Albatec’s long view

by Hal Ridge |

Scottish RallycrossRX driver Andy Scott is a relative newcomer to the sport, making his Supercar debut at Lydden Hill, August 2009 in a British Championship event. He caught the bug that day, and it has not left since. Having raced in the British, European and Global rallycross championships in a selection of cars over the last few years, 2013 bears a new challenge for Scott, forming a new team fielding a pair of brand new cars.

Not only has the winter period been an incredibly busy one for the newly formed Albatec Racing team, but it kept its entry into RallycrossRX quiet right until the last moment, surprising many with a totally new operation.

Experienced French rallycross constructor Mtechnologies is the technical side of Albatec Racing, and responsible for building and maintaining the pair of Peugeot 208s that are being used this season. With engines from Oreca, and transmission from Sadev, it’s a proven package.

“The technology in the new cars is a known quantity. The engines are transversely mounted so it is fairly similar to the Citroen DS3s. Although everything is new it’s all known technology in the car which is certainly a good thing,” said Scott.

Driving the second Albatec car will be highly experienced rallycross campaigner Michael De Keersmaecker, who initially entered the championship in his aging Ford Focus before signing a deal with Scott to drive the second 208.

“Michael will be a great asset to the team. He is a very experienced guy, and has been champion in a lot of classes so he will be able to bring a lot,” said Scott.

De Keersmaecker missed the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, unable to race following an injury sustained at a Belgian national rallycross event a few weeks earlier. He will be behind the wheel at round two in Portugal, and will test in France before then.

“The second car is getting there,” said Scott. “They are never finished as quickly as you want them to be but it will be in Portugal. Michael and I will both test before then for at least a day.”

Starting a new year with a new team and car would be a lot for most to take on, never mind a two car operation, but Scott is experienced in being involved with more than one car. Last season he was in partnership with Per Eklund in the Global Rallycross Championship, fielding a car for himself and US-based Swede Samuel Hubinette. In 2011 he contested a full European Championship campaign in a Ford Focus run by Tony Bardy Motorsport, with Kevin Procter in a similar car also being run by Bardy.

“This is my first real team environment. I started from nowhere last year and leant a lot, it was a great experience. Even when Kevin [Procter] and I were both driving Focuses they were different cars underneath and we weren’t both in the same team as such. This year both Michael and I are racing for the team, we want to finish as high as we can, whichever of us is higher up the order. Obviously I want to win, and so does Michael, but the important thing is that the team succeeds. From a commercial point of view, we need recognition as a team,” Scott says.

Success on the track directly reflects on the amount of interest attracted from the outside, but Scott is very aware that success doesn’t happen overnight. “This is a three year programme – at least. It’s not a one-year wonder. We are in for the long haul and to develop as we go. We have a great team of people and I really believe we will be up there with the best of them.”

Running two cars has major advantages in speeding up the development process, especially in the hands of experienced racers such as Scott and De Keersmaecker.

“There are massive advantages in running two identical cars. And when I say identical I mean it. The only difference between them will be the livery on the outside. Aside from that they are the same. Having two of us in the same cars will speed up data acquisition massively. One of the great things about the cars being identical is that we can both test either car, it won’t make any difference aside from set-up. The team is very structured, and it needs to be. The French engineers are very methodical, which is great. There’s no action without reason, and no reason without discussion. Monday to Friday I am team principle, then on Friday of race weekends Marc [Laboulle] takes over and I concentrate on driving.”

Along with the advantages running a two car operation brings its own set of challenges. “We will be taking two trucks all year, you have to take a huge amount of stuff, and of course they act as accommodation at the circuits too. We have 18 people in the team for Portugal, and everyone needs to sleep somewhere. For Portugal my car will go in the big truck and get there first, and the other truck with Michael’s car will arrive later to give the guys as much time as possible to add the finishing touches. For the other events both cars will go in one truck and the other will carry all the wheels and tyres, engines, transmissions etc. the list of equipment is huge.”

Despite the quantities of ‘stuff’ required to run the team on events, Scott is looking forward to the team being able to return to base in France between events if required. “Last year for the GRC we took everything we could at the start of the season and made do, just to get through. This year we can always go back to base, or run a van and trailer to meet the truck so we can run a development programme and keep running the cars on events no problem. I want to do some events outside the European championship too, I’d like to get as much seat time as possible,” said Scott, who will test again between Portugal and Hungary.

Although in for the long haul, Scott has dreams and aspirations that he would like to fulfil as soon as possible. “There are some big names in the championship this year. Having the likes of Solberg is really good for the sport, but none of them are unbeatable. I’ve tasted the champagne before and I want to do that again. The goal is to have two cars in the final this year, then podiums. To have two cars on the podium would be a dream come true.”

Now a major team player in RallycrossRX, some might think that Scott is looking to follow the likes of Eklund and Kenneth Hansen in running a team and stepping aside from driving. “Running the team and not driving isn’t for me,” he says. “I think I’m the oldest driver on the grid now but I’m still young at heart. You need luck in this game and I stand as much chance as anyone of being lucky. I very much enjoy driving the car, and racing. That’s my motivation.”





« »