Greaves Motorsport’s new ELMS driver Luciano Bacheta shares the #28 Zytek-Nissan with Mark Shulzhitskiy in Austria this weekend. The 24-year old from Essex boasts an impressive CV that includes not only the 2012 FIA F2 title, for which he received a Williams F1 test, but also race wins in Formula Renault and Formula Palmer Audi. Now intent on carving out a career in endurance racing, Bacheta has concluded a deal with Greaves to make his LMP2 debut at Red Bull Ring this weekend.
He chatted to Sam Smith ahead of travelling to Austria for the big race.
Luciano, last time we saw you racing was last year in the Auto GP series at Silverstone. What have you been up to since then?
“Not as much as I’s have liked to be honest. It has just been very difficult to raise the necessary budgets to continue my single-seater career. It is the classic situation of the higher up you get, the harder it is to sustain it commercially.
“I did a few races for Zele Racing last season in AutoGP but with a limited budget I decided to stop because it was just not the way to do it properly. Now though with endurance racing I think we are on the right track.
How did the opportunity with Greaves Motorsport arise?
“It came through an engineer that I knew (ex-Jaguar F1 engineer Jan Cantryn) who co-incidentally lives in the same village as Tim (Greaves) and worked for the team at Le Mans. I went to Le Mans last year and had some good meetings, one of them with Greaves. So since then I have been working on getting in to sports cars. If I am honest there was a lot I did not understand about the sports car world but the visit to Le Mans was vital for me to get immersed in it all and to meet the right people.
“I view this move as a significant one for me in my career. I want to do it properly and with a good team mate like Mark (Shulzhitskiy) I am confident of learning quickly and getting some good results. I also view it very much as a long-term thing and I am gearing everything up for 2015 as well.”
You tested at Snetterton last week. How did that go?
“I was comfortable in the car immediately. I was able to attack quite early on, even though it started as a shakedown as the car had been re-built following Le Mans. I felt very good straight away and by my second run I was able to get down to what was is considered a competitive time, which was very pleasing. I was happy with the way it went especially as I had not driven any car with that level of grip for over a year.”
Have you seen much of the ELMS in 2014? Do you know much about your competitors?
“Yes I have seen some of the races and I know some of the drivers from the single-seater ladder, guys like Harry Tincknell and Oli Webb. I actually raced Oli way back 2006 in T-Cars. They both seem to be going really well and have made names for themselves which is good to see. I like the depth of talent in the series and actually a lot of them are team mates together, so I think most of the LMP2 entries are capable of winning the race.”
How are you viewing the team dynamic of endurance racing as opposed to the more self-orientated single-seater discipline?
“I have heard that for a lot of drivers it is a big change but luckily after the test at Snetterton it was clear that Mark and I work well together. Whenever I asked for a change or he did, we reacted to it the same way and validated the changes on the track, so that will be a big help.
“We had some time to practice driver’s changes and I have to be honest and say that it was a little strange for me because it is so alien coming from single-seaters. But after practicing a few times I started to get the rhythm going on getting out and getting in too. The team have been terrific so far and have prepared me very well indeed, so I am grateful for that. We want to get to Free Practice at Red Bull Ring and ensure we leave no stone unturned and covered every area, which is exactly the way I like to go racing.”
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