On the 1stSeptember at Silverstone Beechdean AMR driver Ross Gunn will embark on a new chapter as he will compete in the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season, starting with the 4 Hours of Silverstone. The 22-year-old driver is one of a growing band of young talent who are choosing a career path in endurance racing rather than single seaters.
Ross is a former multiple British kart champion and did one season of British Formula 4, winning two races in 2013, before switching the sportscars. He won the British GT4 Championship alongside newly crowned W Series champion Jamie Chadwick and then won the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy at the WEC test in Bahrain.
In 2017 Ross moved up to the European Le Mans Series with Beechdean AMR, racing alongside ELMS LMGTE Champion, and team boss, Andrew Howard and 24 Hours of Le Mans and WEC race winner Darren Turner. Three podium finishes in 2017 and a fourth place in the LMGTE Am class at Le Mans gave Ross some valuable experience competing at the top level of endurance.
In 2019 Ross Gunn teamed up with Andrew Howard in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and they have scored a podium finish at the prestigious Road to Le Mans event on Saturday morning ahead of the 87thedition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ross will now join Darren Turner and former LMGTE Am WEC Champion Paul Dalla Lana in the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage in the eight WEC races on the 2018/19 calendar which concludes at Le Mans in June 2020.
We caught up with Ross as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his racing career.
Q: How does it feel to be stepping up to the WEC full time?
RG: “It feels like a dream come true to be honest. I’ve been working so hard to get to the WEC; it’s been a career long ambition of mine to make this level. Aston Martin and Beechdean have been great supporters of mine, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to make this step up without them. Now it is time to focus on the job in hand and I am really looking forward to take the opportunity with both hands and do the best job I possibly can.”
Q: You started in karting but decided to pursue a career in GT racing instead of single seaters. What prompted that decision?
RG: “To be honest my single seater career wasn’t going anywhere. I am rare that I come from a very normal background in terms of wealth, we don’t have much access to sponsors and it was virtually impossible to fund a single seater career. I had half a season in single seaters, which was fairly successful, but I didn’t have the backing to go any further. That meant I had to sit on the sidelines for a couple of years.
“I was fortunate that I was able to pick up some support from Beechdean, which then got my racing career going again in GT racing. I caught the bug pretty quickly, I fell in love with endurance racing – multi class and multi driver. It’s different mentality from single seaters, you are part of a team, and this is something that I grasped very early on.”
Q: How has competing in ELMS and MLMC helped your career?
RG: “Pretty massively to be honest. I did ELMS in 2017, which was my first season in GTE, which was a great learning year alongside Andrew Howard and Darren Turner, so I had two great mentors to learn from. We had three podiums out of the five races I did that year and it was a steep learning curve. The Michelin Le Mans Cup has been a great series to keep me busy. I’ve loved the circuits that we’ve raced on; obviously racing at Le Mans again this year was a massive highlight. I feel that these two series have prepared me for the challenge of the WEC.”
Q: You’ve raced with 24 Hours of Le Mans and WEC race winner Darren Turner in the ELMS in 2017. Has Darren been helping you prepare for the WEC?
RG: “Darren and I have been chatting on the phone and on email to try and organise everything and to get as much information as possible to make sure we are fully prepared. He’s a great guy and someone I fully trust in terms of his feedback and support. He also has a wealth of experience that I need to tap into, it is very useful to have someone like Darren who I can go and see or talk on the phone. He knows WEC and Le Mans very well and that experience will help me develop as a driver.”
Q: How well do you know Paul Dalla Lana?
RG: “I know him fairly well. Having been with the works team for a couple of years I have got to know him quite well. There is still a lot of bonding still to do between us. He has clearly shown over the past few years that he is one of the quickest bronze drivers in the WEC, he is rapid around Le Mans. He has been a great supporter of Aston Martin and I have wanted to race with him for a couple of years and I believe we have the right ingredients to challenge for the title.”
Q: You raced at Le Mans in 2017 and finished 4thin LMGTE Am with Beechdean AMR. Has that experience helped you prepare for the longer races in WEC this season?
RG: “Le Mans in 2017 was my second or third 24 hour race but Le Mans was on a very different scale. First of all it went very, very well. I probably exceeded my expectations in terms of pace, it was a great experience and I learnt a lot in terms of stint lengths. I did longer stints than I had ever done before. I did one stint during the night that was just under three and a half hours, which was really physical. To take on that huge amount of pressure that we have at Le Mans as a 20-year-old will certainly help me in the longer races we have in the WEC this season.”
Q: Which of the tracks on the 2019/20 WEC calendar have you competed on and which are you looking forward to the most?
RG: “Obviously Silverstone. I’ve raced at Shanghai before and I’ve tested at Bahrain. The three tracks I haven’t been to before are Fuji, Sao Paulo and Sebring. I’m look forward to racing at all of them and in particular I am looking forward to Interlagos. While it’s a small circuit and quite twisty, Interlagos has a lot of history and is a great circuit to race on, a very busy lap. I’ve also dreamed about racing at Sebring after watching the race for many years. Very challenging and very bumpy; I can’t wait for that as well.”
Q: Silverstone is the first race, your home race and the home event for Aston Martin Racing. What are your thoughts on the season opener?
RG: “I suppose there is a little bit of pressure being my first WEC race in front of family and friends at Silverstone, but I enjoy it and I love Silverstone; I’ve always gone well there. It’s the perfect place to start my WEC career and I will be giving it absolutely everything to try and start the season on the right note.”
The WEC 4 Hours of Silverstone will take place on Sunday 1 September.