Carl Shield has told TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk that he is determined to build on a strong first half to his debut Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup campaign and secure a podium breakthrough before seasons end.
Shield moved into the Supercup for his third season in car-racing, with two campaigns in the 750 Motor Club M3 Cup seeing him win the Novice Driver of the Year award in 2016 before winning four races on his way to second overall last year.
The switch to the 355bhp Ginetta G55 GT4 and the ultra-competitive Supercup would present a big change for the 38 year old and the North East-based AK Motorsport squad, and its proven to be a challenge they have relished.
“Coming from the M3 Cup, the change to slicks and aero has been immense for me, just getting my head round the corner entry speed and grip level is taking a bit of time. Luckily the Ginetta is such a great car and I found decent pace from the first race,” said Shield.
“The Supercup is a fantastic series with the cars being so equal, which means it really is down to the team with set up and ultimately the driver. I haven’t been at all surprised with the pace of the other guys, we knew the level of competition we’d face and how tough this year would be.”
Shield would belie his lack of experience though and make an immediate impact with a pair of top five finishes on his debut at Brands Hatch, which started a run that has seen him finish every race so far in the top ten – a feat only matched by the two title contenders.
Six of those finishes have been within the top six, something the former Speedway rider is pleased with considering the steep learning curve he faced and the fact that no testing opportunities between meetings has left him and the team to do all their car development on the race weekends.
He explained: “We do struggle as I only drive the car on race weekends and we don’t have any data for any of the circuits, but luckily AK Motorsport are doing a great job and by the end of a weekend we’re up there posting quick times. I could probably do with four races a weekend!
“We decided at the start of the year that the Pro class is where I needed to be and looking at the results this has been a good move. I’m currently fourth in the standings, only twelve points off third, which is unbelievable for me.
“I realise consistency has played a massive part for me to be in that position, but a title can’t be won if you’re not finishing races. I am a little disappointed that I haven’t stood on the podium yet, but I really do think that I will be on there by the end of the year.”
Getting that podium breakthrough is Shield’s number one target heading into the remaining four meetings, though the County Durham racer is also focused on getting as much experience and knowledge under his belt as possible before a big push in 2019.
“My main goal is to get some trophies. Third overall in the championship is within reach so I will be pushing for that, but my aim at the start of the year was to hit top six regularly and finish the championship in the top six too which I am well on course to do,” Shield enthused.
“This is a data and experience gaining year so 2019 should be a good year. I will not be truly happy until I can put the car on the front row in qualifying and win races. We’re not quite there yet but I can guarantee I am trying!”