British driver Jon Lancaster has had a very difficult rise through the motorsport ranks, and none of it down to his talent. The 25-year-old Yorkshire man has proved many times that he is a race winner, but has struggled to complete full seasons of racing due to the lack of support on the financial side of the sport.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag, the Brit spoke about his 2013 season where Franz Hilmer gave him a ride in his Hilmer Motorsport team, and he paid back that support by winning twice – at his home track of Silverstone and at the Nurburgring. Lancaster was happy to have proved that he was one to watch again, having feared his career was all but over.
“2013 was clearly a good year, the opportunity Franz Hilmer gave me was incredible and I’m forever thankful for it,” said Lancaster. “Before this came around I had not driven anything for around 15 months so to have been able to arrive in Barcelona and get a podium and fastest lap was just a dream.
“What it did for me in reality was put me back on the map, since 2007/2008/9 where I was winning a lot and then the crash came, sponsorship dried up and I have only done small parts of championships since so I had to progress as people were starting to forget me.”
He admits that it was frustrating sitting on the side lines for so long, knowing he had a prove track record of being able to win races in pretty much every series he has raced in but no money to back that up.
“It is very frustrating indeed, but we know how the business works and it takes money, lots of it… so we have to be pretty creative in the deals we put together and I really appreciate the risk and trust people have put in me to bring them success. I have been very lucky to get this far with zero family money.
“Giving up is not an option. I believe too strongly in my ability and know I have the ability to win in F1. If I didn’t I wouldn’t waste my time or other peoples money. What a lot of people don’t see is the effort and hours of work that goes in just to pay for flights and expenses to live, my career isn’t just about me, I have lots of people who share my beliefs and believe in my ability and we are a team.
“I have developed more outside the car than in. The last 4 years have been pretty hellish for my family with losing my brother in 2010 and the aftermath of the housing crash as well, I have had to deal with many things that put racing into perspective and when you spend some time out of it you really get chance to reflect and this is what has made the difference, I know I have the talent and speed and feel to do the job, but you soon realize that its all the other things outside the car that make the real difference to results and progress.
“My confidence comes from what I know I can do and in the people I have around me mixed with my deep burning desire and will to win.”
Lancaster spoke about how he managed to get the MP Motorsport deal alongside long-time MP driver Daniel de Jong for Bahrain and possible longer, hopefully the whole season.
“Well a magician doesn’t reveal how he does his tricks… but we have been very lucky, they [MP Motorsport] wanted an experienced guy with Daniel and we were able to find a way to make it work for us both.
“Daniels a great guy, we get on very well together, he’s progressed a lot since last year and I’m sure he will carry on improving this season. I hope to share a podium together soon.”
Lancaster’s debut for MP Motorsport in Bahrain did not go to plan. After a strong pre-season, where he topped test days in both Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, the Brit qualified down in eleventh place after being caught out by the red flag and other competitors during qualifying, and then struggled with set-up for the races that saw him finish seventeenth in the Saturday feature race and fifteenth on Sunday in the sprint race.
“Over one lap the car is very good, qualifying didn’t show this due to being blocked a lot and missing the best of the tyres. We should have been in the top three comfortably. In the test we showed good race pace but the conditions were very different, much cooler. I had expressed my concerns about the set-up for race pace for a while but sadly we didn’t fix it.
“Last year I was one of the best at race pace and looking after them, sadly the characteristics of the car made this pretty impossible to do. Things will be very different in Barcelona.”
Finally, when asked about his hopes and ambitions for the 2014 GP2 season, Lancaster had one word to say.
The Checkered Flag will also like to congratulate Jon Lancaster on the news that he will be making his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 for the Swiss based Race Performance LMP2 team alongside Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux.
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