James Brock is best known for his V8 Utes Series driving, as well as a limited races in V8 Supercars.
In 2012, he takes on a new challenge – driving the Mercedes Benz SLS GT3 for Australian GT squad Erebus Racing.
After getting his first taste of the German car at Phillip Island, Brock explained to Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley that he is in awe of the machine and is looking forward to his new challenge.
SPEEDCAFE: What was your first drive of the Meredes Benz SLS like?
BROCK: I had a ball. It’s the fastest rig I’ve ever punched around down there. It’s was an eye opener!
SPEEDCAFE: Has the test changed your expectations? Or does it fit in with what you were thinking?
BROCK: It definitely fit in with what I’d been told about the car. Ultimately, it’s a pretty easy and forgiving car to drive. Having the benefit of things like traction control and ABS, it really allow you to twist the limits – and without as much risk.
You can really fire it into corners, jump on the brakes, smash it and rely on the electronic aids to get you through. The reality is that is exactly what I have to do to get the most out of the car.
It’s very different to what I’ve done before. It will require a different approach. On the one hand, it is a bit more forgiving, but you have to adjust the way you attack the track to get the most out of the vehicle. It can do things that other cars are not capable of.
SPEEDCAFE: What was the biggest thing that you noticed between this car and anything else you have raced?
BROCK: The biggest thing for me will be getting used to the aerodynamics. Obviously, it’s not going to apply to every track, and probably very few tracks, but Eastern Creek and Phillip Island have high speed corners.
The car has so much mid-corner speed. You just fire it in at a million miles an hour – much quicker than I’m used to. I’m still building up to that and get my head around how you approach some of those high-speed corners. It is awesome.
SPEEDCAFE: How many test days do you have left until the first round?
BROCK: We’ve definitely got one more test (at Winton). That’s where the second Mercedes, which has just arrived, will have its first track run. Maybe we’ll do another day at Phillip Island as well, but certainly one more test.
SPEEDCAFE: You’re driving the Mercedes as part of the expanded Erebus Racing. Peter Hackett will be your team-mate. Does he get the new car and you get the car that Peter drove last year?
BROCK: That’s right. I’ll be in the original rig.
SPEEDCAFE: Peter has obviously driven a lot of sportscars in his time, plus openwheelers. It must be good to have him in your corner as you get used to this style of car …
BROCK: Absolutely. It is good. I’ve known Pete for a long time and we work together on a regular basis, so it’s always good to team up with someone you are comfortable with and someone you can communicate with.
We do approach things quite differently, so it will be interesting to see how we feed off each other.
I’m looking forward to it. Having the benefit of his experience in sportscars and things with wings is going to be an advantage, and I’m hoping we can push each other on – a bit of friendly rivalry and competition. Hopefully that will bring us better results and keep up in front of the rest of the field.
SPEEDCAFE: You did a couple of Fujitsu V8 Series last year. Are you focusing all your energies on Australian GT and the Mercedes program, or are you looking to do other things as well?
BROCK: My focus is wholey and soley on the GT Championship. If something else did come along, we’d have to have a look at it, but the focus is the GTs. I had obviously talked and looked at other options – the Development Series was definitely another thing we considered for this year, but unfortunately, the timing didn’t fit in right and we couldn’t put anything together for it.
I’m not disappointed, though. I’m happy to have the deal to run in the GT Championship and I think it’s exciting for me to be involved in the creation of the Erebus Racing team. The team is coming in on the ground floor, and being involved in the set-up of the team will be challenging and keep me very busy.