Q&A: Martin Whitaker on V8s and the Philippines
V8 Supercars international director Martin Whitaker spoke to Speedcafe.com’s Stefan Bartholomaeus about bringing Fillipino driver Enzo Pastor to Australia ahead of a proposed V8 Supercars Championship event in the Philippines in 2013.
SPEEDCAFE: Martin, you were on hand at Queensland Raceway today to see Enzo Pastor drive the TeamVodafone car. How do you feel he went?
MARTIN WHITAKER: He has really acquitted himself fantastically well. He ran in the wet this morning and did some very respectable times while keeping it on the island. As the track dried they put him on some slicks and then some soft rubber and he performed fantastically well.
To be honest I think he’s impressed the guys at Triple Eight, just really with his attitude, because he came here clearly to learn – he’s never driven a car like this before. He obviously knows what he’s doing behind the wheel of a race car but never the less this was a big step up for him and he acquitted himself really well.
From a V8 Supercars perspective we have to thank Triple Eight for the time they’ve given to him as well. Mark Skaife took Enzo out in a road car earlier in the day to give him the lines, and Roland Dane gave him a lot of his time. To trust a young man who’d never driven a V8 before with one of their cars is something completely special, and the nice thing is he didn’t let them down.
SPEEDCAFE: V8 Supercars has obviously been the driving force in getting Enzo out here.
WHITAKER: Yes. We’re a long way down the line on negotiations and the development of the opportunity with Manilla in the Philippines to stage a race. Enzo is a leading exponent of his sport in the Philippines and is very keen to help develop the sport there along with his father (Tom), who is here in Australia with him. We have been talking to them about the partnership in terms of promoting the event in the Philippines from 2013 onwards.
More importantly for Enzo clearly what he’d like to do is look at doing a year in the development series and then hopefully getting a Wildcard entry in the inaugural Philippines race in 2013 and see how he goes from there.
Certainly on today’s performance and his times, he should be very encouraged. John Russell engineered him, and certainly John was very impressed and it showed when his times came down lap after lap. His times compared very favorably compared to existing Fujitsu drivers, and in actual fact in the wet he was probably slightly quicker than most people this morning.
SPEEDCAFE: Is it important for V8 Supercars’ international expansion to not only have an event like the Gold Coast (Armor All Gold Coast 600) with known international stars, but to also try to help develop drivers from countries that don’t have a strong motorsport background?
WHITAKER: I think from our international perspective its vitally important that in all the countries that we are going to go to, whether it’s the United States or the Middle East or the Philippines or wherever else it is we may choose to go in the future, its vitally important that as part of the strategy of going and racing those countries that we develop not only the business and tourism networks but also the driver development potential.
There will be a lot of young drivers in all of those countries who love to go racing, and if we can get one or two from each of those nations involved in V8 Supercars, whether it’s a development series level or in a second driver program or in the main game in the future, that would obviously achieve the objective.
SPEEDCAFE: Can you give us an update on the proposed V8 Supercars event in the Philippines in 2013?
WHITAKER: It’s a work in progress. As you know an announcement was made five or six weeks ago that their sports commission is supporting the event actively and pursuing the opportunity, with the aim of holding a race in 2013.
I’m very encouraged, we have some very good momentum going, which includes the development of the circuit at Clark. It’s an amazing facility – it’s a former American Airforce base and it has a number of internationally known hotels, golf clubs, restaurants and most importantly it also has an international airport within a kilometer of the race track. It’s a magnificent venue for us, because it has flights right in and out of Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, so it provides every opportunity for people who love V8 Supercar racing in South East Asia to travel to that particular race.
See below for more images from Enzo Pastor’s V8 Supercars test