’s very important. We had a little bit of testing and I think this showed in my performance. I was very happy with my performance here and I think it showed the world what I’m still capable of.”
One man that was clearly instrumental in putting this unique international pairing together was former V8SC Champion, Mark Skaife, who also gave Andy some tips for driving “The Mountain,” which Andy said should help him in future years to come: “The invitation was a combination of Skaify and Roland Dane and was a great privilege for me to again drive for 888. I have had a podium with them at Surfers and I feel always very comfortable in the car which is great. To work and be guided by Skaify was so beneficial.”
He remains positive, as he is now looking forward to the new adventure in sportscars that will soon get underway at the Daytona 24 Hours this month, as the ROAR before the 24 is currently happening as we speak. Upon being asked about the new Z4 GTE that Team RLL will be using this series, he is looking forward “to seeing what’s possible” with the new car, which has been a car on the rise since its introduction.
“It’s very different to compare with the 2011 BMW M3, as that car was legendary. The car is really great, has good downforce and a great chassis,” said Priaulx.”We do miss the fact that the top speed is slightly lacking, but it makes up for in the cornering and braking. The Z4 is a very different animal, as you’re much more over the back wheels, needing to drive the car slightly differently.”
One final question we had to ask Andy was about whether he may consider a return to a former stomping ground in the form of the WTCC, and this is all he had to say on the matter: “Absolutely, I am interested to see how WTCC progresses over the coming years and Australia too. We will see what BMW also does in the future. But for now, it’s sports cars!”
TCF would like to wish Andy all the best in his new adventure in the USA with Team RLL, and thank him for his efforts in the DTM over the past two years. Stay tuned for our coverage of the United SportsCar Championship here on TCF, as a new sportscar series looks to make its mark across the pond.