Exclusive interview with Nick Tandy
Factory driver Nick Tandy talks past, present and future with Porsche at Le Mans
In this very special anniversary year, Porsche Club Great Britain was lucky enough to enjoy an exclusive interview with the only Briton currently on the Porsche works roster. Ahead of the Le Mans centenary, overall winner in 2015 and veteran of both GT and LMP classes Nick Tandy was kind enough to share his experiences of, and expectations for, our favourite marque at the greatest race of them all.
Nick began by revealing the surprising fact that he had never actually been to Le Mans before he took part in the race, having been called up by Porsche from his familiar driving duties in Carrera Cup Deutschland. “The first time I went down to Le Mans was in 2011, when I was racing in Germany, and that was a huge moment in my life,” Tandy recalls. “I was now a Porsche-employed driver, about to drive a 911 RSR in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours. There was a lot to take on board but, looking back, that was probably the idea for Porsche – to get me the experience at Le Mans in the hope that they could use me again in the future. And I was absolutely buzzing. Racing at Le Mans is very different to anywhere else in the world, and doing 190mph on the Mulsanne Straight was just amazing. Yes, it was a baptism of fire, but you have to start somewhere!”
In his first year at Le Mans, Tandy and teammates Abdulaziz Al-Faisal and Bryce Miller DNFd following an accident on their 169th lap. However, the unflappable British talent had underlined both his adaptability and exceptional natural pace. That same year, he won Carrera Cup Deutschland before being awarded the Porsche Cup in 2012, given annually to the best Porsche privateer. It was only a matter of time before Tandy was offered a works drive, and it turned out the timing could not have been better.
Notable success in US endurance racing, including GT class wins at Road Atlanta’s ‘Petit Le Mans’ in 2013 and at Daytona the following year, was further evidence of the pace and professionalism that Tandy possessed – essential ingredients for Porsche’s future endeavours as it planned a high-profile, high-cost return to prototype racing. Tandy himself returned to Le Mans in 2014, sharing a Manthey-entered RSR with long-time IMSA teammate Patrick Pilet and German GT veteran Jörg Bergmeister. The trio finished seventh in class in what would be another solid display from Tandy, which was enough for Weissach to put him in the 919 for its second year. It would be a gigantic leap in speed and complexity, served up with a huge side order of expectation, yet Tandy approached his first chance at an outright win at the most revered sports car race in the world with typical sangfroid.
“I wasn’t intimidated because I was there to do a job. You’re put in the team because they trust you to do that job and, having raced a factory car in 2014, even though the car was very different, the environment was familiar. The biggest challenge was the speed differential of the LMP1 car. The outright speed and lap time changes your whole view of the circuit, but by then I’d done hundreds of thousands of kilometres of testing, so it was an extension of the programme that we’d actually been doing since the back end of 2014, culminating with that race at Le Mans.”
It was to be another historic moment for Porsche which, after a difficult debut for the 919 Hybrid, returned in 2015 to take the first of three consecutive outright wins, dominating the LMP1 hybrid era amid titanic battles with both Audi and Toyota. It would be Tandy’s first win at Le Mans, the memories of which he cherishes to this day.“ It was at the height of LMP1, when there were four factory teams there with multiple entries, so it was an amazing time,” the 38-year-old says.
This content is part of the regular features we provide for our members. Please login to continue reading.