Will Stevens says he’s enjoying his diverse season in GT racing, as the ex-Formula One driver chases a factory drive for 2018 and beyond.
The 26-year-old Brit makes his Pirelli World Challenge debut this weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus, in his first time behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT3 and also the first with Bentley Team Absolute.
It marks the third different GT car he’s driven this year and fourth different championship after competing in the majority of the Blancpain GT Series rounds with Audi Sport Team WRT, claiming GTE-Am class honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ferrari 488 GTE and also contesting the opening weekend of Blancpain GT Series Asia.
After a year largely focused on LMP2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, in his transition from the open-wheel ranks, Stevens feels he’s found a new home in GT racing, and one he hopes for the long-term.
“When you come over to GT racing, you want to experience a lot of different cars, different teams and tracks,” Stevens told Sportscar365.
“There’s so many different categories within GTs, it’s good to show your face in different kinds of racing.
“Le Mans came around as a great opportunity and that race literally couldn’t have gone any better. ”
Stevens is hoping to replicate the success this weekend in Utah, in his first North American race since taking part in the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in 2015 with the Manor F1 Team.
“It was pretty last minute,” he said of this weekend’s PWC drive. “I had a good opportunity to come out here and I’ve always enjoyed America.
“It’s great to be here in a Bentley. New track, new car, new team. There’s a lot to take in but it feels good so far, so we’ll see where the weekend takes us.”
While having most of his GT experience in Audi R8 LMS machinery, Stevens said his first impression of the Bentley, from Thursday’s promoter test day, was positive, and something he could build on as the weekend unfolds.
“It’s quite different,” he said. “Obviously the size is the first thing but visibility and stuff is better than I thought it would be.
“You can see the Bentley at the moment is very competitive all over. They had a great result at Spa.
“The car feels good, I just need to get used to it. It requires a little bit different technique to drive. But we’ll work away and get there.”
Teaming with Korean driver Andrew Kim, who makes his third career PWC start, Stevens said he’s is optimistic about their chances this weekend, despite being in a GT Pro-Am class entry.
Stevens, though, said he’s hoping to make the most of the opportunity, particularly with no additional PWC outings confirmed beyond Utah.
“I’m new to the championship so I have to get used to everything,” he said.
“If we come out, we’re obviously aiming to win our category. But I’m coming here to try and do the best job I can, like always.
“When you get opportunities like this, you need to show what you can do and hopefully over the weekend I can do that and we’ll see what happens from there.”
While having missed the Total 24 Hours of Spa due to Andre Lotterer stepping into his season-long Audi entry at the last minute, Stevens said his primary focus for the remainder of the year is on the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, where he currently sits second in the title race alongside WRT co-driver Markus Winkelhock.
Additional outings in other championships are also a possibility, as the Englishman sets his sights on securing a factory ride for next year.
“For sure I want to be part of a factory outfit,” Stevens said. “As a career it gives you a lot more longevity and security.
“I’m starting to do more with a few different manufacturers, so hopefully at the end of the year we’ll have some good options.
“Then we’ll need to decide which direction I want to go for the next few years.”