This is your third year at Le Mans, what was the goal when you set the team up?
I raced all my life and I grew up with my father racing at Mondello, you’ll see fairlane flyer on the back of the back of the car as a nod to him because that was his production saloon car so it’s a nod to him. I raced all my life, I was in Asian Formula 3 for Minardi Team Asia and I was an alright driver but certainly not a Brendan Hartley! So this is a business that I understand and it’s my passion so that’s why I set the team up. I thought that the teams that I drove for didn’t do a great job for the drivers or their sponsors, and I hoped that I could do both of those things.
What did you do before you set the team up?
I’m into green energy and bio-diesel is my main business and we’ve a couple of start ups for electric vehicles and that kind of thing. That’s my interest and in sportscars if we could do a deal with a manufacturer and could bring them to the table and bring it together.
The company is based in Dublin but how important was it for you to be an Irish team?
It was very important for my wife and three young children and honestly it was never on the agenda to move it away to somewhere else. I’m in Brackley a couple of days a week but it’s just as easy to be at my desk there for nine o’clock as it is to be at my Dublin desk, probably easier some days! I’ll never move away from Ireland because I love it at home and I love Dublin. We’re the only really Irish team around now that’s run from Dublin and when you walk into the garage you hear Irish accents. The guys that we have I’ve known all my life, I used to race with Alan McGarrity and his son carried my helmet when I was racing. We’ve got a family atmosphere in the team but we’re very serious about racing but we want to have a bit of a laugh and I think that’s what some of our competitors miss.
When you look at that way is the model that Eddie Jordan had in Formula 1 something that you’re looking to follow? Jordan was always seen as the fun team on the grid and for a lot of fans became their “second team.”
Yeah, some parts we’ve looked to be similar. We’re uniquely Irish like he was and we’ve struck a similar chord with people that he managed to. I don’t think that in Ireland that we’ll ever appreciate what he achieved. It was incredible that he was able to beat the likes of Ferrari.
When you look at Irish motorsport at the minute with yourself and the likes of the Laverty’s, Johnny Rea and a few others in motorbikes do you find it surprising that Ireland has that talent and success on the world scene.
I think that Eugene Laverty is an amazing rider and it’s incredible to see what he’s doing on that stage. I think that we all do in spite of the fact that we’re from Ireland. It’s certainly not an advantage and it doesn’t help to be from Ireland. I see it here though every year that there’s more and more Irish flags and that’s great and gives me satisfaction. For us it’s so far, so good but we’re not here just to take part, we’re here to win. I think that we can win the race, there’s a few teams that can but we’re in the shake up. We’ve got a good driver lineup, a good car, a good engine and a good team. From my point of view that’s all that I can do so I’m looking forward to the race. A friend of mine compared it to the Grand National where you have the best horse and jockey and still not win it. In 2012 we led for five hours and had a problem with the suspension breaking. Last year we had a problem on the first lap.
Last night Karun crashed heavily trying for pole, what damage was done?
Yeah, we tried for the pole and the crash came from going for the pole. We should have been more grown up and understood that sixth was perfect and parked the car but we’re a racing team and we want to race and win. Looking back we should have parked the car and said job well done with sixth but because we had the speed we wanted to show it. We damaged the rear left corner, sidepod, front crash box so there was a bit of damage done to the car but Karun doesn’t make a habit of that so we’ll let him off this once!
How do you rate Karun?
He’s a super driver and, with the exception of last night, he brings the car back in one piece, he’s professional and a team player. He’s the perfect guy to have in the car and he’s bloody quick. I think that people underestimate him but he’s won GP2 races and for us to attract a driver like that is great too.
Yeah, to be able to sign a driver with F1 experience and the technical knowledge that he brings to the table must be a big advantage for you?
He’s great at setting the car up and then when you look at the other drivers we have this year Nathanael Berthon was the Lotus young driver and with Rodolfo Gonzalez being the Marussia test driver I think that we’ve a really strong lineup. It’s Berthon’s and Gonzalez’s first Le Mans so that can be a risk but if they were the finished article they’d be racing for Porsche.
Looking at Brandon getting his chance with Porsche, you’re his manager but as his team owner was there a heavy heart to see him leave?
No, I’ve never seen a talent like his in my life. He’s truly special and for two years I told everyone that he was the best driver here and people laughed at me but they won’t laugh tomorrow. It would be a disgrace for him to still be doing LMP2, he should never have had to do it, because he’s an amazing driver.
When you look at what happened and being dropped by Red Bull and falling into your lap do you think that there’s any feelings of a missed opportunity in Formula 1 for him?
I think that there’s no doubt that he has that kind of talent but it didn’t work out for him and being his manager a lot of people speak to me about Formula 1 but, for me, he’s a bit older now and this suits him and his personality. He doesn’t want to be mobbed or be famous and he just wants to drive. He’s an old school racer and doesn’t want any bullshit, he just wants to drive. It’s a shame he didn’t get to show his stuff in Formula 1 but it’s their loss. He’s driven for Mercedes and Red Bull and is the Mercedes simulator driver so he helped develop the car for Nico and Lewis. You’d think that an F1 team would be screaming out for him but where he is today there’s probably only two or three teams that you’d leave this for. He’s so happy and proud to represent Porsche so I’m delighted for him.
When you look at your team what do you see for the future?
We’d like to tie up with a manufacturer, but every team wants that. I’d love to see us in LMP1 some day but I wouldn’t even try it until we had the right partners on board. We’ve got Hertz Car Sales on board but we’d need a few more before we could take on board that type of challenge. We’re ambitious though so that’s what we’d want to do.