After several years behind the scenes and in the Super2 ranks at Garry Rogers Motorsport, James Golding has earned his first full-time drive in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Golding sat out the Dunlop Super2 Series last year but impressed in his wildcard outings and Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver role alongside Garth Tander, earning promotion into the second GRM Commodore.
Speedcafe.com’s Dan Herrero spoke to him about the year ahead.
QUESTION: You said at the time of the announcement that the call-up was a “surreal” experience; has it sunk in yet or will you have to wait until the season starts?
JAMES GOLDING: To be honest it will probably take until once we start testing to really sink in. Right now, nothing’s changed for me; I’m still working at the workshop and all the rest of that.
I know that it’s going to happen but it still probably won’t sink in until the first test day (Sydney Motorsport Park, February 16) and I’m starting to do laps in the car beside GT in the other car.
QUESTION: You had a very good year in 2017 in the wildcard and enduro rounds that you competed in. In 2016 there were a couple of incidents, particularly at Bathurst, that looked damaging to your reputation from the outside. Have you marked yourself as one to really watch now?
GOLDING: It’s over a year-and-a-bit now so it’s definitely been put behind me but the biggest difference is just experience and more time in the car. Some of the stuff I’ve been doing outside of the car has helped me with that as well. The main thing was just getting used to everything.
It’s a tough category to go and race in and be quick straight away and as soon as you’re dawdling around or anything like that, people think you’re no good and it makes it harder.
You need to try and make baby steps but you can’t make them too small otherwise it will take too long and you won’t progress anywhere.
QUESTION: It was just five race weekends for you last season, but you did say that you learned so much even in just your first wildcard appearance. Do you see yourself having any problems in getting up to speed come Adelaide?
GOLDING: No, I don’t think so, to be honest; it will be just like going to another race.
Obviously the guys I’m racing against will have a lot more experience than me and that’s something that I’ll have to keep in the back of my mind but I don’t think that I could be any more prepared than I will be come Adelaide and I don’t think that should stop us from getting some good results straight away.
QUESTION: You mentioned things that you’ve been doing outside the car to get ready. Is that just fitness or is there something else that you’ve been working on?
GOLDING: It’s just everything in general. Along with fitness, it’s the mental side and preparation.
I’ve also learned a lot from Garth, he’s taught me a lot about how to go about things, and also driving-wise as well. That’s helped out a lot and I’ve gained a lot of respect, even more than what I had from him, and also gained a lot of information that’s going to help me for plenty of years to come.
QUESTION: Do have an aim for the season, such as a championship position?
GOLDING: I’ve got a couple of small goals that I’d like to tick off. Obviously I’m going to give it my best shot and whether that’s 15th or that’s on the podium, we’ll have to wait and see, but to be honest I don’t have a set position in the championship or anything like that.
I’d really want to get into a top 10 shootout, maybe one or two of those would be a really cool thing to do, and also obviously some strong race results.
QUESTION: Finally, you’re a mechanic and you’ve been a tyre changer as well. Obviously the second of those is out of the question but are you still going to get your hands dirty in the workshop?
GOLDING: I’m going to continue working at the workshop in subassembly but on race day I’ll just be a hundred percent driving so I can do a good job there.
I’ve enjoyed the past five years I’ve been working here and you gain a lot of knowledge about the cars. There’s not really much on the car that I don’t know so that’s hopefully going to help me out there with the racing as well because if we do have an issue then hopefully I can pick up on it quicker.