Flick Haigh will return to the Optimum Motorsport fold this weekend 25-26 April), when she competes with the Wakefield-based squad in the opening round of the 2015 GT Cup Championship at Donington Park.
Following a superb drive in the 24H Series’ Mugello 12 Hours six weeks ago, Haigh returns to drive the Optimum-prepared Ginetta G55 GT4 that took her and co-drivers Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick to victory in Italy, in a very different environment altogether.
With her plans for 2015 not firmly rooted in any particular series, Haigh contacted Optimum’s Team Principal Shaun Goff to see if she could get further outings in the Ginetta, before a return to the 24H Series later in the year to try and secure overall honours.
“After Mugello Shaun and I met. I wasn’t doing a lot and didn’t have any confirmed racing; I was a bit worried I wouldn’t race until September. After a year of jumping between various cars last year, I knew I had to pick a car and stick to it. If you’re moving the goal posts all the time, you’re never going to progress,” reflected the talented racer from Marlow, Bucks.
“We worked on a bit of a loose plan, and I’ll be doing a few races in the Ginetta, but I don’t have it fixed in stone. It’s flexible and there are plenty of races we can do together, so right now it’s relaxed and we can do as much or as little as I want; that’s really helpful and gives me an opportunity to focus on each weekend, one at a time.”
This year the GT Cup championship again has a mix of event formats and the first event of the season will see Haigh compete in three races by herself, a 50-minute enduro on Saturday afternoon, followed by two 25-minute ‘sprint’ races on Sunday.
Commenting on the change of format, Haigh adds, “I’m used to endurance racing, where you have 24 hours to overcome a rival, and multiple factors to consider. This is going to be quite a challenge, and I’m going to have to be a bit more aggressive to get a result. Looking at the entry list it will be really hard; I’m up against some good opposition!”
Haigh is no stranger to the 1.97-mile Donington Park National circuit, having raced on the layout numerous times during her earlier years in Caterhams, and she is ready for the challenge ahead.
“I really like Donington. I got my first (Caterham) R300 podium here and it’s a circuit that suits my driving style,” reflects the 30-year-old. “It rewards a smooth and sympathetic driving style; you’ve got to keep momentum up through the corners, which come in quick succession. If you overdrive your car, you’ll go backwards, there are no two ways about it!”
Currently Optimum Motorsport has an incredible statistic to its name – it is top of the class championship in every series they are competing in. That’s no mean feat when you consider that the Ginetta stalwarts race both in the UK and on the World stage. As it stands, this includes, the 24H Series, British GT4 Championship, Ginetta GT5 Challenge and the MSA British Endurance Championship.
Speaking of the mantle she is inheriting, Haigh jokes, “For me it’s all about experience, but I do feel a bit of pressure from the boys to keep the run going! If I can get a class win that’d be great, but I’ve got a long term view on my driving this year and right now I need to get more track time in the G55.”
The weekend kicks off with free practice at 09:35 on Saturday morning (25th), followed by qualifying at 12:10 and the 50-minute pitstop race at 17:00 on Saturday evening. Haigh and Optimum will return to the track at 09:35 on Sunday morning (26th) for the second qualifying session, with the first sprint race at 12:40, followed by the second and final race of the weekend at 17:00.