James Pull burst onto the GT scene this week, with phenomenal success in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Middle East Series, taking four out of four wins and finishing the series as vice-champion.
The 18-year-old, 2017 British F3 vice-champion, joined the last two rounds of the highly competitive series with no prior testing, looking to gain experience ahead of a full campaign in 2018 in Asia and Europe. But with a supreme showing of talent and pace, James took the championship by storm, winning all the remaining races despite it being his first time behind the wheel of a GT car.
Teaming up with Chinese owned team FFF Racing, James made his GT series debut, alongside established teammate, Jack Bartholomew, across 4 hard-fought races in the United Arab Emirates. Hot off the back of contesting the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, James was quick to get behind the wheel once more, for his first taste of endurance style racing. Despite missing the opening round whilst racing in New Zealand and having never driven a GT car before, the Singapore born driver hit the ground running in no uncertain terms. Showcasing his adaptability in getting to grips with a variety of new racing procedures and machinery, he rapidly matched the pace of more experienced drivers.
“For my first weekend in the car, I went into the races with the aim of trying to learn as much as possible. I’ve not competed in a car race where I’ve had to do a rolling start, swap drivers, or had to work with such accurate time management, so there was a lot to get my head around. While it’s not an endurance race as such, it uses a lot of the same skills. From the beginning, the pace was there which felt great".
Starting from pole at the Dubai Autodrome, the FFF Racing teammates claimed a lights-to-flag victory in the first of two 50-minute races held on 16-17 February. Boosted by this early success, James took to the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo #5 to make his first race start in a GT class. Managing lap times, overtaking and pit stops expertly, the duo engaged in battle against the rest of the field and made an emphatic return to the top step in the second outing of the weekend.
Heading into the final round of the championship (2-3 March), James felt confident in his pace. Aboard the #5 car, it wasn’t long before he showed blistering pace with a series of purple sectors in qualifying.
“My pace was better than I anticipated at this early stage, it definitely felt good and I knew I had a real chance of pole in my first qualifying on new tyres. I was fastest in two of the three sectors but made a small mistake in one which cost me Pole".
Making only his second rolling start, James managed to make up 2 places on the first lap, setting wheels in motion for what was set to be another impressive win for the two British teammates. Contending with wet asphalt and safety cars, proved to be yet another learning curve, but James took it all in his stride on the way to a third victory, which in turn sealed the drivers title for his teammate - Jack Bartholomew.
With the car taking the championship in style, James took to the track for the final time, following a superb stint from his teammate, taking the lead soon thereafter. In a thrilling final 5 minutes, a safety car period saw his 9-second lead cut down with only a few laps remaining. With a calm head, James managed to keep his rivals at bay, to take the flag for a fourth consecutive victory.
“I had some really good guys on my tail, including the winner of this year's Daytona 24 Hour Race, but I managed to keep them behind, it was a whole new experience and like learning to race all over again. It felt great”.
Finishing second in the championship despite not contesting the full series, proved to be a sensational debut into the world of GT racing for the 18-year-old. With success and confidence on his side, he heads into his next challenge, where he mounts an attack upon the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia & European Series.
“Overall, I’m very happy about how much I’ve improved in a short period of time, I feel confident going into the rest of the year, I am comfortable in the car and FFF Racing are excellent. My teammate Jack and I work really well together and he is a worthy champion. It’s been completely new to me as a driver and I’m excited about the challenges ahead in both Asia with FFF Racing and Europe, where plans are being finalized.
All my car racing has been in Europe so to be able to race in Asia is special for me. I am half British and half Asian, my mother being Malaysian Chinese. My next race is in Malaysia so I am really looking forward to that ".