Liz Halliday – Looking Forward To 2006

dailysportscar.comLiz Halliday was at the NEC, for the Autosport Show, on January 12, and she was in a buoyant frame of mind as she looked ahead to her 2006 racing season.

So what’s the full programme for this year, Liz?

“I’ll be doing the full ALMS season, plus at least four tests, in the Intersport LMP2 Lola. I’ll be partnering Clint for the whole season, including Le Mans, and Jon will possibly be joining us for Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.

“I hope Jon will be joining us, because he’s a great guy to have as a partner: he’s helped me a lot. Clint is a very good driver too, and we work very well together. The Intersport team are a great bunch to work with – they’re some of the nicest people in racing, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

dailysportscar.comSo it won’t be quite such a busy year as 2005?

“2005 was crazy. I had about four weekends off during the year – because I was driving the Lister Storm as well as the Intersport Lola.

“Driving the Storm definitely helped me when it came to driving the prototype. I didn’t find the Lister an easy car to drive though: it’s a real beast. But working with Laurence (Pearce), I learned more than in any other year of racing – but it was a big jump, into the GT1 car.

“The handling is completely different from a prototype. The Lola weighs less and has more downforce, and carbon brakes too, but the Lister has awesome brakes. Sharing the Lister with Justin (Keen), I had to be lifted up in the seat, because I’ve got quite a short body compared to the length of my legs, so it was difficult to get a comfortable position in the car. And the GT1 cars are very hot – and much heavier to drive than a prototype. Most of the other drivers are professionals, and it’s very tough racing. Yes, it was a big jump.”

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How did the season with Intersport start off?

“Sebring was the first race – in the B2K/40. That was my first race in a prototype – but the next race would be Le Mans, in the B05/40. I did one test in the new car, at Road Atlanta, and immediately I loved that car. I like Road Atlanta, but it’s difficult to set a good time there – especially as I was still getting used to the turbo AER, the brakes and the downforce. By the time we went back there for Petit Le Mans, I’d found about four seconds.

“Le Mans is faster but a more straightforward track, and we led there (Sam Hancock, Gregor Fisken and myself) for most of the first nine hours, until we retired.

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“I then had five races with Intersport in the ALMS – at Infineon (where we won - above), at Road America (where I had the big fire, without which we would have won again - below), Mosport (we won again), Petit Le Mans (victory again) and Laguna Seca.

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“I’ve loved racing in the ALMS – more than any other championship I’ve raced in. The people, the staff, the fans – it all adds to a great weekend and a great event. The ALMS has been good to me, and I think they like having me in the series.”

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What about the ALMS tracks – they’re not like European ones, are they?

“Mosport and Road America are my favourites – they’re the best tracks I’ve ever raced on. Mosport is so fast – but I think I drove my best race there, partly because I love fast tracks. For the same reason, I love racing at Le Mans (below), especially in Intersport’s Lola. Spa would also be great in the Lola.”

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Are you expecting any changes to the Lola for this year?

“There’s a downforce update from Lola, which I hope we’ll have at the test at Sebring, and I know AER is always working on developments to the two litre turbo.”

dailysportscar.comBut you’ve got a season-long rival from Porsche to contend with this year.

“Yes, it’s going to be up to Clint and I to up our game, but me especially. We’ll be racing against Dumas / Bernhard and Luhr / Maassen, so that’s going to be very difficult. I think a podium is ‘doable’ every weekend, but we’d be stupid to settle for that. The Porsches might not go all the way every time of course – and we have to remember that Jon was only half a second off the Porsche at Laguna Seca.

“We were the car to beat in 2005, but the Porsches are going to be huge opposition.”

So it doesn’t frighten you off, having to race against the two RS Spyders?

“Definitely not. It doesn’t matter how tough the opposition is, Intersport will never give up trying to beat them. Intersport want to win this year, just like last year.

dailysportscar.com"Anyway, if we end up standing next to those Porsche guys on the podium, that will still be awesome.

“And we’re not expecting them at Le Mans, and we’re going to try our damnedest to win there in June, especially after being so strong last summer.

“The Intersport Lola is the best car for me to move forward with this year. I love working with Intersport – they’ve got exactly the right attitude. Now it’s up to me to up my fitness, and push that much harder.”

We’ll catch up with Liz again at the “Wheels Down Winter Test” at Sebring (January 23-25).

 

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