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Opinion

The valuable lessons a second-generation star will apply to IMSA in 2024

OPINION: Porsche specialist and BRDC SuperStar Seb Priaulx reflects on his season in IMSA and his plans to challenge for top honours in GTD Pro in 2024 with his distinctively liveried AO Racing 'Rexy'

#80 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R 992: PJ Hyett, Seb Priaulx

Performance-wise, I was up there with the top Porsche GT drivers in IMSA every weekend in 2023. The team, AO Racing, was new, having only been formed in the winter of 2022, but did an amazing job to get the car to where it has been because the Balance of Performance hadn’t really been on our side, apart from the last few races.

It was a massive learning year, as it was my first time setting up the car and being the lead driver in a GTD pro-am line-up. I felt like I’ve learned a lot from doing that and progressed as a driver in and out of the car. We didn’t get the results we wanted, but I’m happy with how the year went.

It was around November 2022 that I was getting an idea of what we were going to do. The link came through Multimatic and Gunnar Jeannette, who is one of the drivers and part of the management team, and founder PJ Hyett, who was my regular co-driver wanted me. It was a good move for me to do and I really enjoyed working with them all season as the team is great and very professional. I can only see better things with them as they make their way up.

I’ve helped the team learn the Porsche 911 GT3-R because it’s different to the RSR, set-up and handling-wise, so it’s difficult and has a very small window to work in. It’s not very easy to set up, but the team did a great job, and we did get some really good results.

Highlight of the season would be Virginia, which was one of my best races. I finished the top Porsche, and I was really happy with the pace. I had a good race, I kept it on the track and did some good laps, so I was happy with my performance. At Road Atlanta we were pretty quick. I really enjoyed the track, as it’s fast and flowing with not a lot of room for error. Towards the end we nearly had a podium, which was taken away from PJ, Gunnar and I in the last few minutes – that was tough.

It was a tricky year because we were on the back foot, but we kept believing in the car and ourselves and I think that’s the main thing. We can only do what we can do, being positive and clear-headed every weekend, not focusing too much on the results and more on our performances.

It’s probably the only year that I’ve not had a proper podium, but you do get those years, and I’m sure there will be many more to come, so I’m not too worried about that. I know this car well now so being back in the Porsche will be great.

Priaulx is looking forward to stepping into the GTD Pro class next season and fighting against factory-calibre lineups

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Priaulx is looking forward to stepping into the GTD Pro class next season and fighting against factory-calibre lineups

Laurin Heinrich will be joining me at AO Racing, and we’ll be moving into GTD Pro. It will be a tough 2024 because I’ll need to be pushing even harder than I usually do and I will need to be performing at my best with someone that talented alongside me. However, it will also be a great challenge and nice to test myself against fully professional line-ups, though it’s a shame we won’t be racing at Long Beach – that’s one of my favourite circuits!

It’s only over the past month that I have properly known what I’m doing and was signed with AO Racing again. It’s a great opportunity and stepping up to GTD Pro is where I want to be.

I’ve helped the team learn the Porsche 911 GT3-R because it’s different to the RSR, set-up and handling-wise, so it’s difficult and has a very small window to work in. It’s not very easy to set up, but the team did a great job

I’m ready to fight with all the factory drivers, and being at the top of the timesheets, hopefully. I know Laurin a bit because I did Porsche Shootout with him a few years ago. He won it and he’s a good guy, quick, and tough to beat, but I think it’s good to have someone in the team like that, pushing me forward.

I’m now a full British Racing Drivers’ Club member, which is amazing. The BRDC SuperStars programme is great to be on. It’s such a prestigious club, it’s nice to be part of that history. I haven’t been able to attend a lot of the team-building sessions over the past year because of my commitments in the United States, but Andy Meyrick does a great job running everything.

I looked up to the BRDC as a kid, as my dad was there, and I did once put some stickers on my helmet and my dad said: “You can’t do that because you’re not a member!” But now I can happily do that.

Priaulx relished racing on the US tracks, including ViR and Road Atlanta, though regrets that Long Beach isn't on the GTD Pro calendar

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Priaulx relished racing on the US tracks, including ViR and Road Atlanta, though regrets that Long Beach isn't on the GTD Pro calendar

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