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Best Car, Worst Car, Dream Car: Charlie Robertson

Ginetta Factory LMP1 man selects LMP1, club racing icon, and Le Mans winner

Charlie Robertson is a young man with a long cv, much of it in recent years aboard the varied output of Ginetta Cars, Lawrence Tomlinson plucking the talented young Scot from a successful run in one-make Ginetta Racing and installing him as a factory race, test and development driver.

His time with the marque included the start of the LMP3 era and Charlie became the first-ever LMP3 Champion in 2015 in the ELMS alongside Sir Chris Hoy.

More recently he’s been entrusted with the Team LNT LMP1 effort and has put in some impressive times in the car. Where does the G60-LT-P1 rank in his racing lexicon, read on and find out!

The Best car you have ever driven?

Hands down it’s the Ginetta LMP1 car, by a mile, night and day different and better than anything I’ve I’ve experienced before. 

Give us an impression of the areas where over and above something like the LMP3 car. And by the way, in order to scale, that’s a leap forward.

So the biggest thing for me, the acceleration is pretty massive off the corners, you almost can’t change gears fast enough.

The next thing is the aero is enormous, but that’s just a belief thing really.  You have to accept that the car will go that quickly around any given corner and you’ve just got to hang on to it and  tilt it in. That can be particularly intimidating when it’s a track they haven’t ever been to before which we’ve had a couple of times this season. 

And then really the brakes!  You can come from 200 plus miles an hour and you just hit them as hard as you can and the thing just stops, your eyes are out on stalks when you hit the brakes.

I often find that I haven’t got a sore neck side to side that often from the g-forces but just the back of my neck from the sheer deceleration, and the braking at the end of a stint, you wake up the next morning and the back of your neck is is pretty stiff just from having to hit the brake so hard and then the deceleration forces on your body.

All those things when I first drove it were a massive leap on from any car I’d experienced before in my career. 

Which parts of LMP1 surprised you? You’ve mixed with a lot of the guys who have done this before including Lawrence Tomlinson who has raced LMP1 cars before. Which part of that performance was the biggest surprise?

The Aero, 100%, the high-speed aero grip that you can get as you turn into the corners.

When we drove it at Aragon, on the first circuit test I came in after my first full bore run and the guys were asking me: “How is it?  How does it feel?” This is after a first five-lap run, and I couldn’t even speak. I was catching my breath mostly. So it literally took my breath away that that first test you.

They were asking me what I thought on the setup when I was still mentally working through how to drive the thing!

I was in full-on “Oh, my God!” mode.  Bear in mind I hadn’t driven much prototype stuff for a while before that either. We’d done a lot with the G 58 and the P3 car but the work at Ginetta had been quite GT focused in the year leading up to the P1 programme for me so jumping back into a prototype at that level was definitely an eye-opener!” 

What about the worst car?

” I’ve driven quite a few cars over the years in different formats, different styles. 

“I really don’t like Caterhams. I’ve driven a Caterham racecar. And I just can’t hack them. Really it’s a very different technique, obviously, but I just found that they just understeer to death. And you’ve got to see the throttle to get the rear to come around to rotate into the corner and that’s not my style.

“It just felt very soft and it wasn’t a fun thing to drive really. So that would be my worst race car, just a car that I’ve never really got on with and didn’t find it enjoyable. 

“A lot of people really love Caterhams and love driving them but it just doesn’t tickle my fancy.”

What about the dream car?

“The Mazda 787B!

“It’d be epic to have raced that. 

“That Herbert #55.  My number throughout my junior career was always 55. And it was just the noise the rotary engine made on idle. It was the coolest idle of any race car ever.

And then just that livery as well with the orange and green, absolutely perfect!

“I reckon it would be very special around Le Mans.

“I was at Le Mans camping on the sidelines when Johnny Herbert demoed the car.

“If I had to pick a pick a race car to have a few laps in, definitely that’s, the one.”