Q & A with Chris Buncombe

Q & A with Chris Buncombe, the leading British contender in the GT1 Drivers Championship, ahead of this weekend's Silverstone round of the FIA GT Championship

Q & A with Chris Buncombe

Q. Chris, you drive one of the stunning JMB Racing Team Maserati MC 12 GT1 cars. Can you describe what it is like to drive such an immensely powerful sports car?

CB: Immensely powerful is an understatement! You have around 650 brake horse power tucked under your right foot and combined with the incredible carbon brakes, it's a mind blowing experience which words do little justice too! Put another way, it's the ultimate experience a man can have outside of the bedroom and a good bedroom at that! We regularly top speeds over 200MPH! It is, however, a very 'Driver Friendly' car! The seats are individually tailored to suit each driver and are quite comfortable given the aggression the cars are exposed to, particularly over the harsh kerbs. We have a six-speed sequential gearbox (which makes gear changing very much quicker than in a road car), and very direct and positive steering. The steering lock is not brilliant, but it never is on a race car, though of course at racing speeds you do not need much lock to change direction!

Q. What are the brakes like?

CB: These utilise the latest technologies; the brakes are made from carbon fibre which I admit took a little time to get used to - they just slow you down so quickly, it really takes getting used to how quickly you loose speed! The trick of course is to keep the heat in the brakes as when they are cold they are not at their most effective! When they are working at their optimum state, the braking g-forces are really indescribable! Brake temperatures can be over 1000°C!

Q. And the tyres?

CB: Well, they are at their best when they are new, so for qualification for example the first two or three laps are the best. However, they are designed to last a full driving stint between fuel stops - that is usually about an hour of constant racing. It is not unusual to double stint the tyres which means you can save time changing the tyres during a fuel stop, but we do not do that unless we are sure about wear rates. They alter at every track and work in-line with the fuel strategy.

Q. The weather forecast isn't good for the weekend. Should it rain, to what extent is vision compromised on track?

CB: Surprisingly perhaps, but visibility even in the rain is quite good. The aerodynamic set-up of the car forces the windscreen practically to clear itself. It certainly is much better than a single-seater car, especially Formula One where the spray has a dramatic impact upon driver vision.

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