Interview with Jamie Vandenbalck

After the Race at Pau, we made a short Interview with our driver Jamie. He describes his feelings on his first race weekend on a street circuit and gives an outlook on what to expect for the reminder of the season.

Question: Pau was a special weekend, street circuit, lots of rain and a night race. What’s your summary?

Jamie: „Pau was amazing. It was my first time on a street circuit. I really didn’t know what to expect and especially when it started to rain for the first free practice I was very nervous. At first I thought it was just stupidly dangerous but my opinion changed quickly. I never had so much fun in racing before. The adrenaline kick you get for racing in small streets, no room for mistakes, it’s just perfect. And then the best still had to come, in free practice 2 in the night and again in the rain. It was dark, raining hard and the car didn’t work as it should. I had to clutch manually and finding the right gear, I did some heel and toe just the make sure the car would not start to slide in the corners on the downshifts. It felt like I was racing an old formula car. The technical issue gave me an extra kick on the already very exciting session.

Like the two free practice sessions, also the Qualification Practice was in the rain. I was actually hoping that the races will also be in the rain but they weren’t and I had to learn myself everything again. On the dry you have a different driving style, different braking points and different racing lines. In the beginning, I was a little bit struggling with this but eventually my lap times were getting better and better. After Pau I now have the feeling I can race at any track. If you ask me, they definitely may add some extra street circuits to the GT4 series!“

Q: Additionally, as you already mentioned, there were technical problems in FP2 with hardly a fast lap done. How much did that cost you in the end?

Jamie: “In the beginning of free practice 2 the track was drying but we had some problems with the car. When the problem was sort of solved, it started to rain again. The laps I couldn’t do on a drying lap were apparently really important for me. Because the conditions of race 1 were about the same as the conditions in the beginning of free practice 2.”

Q: You made P2 in FP1, P6 in Q2 and finally made it on the podium in the second race in the Reiter Young Stars Cup. Was that the first time you showed your real potential?

Jamie: “I actually started racing last year in the BMW M235i Cup. I don’t have a lot of experience and I still learn something new every race. For me it was very nice to see that my lap times were very good compared to the others who are much longer in the motorsport than me. So yeah, I think I showed my real potential for the first time in the legendary streets of Pau. Of course I hope that I can drive in the next races on the same level.”

Q: The next race will also be a special one – Your home race in Spa-Francorchamps, which also is a 2-hour race. How are you preparing for that? And what are your expectations for that race?

Jamie: “I am very pleased that the best track in the world, is on the calendar this year in the GT4 series. Spa is my favorite track, it’s a high speed track with a lot of very exciting corners. I think I already have a small advantage to the other drivers in the RYS because I know Spa very well, but still I try to prepare myself the best I can. I will do some simulator practice sessions, some trackdays to have a good feeling on the track and additionally, I raced in the TCR Benelux at Spa. The TCR cars are completely different from GT4 cars but every extra experience at Spa is a bonus.

My expectations are high on this one. I don’t want to lose on my favorite track in my own country. It will be very difficult to follow the more powerful cars but we can regain time in the fast corners. A podium place will be possible if everything goes perfectly to the plan.”

Q: Your teammate is Laura Kraihamer, who is fighting for the overall win in her class. How is your relationship? What can you learn from her?

Jamie: “I’m very happy with a teammate like Laura. She can drive unbelievable good and she is very motivated. She also doesn’t have a lot of experience in the motorsport but still we learn a lot from each other. My relationship with her is superb, just as with the rest of our team. I couldn’t be happier with our team, everyone is so nice, and we all are motivated to learn and to improve ourselves.”

Q: New in the RYS Cup is that students, who have no experience in professional Motorsports, are preparing your car. What is your view on that and how are they doing?

Jamie: “The first GT4 event at Monza it was honestly a bit strange for me. The students who had no experience at all in motorsports got a lot of responsibility immediately. They had to properly set up the car, lead the pitstops in good hands and much more. I told my team everything I know about motorsport and I’m sure they will now teach me new things. They did a good job at Monza and in Pau. I’m really happy to be part of this team, we learn and grow together and they make my race weekend even more fun. Thank you RYS Team KTM!”

Q: After 4 out of 9 races, what are your expectations for the rest of the season?

Jamie: “My target is to win the RYS Cup of course but because of some bad luck in my first races I left some important points. It’s still achievable to win it but it’s going to be highly difficult. For me the most important part is to learn a lot this season from the RYS program and to have some fun. Everyone wants to win but in the end it’s more important we had fun, right?”

The next race will take place on the 9th July in Spa-Francorchamps.

Copyright pictures: Joel Kernasenko