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The secret weapon helping Tandy’s IMSA title pursuit

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6 Mins

Porsche 963
Porsche Penske Motorsport


Porsche’s stalwart Nick Tandy offers unique insight as a team boss, father and top racing driver

When it comes to racing drivers, few can offer the depth of insight that Nick Tandy does. The 39-year-old is one of the top Porsche drivers in the factory programme, but is also a team boss through the JTR team in the Carrera Cup GB - something he believes has helped him further develop his racing skills. Tandy won the Laguna Seca race in the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 in May, and went on to take pole before finishing second in the Detroit Grand Prix. He is heading to Le Mans in June as part of the prestigious marque’s ace driver line-up. He won Le Mans with Porsche in 2015 alongside Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg, and leans on every ounce of his experience in and out of the car to try and find the edge, especially when the margins are so tight at Le Mans. Tandy certainly feels like having to be a team boss in the day-to-day helps with having a greater perspective - in turn that means becoming a better driver and team-mate when he’s at work in IMSA.

“It definitely is a benefit because it broadens your horizons and gives you views and experience on other things that you normally wouldn’t,” he explains. “It's not something that I ever thought I would be getting into. It wasn't a choice of mine. “How you manage budgets, manage staff, from the driver selection and recruitment process through to sponsorship, motivating, because in sport, if everyone's not happy, they're not going to do their best work. “So, it's maybe something that in my position as a driver, you wouldn't realise is going on behind the scenes. So I think it does give you a good understanding and you’re always learning.” Tandy has slotted seamlessly back into the Porsche fold since rejoining to work on the 963 project - his experience has been invaluable - and there is one big goal left on his bucket list to achieve which racing with Porsche Penske Motorsport is helping with.

Despite so many amazing results over the years, including winning the prestigious Petit Le Mans race in a GT car which should have been far slower than the prototypes of 2015, Tandy has never won an outright IMSA championship. That Petit Le Mans win came in a year where Tandy had to miss Long Beach and Laguna Seca through being at Le Mans, so his team-mate Patrick Pilet who stayed in IMSA won the championship and Tandy was two races short. Most drivers would trade an IMSA title for a Le Mans win, but it still hurts that it was so close. “I've yet to get an IMSA Drivers' Championship, which in eight or nine years of competition, it’s overdue. So that's a big goal.” IMSA probably means so much more to Tandy because of how much of his career has been spent there. He says he “loves everything about the racing here”, and that “I've been lucky enough to have choices over the years as to where I do get to race, it’s always been top of my list”. It’s especially the way the championship is run, traveling the different states, tasting the food and of course the IMSA fans that underpin that love for racing in America’s premier sportscar championship for him. When you think of Tandy, you always think of Porsche, his career with the Weissach brand is so intrinsically linked. His symbiotic connection with Porsche is certainly not lost on him.

“There are hundreds, thousands of people in my trade that would love to be in my position,” he adds. “Porsche gave me my big break in my career, which led to how it shaped the rest of my life and how I can support and bring up my children. “Porsche is a huge part of my life. “The history that Porsche Motorsport has got when they go racing, I think if you speak to anyone, it's the most synonymous brand in sportscars, in sportscar racing, is Porsche. “People go through a career longing to drive for Porsche and never do, so you've got to appreciate that privilege.” Tandy’s full focus now is on racing at Le Mans, and then he will be heading straight back to Watkins Glen for the next IMSA race on June 23. In the meantime, his Carrera Cup team will be racing in the UK and his son Felix has started racing this year as he gets to start his career all over again vicariously through him. All of these other areas help Tandy to become a driver with better perspective in and out of the car. “We all like driving cars fast, but the thing I've seen with Felix is the competition,” Tandy says of his seven-year-old son. “That's the real draw of motorsport, it's the competitive side. So he doesn't want to just drive faster than himself each time he goes out. He wants to compete against other people.”

Tandy adds: “I’ve won a few races over the years, and it's always great. “I’ve also been on the pitwall watching my boys as such, which are my drivers in my cars within JTR, I see them win and it's awesome, it's a different experience and the emotion's different. “It's the same with my daughter when she's winning dance competitions and gymnastics because you followed the process of when they get to the point of being able to compete to win. “There will be lots of pitfalls and heartaches but when they finally do and I saw it a few weeks ago, the first time Felix won a race, like third or fourth meeting, it's just so great to see. “It's like a drug because when you see other people being so happy, especially when it's your own children, and I can relate so much to what they're thinking and feeling, all you've ever want to do as a parent is give your children the best opportunities to invest in themselves, so I absolutely love it.” Tandy will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking place from June 15-16, with Porsche Penske Motorsport.

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