IN HIS OWN WORDS: HENRI RICHARD Leading the GTC championship with TRG teammate Andy Lally Henri Richard is living a dream in his first season in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÃ³n. Three podium finishes - including...
IN HIS OWN WORDS: HENRI RICHARD
Leading the GTC championship with TRG teammate Andy Lally
Henri Richard is living a dream in his first season in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Three podium finishes - including a victory at Lime Rock - have put Richard, teammate Andy Lally and TRG in the driver's seat. Today we hear from Richard as the second in a two-part Q&A with the leading class contenders - Black Swan Racing's Tim Pappas was in the spotlight Monday.
Q: What are your impressions of the season so far?
A: So far it has been spectacular. Every race is down to a gap of a few seconds on the last lap. I'm fortunate to have in my opinion the best team - TRG - and the best co-driver - Andy Lally - in GT racing. This has helped tremendously in my introduction to this level of professional racing. We had a couple of small hiccups at Sebring and Long Beach, but since then the season has been perfect. We're the championship leaders, so I can't ask for anything more in my rookie year. The Series has been an amazing one to participate in. The other drivers are great people, the fans are amazing, and the level of treatment and professionalism from the Series makes it easy to deliver value for my sponsors.
Q: How difficult is it to make the transition to the American Le Mans Series?
A: I actually started in off-road motorcycle racing, took several years off to build my professional career in the technology field, and only recently began racing again - starting with karting as so many drivers do. I was turned on to GT racing through the Ferrari Challenge three years ago. The first step was simply getting used to racing with an entire car around me! In motorcycles, you use your body and its positioning to angle the vehicle where you need it. In sports car racing you have be very conscious of the throttle, brake and steering to transition the weight and axis of the car. Once I spent a couple of years in that series and I was able to run up front, I decided it was time to move up to a higher level of sports car racing, which is why I'm here today.
Q: Did you expect to lead your class and win a race in your first season?
A: I'd certainly hoped to run in the front, but I came into the Series with reasonable expectations. To do well we have to not only run fast, but also make no mistakes; that alone presents a unique challenge. The team and I had planned a solid race strategy at Lime Rock which allowed me to turn the car over to Andy in the lead. It was a great feeling, and an even better one was to stand on the top step of the podium with Andy. An ALMS championship would be surreal. I will unfortunately miss the race at Road America due to some professional obligations - which will hurt my personal chances at a driver's championship - but if we can earn the team championship I will be elated.
Q: What have you learned from Andy Lally and Kevin Buckler?
A: Andy is a sponsor's dream. He's fast, a great racer, and extremely personable with sponsors and guests. As a coach, he's the ideal person to work with. His laps are always perfect, so when we look at the data I can get a precise idea of what I need to do differently around the track, and similarly he's very good at keeping me patient and calm over the radio. Also during the race we have Ryan Eversley, another great sports car driver, who does most of our spotting and he's very good at guiding me around. Kevin Buckler is of course our team leader and a great influence. He's won all the big races so he knows about patience, and he's always very quick to remind me to stay within my limits and play the odds properly.
Q: What does the future hold for GT Challenge?
A: The GT Challenge is a great class for someone like me due to the rules. They are well-managed to keep costs at a minimum, and their requirements for driver pairings allow someone at my experience level to have a fair chance. I would like to see the minimum driving time for each driver be one hour in order to give amateur drivers like me more seat time in the short races. I think the best thing that could be done for the fans is to allow other manufacturers in, but of course that has to be done carefully to manage both cost as well as parity.
Q: What do you expect for Mid-Ohio and the rest of the season?
A: Now that we've earned our first victory, our goal should be to win every race. That is not to say it will necessarily happen, but we have the crew and a co-driver capable of winning. So we will aim to win each race and with that would come championship points. I have not driven at Mid-Ohio or Mosport, so I will spend a lot of time on simulators and looking over videos to minimize the amount of time it requires me to get up to speed. My personal goal is to improve my pace at every race without running off, and then leave it to the professionals!
What will this year's Mid-Ohio round hold in store for Richard, TRG and the rest of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón? We'll all find out at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 7. Live race and qualifying video will be streamed online at americanlemans.com. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche - a production of Radio Show Limited - as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242. The race will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 15 on CBS Sports. Visit the Series' schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.