The final round of the Australian GT Championship – The Sandown GT Classic proved to be a good time to catch up with Championship contender, Allan Simonsen about the race, the year and his plans for the future.
How have you rated this weekend so far for you and your team?
This weekend has been pretty good for us. We located some problems in the car which have slowed us down a fair bit in the previous rounds. When the car came from Europe, it wasn’t a new car and there were some faults in it which has been very tricky to find. Eventually we have found them but it is a long way down the track and it is the last round and I have lost a lot of the big lead I had in the Championship. We are still on for the Championship but we are on the back foot points wise but we will give it our best shot.
How do you rate your new car (Ferrari 430) compared to the car you raced earlier this year (Ferrari 360) in the Australian GT?
They are very similar in handling but the 430 should have more power than the 360 and now that the 430 is running properly, that is clear that the 430 has that. Handling wise, the cars are very similar – very similar in the way they are.
You had a great year in the Le Mans Series, was it disappointing not to do the whole year with Virgo (as Simonsen had a contract to race in endurance rounds of the V8 Supercar Championship which conflicted with Silverstone)?
Yeah it was disappointing but I had a long contract with Team Vodafone and it was impossible for me to get out of doing Sandown. Now looking back at it, everyone remembers what everyone did at Bathurst (where Simonsen finished 5th) which was a good run for us but no one ever remembers Sandown. As most people know, you have to do both races to do Bathurst. It’s very frustrating but the people who know, know I am the moral Champion but I didn’t win the Championship. The team I drove for in 90% of the Championship did (Virgo Motorsport) so that is good but unfortunately, I won’t have that trophy. It is disappointing but what can you do? There is no way around it, some choices are made for you and this is one.
Do you have any plans for 2008 yet?
Yeah, plenty of plans going on at the moment, but nothing that can be announced – still talking to a lot of different teams, trying to fit in as much good stuff as possible.
Everyone remembers what everyone did at Bathurst (where Simonsen finished 5th) which was a good run for us but no one ever remembers Sandown.
Will you race in Australia and Europe again?
I am definitely going to race in both places again. Whether I race a lot more in Europe or a lot more in Australia is going to be the big thing and it could go either way at this stage.
Hopes for the rest of this weekend?
At the end of the day, we have to do the job, we have to win the race – that is very simple and that’s what we are going to try to do. It’s going to hard, his (Championship contender, Bryce Washington) car is fast, it’s not going to be easy but I will do the best I can.
It was a bit of a fight in qualifying but once the race starts but with the race being 3.5 hours, it will be less of a struggle compared to the rest of the year.
How was it driving with fellow Australian GT competitor, Bryce Washington in the Le Mans Series round in Brazil?
I always get on well with other drivers and for me it doesn’t affect me, what is happening here or anything like that. You have to do a job one weekend at a time and that’s what we did in Brazil. We were running second in the race and would have come second had we finished it. He was doing a good job. What are doing here this weekend is completely different and once you are racing on the track, you are racing. It was a bit of a fight in qualifying but once the race starts but with the race being 3.5 hours, it will be less of a struggle compared to the rest of the year.
Are you confident the car will last the distance considering the race is so much longer than regular rounds?
I mean you can’t be confident in motorsport but we have done everything in our power to make sure the car is as good as it can be for the race. In the past, the Ferrari’s have proven quite reliable, so let’s hope!
Interview and article by Sam Tickell on 08 December 2007