“I will still do some racing, but I’m now looking at a test and development role, like a team sporting director,” says Priaulx, who is signed to Anglo-Canadian specialist Multimatic, which ran the Ford GT programme and now controls Mazda’s US IMSA sports car campaign and Ford’s Mustang GT4 in Britain and the US. “I’m at a stage where I can use my experience, similar to Allan McNish [now team principal of Audi’s Formula E team]. I want to stay involved in sports cars, even if it was just to do the long-distance races. And I haven’t closed the door on WTCR. But I also want to build a career out of the car.”
Out of balance
Priaulx admits to some frustration with his 2019 season in WTCR, which garnered a victory in Macau but too many failures to finish. “I was a bit disappointed in the driving standards compared to DTM and the old WTCC,” he says. “There was too much contact. And, as always, the Balance of Performance made it difficult to be competitive. That’s a risk for any driver now when you choose a series to race in.”
BoP is the artificial means by which many series equalise performance across different makes of cars. In WTCR, a compensation weight formula changes from round to round to stop one brand from becoming dominant, leading to a yo-yo effect in form. Priaulx can’t stand it. “I was very fortunate to race before BoP,” he says. “I’m sure Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t have been as successful as he has been if F1 had BoP. It’s a good thing to keep manufacturers involved, we have to keep them happy and this is the world we live in now. Each wants to have their fair share of winning. But it’s not good for drivers, and I don’t think the fans like it either.”
Third-generation Priaulx rises
Just like his dad, Priaulx now understands what it means to have a son with racing ambitions. Sebastian, 19, is also signed to Multimatic and is a British GT class race winner in the GT4 Mustang. “He’s on his way now, and I no longer have to pay for him to go racing!” says Priaulx. “Life now is more enjoyable than it was in my mid-30s. I’ve been through the whole parental experience of bringing up kids while trying to balance a racing career. There was a lot of pressure. I suppose I see things more clearly now, and I still feel young.”
Priaulx has come a long way since those F3 days and remains among Britain’s best pro drivers outside of the F1 bubble. It’s good to hear that he’s not done yet.
Jordan pulls out of BTCC
Last month, Andrew Jordan told us about his financial concerns for the British Touring Car Championship in the wake of the coronavirus. Turns out he wasn’t simply talking in general terms, despite his new deal with BMW.