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Robertson: “I’m Hoping To Take The Start At Le Mans In 2018”

Charlie Robertson on VdeV, British GT, Asian Le Mans and the build up to the LMP1 programme

20-year-old Ginetta development driver Charlie Robertson has come a long way in the last few seasons, winning the Ginetta Junior championship and the SuperCup before becoming embedded into the manufacturer as a driver and a part of the office staff during the week.

This year, he’s raced in VdeV with Simpson Motorsport driving a G57-P2, a Ginetta Juno LMP3 in the Asian Le Mans Series with PRT Racing and with Century Motorsport in British GT, driving one of its G55 GT3s. And it’s only April!

It’s been flat-out for him since January, and the opportunity to race more frequently has only improved his work on the track, as well as on the business side.

Because of this, it’s clear that his aspirations extend further than just winning a couple of titles and calling it a career, his long term plan is far more complicated than that, as he expressed when he sat down with DSC recently.

So Charlie, the most powerful of the cars you’ve driven so far this year is the G57-P2, which you have plenty of experience in, after racing in VdeV full time last year. How much has it developed since you first got behind the wheel?

“Every time I drive the G57, it’s a small step forward. We’ve had issues, but everyone does when they develop new cars. It feels properly nailed, the downforce on it is proper. It’s confidence inspiring, which is what you want for a race car. I love doing VdeV, I’d love to do the whole season, but because I’m doing British GT with Century with Parker Chase, there’s clashes with Round 2 and 3.

“I’d like to do more later in the year.”

How do you find racing in VdeV as someone so early in your career?

“The ethos of VdeV is about people enjoying their motorsport, and racing, and it fits the Ginetta brand. I enjoy driving in the series, it’s the perfect place for young drivers and gentlemen drivers to move on in their career. The atmosphere is great too, the series organisers do everything they can to make sure we’re all happy.

“There’s a great selection of cars on the grid, it’s underrated, you’ve got G57s, LMP3s and a mixed bag of GTs which make the races really interesting. To do a full season last year was great.”

The ethos of VdeV is about people enjoying their motorsport, and racing, and it fits the Ginetta brand. I enjoy driving in the series, it’s the perfect place for young drivers and gentlemen drivers to move on in their career

In British GT, you’re racing the G55 GT3, which this year has had a lot of development work done to it. Did you get to drive it much before Round 1 at Oulton Park?

“Mike (Simpson) did most of the development work on the G55 GT3, and he’s been behind it, pushing it forward. I trusted his judgment, and he’s made a great car for us to race this year. We’re confident that over the course of the season it will prove to be one of the best GT3s in the field.

“It’s certainly the best we’ve had in terms of upgrades. The new Chevy engine underneath the bonnet gives us more torque at the circuits which are tight and twisty, so I think it will be a positive season.

“Parker has a lot of experience racing in the States and in the PWC championship with Ginetta, so once he gets used to the championship it will be interesting to see how we can do. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think he’ll relish it and do well. Century too are a great team to drive with, they’ve won the SuperCup multiple times with Ginetta, and are really professional in the way they go racing.

“I’d like to think we can get the car its first win, that’s the goal and it would be a job well done from everyone.”

Was the British GT Championship something you wanted to do going into this season?

“I really wanted to do the British GT Championship, yeah, as soon as I knew there was a chance. I’ve been off racing in Asia, and visited some awesome places, but part of me has missed racing on home soil at tracks like Oulton Park and Brands, it’s a mega calendar.

I’ve been off racing in Asia, and visited some awesome places, but part of me has missed racing on home soil

“I also get to go to Spa too, which is a new circuit to me, I’ve never even seen it, let alone drive it. I want to see what all the fuss is about!”

Tell me about your time in Asia with PRT, racing in the LMP3 class of the Asian Le Mans Series over the winter, how was it?

“It was a strange season, the strangest of my career, because there wasn’t an off-season, I went straight to Fuji from the end of VdeV. It was an awesome experience. The tracks over there are great over there, I really enjoyed Japan in particular.

“To have that experience of travelling has paid off for me as a driver, as I didn’t think I’d get to go that far away to race this early in my career. I made a lot of friends, worked with some awesome people, and really enjoyed racing with Ginetta teams over there. It was cool to go and work that far away with the Ginetta family.”

Outside of racing, you also work full time at Ginetta, working in the factory, which is rare for someone your age. It must be great for your learning curve?

“Yea, both Mike (Simpson) and I race on the weekend and work five days a week in the factory, it’s different from a lot of factory drivers who get home on a Monday and train all week. We’re straight back in the office and I do what I can and like to think I’m learning as much about the business I can.

“It’s good to be in the loop too, as you’re working in the same room as all our designers who for example are working on the LMP1 car and I’m getting to see how much goes into it.

I’m committed to Ginetta long term, and I’m focusing on where the company is going, which is hopefully at Le Mans and doing the World Endurance Championship

“I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more when the car finally turns a wheel!”

With so much going on in your life, and with a CV that’s already packed full of impressive achievements, what’s your long-term goal? You must have had to move the goal posts recently!

“There’s not many jobs out there like the one I’m in now, that’s what I’ve realised in the past year. I appreciate the role I’m in now more than anything else, because it’s so rare.

“I’m committed to Ginetta long term, and I’m focusing on where the company is going, which is hopefully at Le Mans and doing the World Endurance Championship. That’s my dream, that’s where I want to race. Trying to make that happen now is a big thing, and it’ll be so good when it happens.

“I’m hoping to take the start at Le Mans in 2018 and see where that important season takes me.”

Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography