Q & A with Johnny Herbert

After testing for British Touring Car Championship squad Team Dynamics at Rockingham, Former grand prix and Le Mans winner Johnny Herbert sat down with AUTOSPORT for a chat

Q & A with Johnny Herbert

Q. How did you enjoy front-wheel drive?

Johnny Herbert: It was different. I'd driven the car at Goodwood, but it wasn't the touring car, it was a show car with a livery on it. The only time I'd ever raced a front-wheel drive car before was back in about 2000 when I did a round of the SEAT Cupra Cup at Barcelona. That was a horrible car, bouncing around everywhere.

Coming into this test, I was pretty apprehensive about driving the Honda because I thought it would be the same, but it was a much better feeling than I'd expected. None of the negatives of the SEAT. You still have that front-wheel drive tendency that when you come off the power the rear diff unlocks and you get a bit of that snap oversteer, but nothing too major.

Q. How much running did you get in?

JH: I only did the afternoon test, about 20 laps all told over three or four runs. James Thompson did a few laps after the rain to bed the car in, put on some new tyres and did a 26.1, and then I got in and my best was a 26.3, which was on my only set of new tyres so I can only base my time against what else was done in the same car in the afternoon, so I'm pretty pleased about that.

I'm used to single seaters where you can push straight away on new tyres, so that's what I did. I went around the banked first corner flat in sixth and it felt nice and smooth, so I felt good, but then I was just too aggressive around the rest of the lap, so the time was not good. I was smoother next time, which was when I set the 26.3.

Q. What was your overall impression of the S2000 Honda Civic?

JH: I didn't expect to feel so at one with the car. The only other thing with a roof I've raced recently is a Speedcar, with rear-wheel drive and about twice the horsepower, so it's a bit different, so I was quite impressed. I remember when Nigel Mansell tried touring cars in the Mondeo, he said it took him ages to get up to speed with it.

Q. Are you planning to race in any series next year?

JH: I haven't done much racing, other than Speedcar, recently, and I'm still involved with the Litespeed F1 project, so that's taken a lot of my time recently. The competitive instinct is still burning though, and if I can do any series competitively, with a good team and a chance of winning, as has been the case in Speedcar, then yes, of course I'd love to keep racing. I'll stop when I stop enjoying myself. Of course I'm middle aged now and the clock is ticking, but I'm not done just yet.

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