There are many gentleman drivers in Blancpain GT who just enjoy being there, only wanting to be a part of the event, not caring about the prizes. They pay their way into a car, stay out of the way of the pro’s, and do their thing realising it’s probably as good as it’s ever going to get. Not Liam Talbot. Having had his first taste of Blancpain GT success in 2015, the Australian gentleman driver is aiming for the championship’s Am class trophy, and beyond.
Last year saw Talbot take the Am class win in Monza with Stephen Earle and Marco Zanuttini as co-drivers. Although it was the Kessel Racing trio’s sole win, they would make their way onto the podium twice more onwards to third place in the championship. With this baggage, Talbot is now aiming for the title.
“There are so many variables,” Talbot remains realistic about his championship chances. “But now I know each track that I go to, I’ve been there before. I know the car better each time I drive it, I’m now more experienced. So I can’t see any reason why we won’t be in a good position to win the championship this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances.”
One such variable is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the team was at the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup season opener in Monza. While tried-and-tested, the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 can hardly stand up to two collisions. A suspension failure brought an early end to Talbot’s race, who for 2016 shares the Ferrari with Vadim Gitlin and Marco Zanuttini. With one zero-score behind their name, they’re already trailing in the championship standings.
Racing with Kessel is more than just a ride for Liam Talbot. It’s the team where the avid surfer made his Blancpain GT debut in 2014, a chance the team gave him that hasn’t been forgotten when over the winter other teams were interested in signing him.
“We’ve spoken to a few people. Even in Blancpain GT a few other teams were trying to get us, but I enjoy racing with Kessel a lot. They gave me a chance and I want to show loyalty. In my opinion they are also the best team, they do everything so well.
“It’s been a long winter, but coming back to the Blancpain GT Series has really opened my eyes again. This is an amazing series to be a part of. For an Australian to travel all this way, it makes sense because it’s the best series with the best cars, best tracks, best people, and it’s the best chance to learn on my road to Le Mans.”
The dream of every sports car racer: racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And again, it’s not just being a part of the show what interests Talbot. If he’s going to be there, he’s going in it for the win.
“I want to do the Le Mans 24 Hours in an LMP2 car. This year I want to spend in GT again, get to know it better, get more experience, learn on-track as there is still a lot to learn. And then I want to test an LMP2 car and see if I can drive one. Then I’ll try to be faster, and eventually I want to race, and maybe do the Le Mans 24 Hours one day. If not next year, then maybe the year after, but you never know how things work out.
“If I don’t make it, I can step back into a GT car and that is not such a bad thing. It’s absolutely, 100-percent, push-push-push towards the goal and giving it everything. But if I don’t make it, I’ll be the one to say, “I’m not doing it.” I’m not going to just make up the numbers. I want to be a strong bronze and bring something to the team, instead of people saying, “oh, that guy is slow”, or, “it’s just about the money.” I want to have the talent to be there. Otherwise I won’t do it.
“I don’t know the LMP2 car, I don’t know if I can handle it. I know the Radical really well, and obviously I’ve had some success in it, so we’ll see.”