Michael Lewis is racing towards the first green flag of 2016 full of optimism. One of the Pirelli World Challenge’s breakout stars of 2015, Lewis is back with EFFORT Racing and is set to embark a full season campaign in the GT class.
The 25-year-old has once again been tabbed as a Porsche North America Young Driver, and with the backing of the manufacturer as well as a cadre of longtime supporters, Lewis is optimistic that his second year with EFFORT will build on his strong debut a season ago.
“It’s just consistency. It’s like another day at the office,” Lewis told Sportscar365. “It’s the same team, just rolling up with new cars, so we’re good to go.”
“It gives the driver confidence just to know that that variable is the same. They’re awesome and a really good team, and they provide fast race cars.
“So on top of the consistency and our nice rapport, it’s just good to be with a very strong team.”
The brand new Porsche 911 GT3 R that Lewis will be wheeling isn’t the only change within the team structure in 2016.
After being paired with Scottish ace Ryan Dalziel last season, Lewis will have none other than Porsche factory stalwart and fellow Californian Patrick Long.
“Last year it was Ryan Dalziel and it was the coolest thing ever,” Lewis said. “He was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met and really fast.
“It’s kind of the same thing this year with Patrick Long. He’s a Porsche factory driver, so that’s awesome. I was kind of in shock when I read the news.
“The biggest thing is to learn. He’ll be fast and maybe I will be too, but the biggest thing is always to learn.”
Lewis will rely on Long, who already has experience in the new Porsche, early in the season, since the delivery of EFFORT Racing’s machines came relatively late in the preparation process.
“In racing sometimes things happen kind of last minute but we’re getting it all prepared and ready to go,” said Lewis. “I’m going to lean on [Long] a little bit.
“In the end it’s a Porsche with the engine in the rear. I’m going to take it with the idea of listening to him and try and go into it like anything else, where you try to find the balance of the car.
“It has a steering wheel, it has pedals, and it’s a Porsche, so you have an idea of what it will feel like.”
Lewis was genuinely grateful for the support that Porsche has provided him in his career.
“The goal is to be a professional driver, and Porsche right now is very much a part of my career,” he said. “If that’s the way everything’s going, that’s cool.
“If it goes a different direction, that’s fine too. But PMNA, and in particular Jens Walther and Owen Hayes, have been so helpful in providing opportunities for my career.
“Whatever happens in the future is cool, but just to be a professional driver in the sense of always racing on the pro scene [is the goal]. And if it’s for Porsche, that would be awesome.”
Lewis, who spent much of his early career in the junior open wheel ranks in Europe, is entering just his third full season of sports car racing, but he says the category, and PWC in particular, has proved enthralling.
“Sports cars are what I love right now, and they are dear to my heart,” he said. “Long story short, the series is getting big. There’s a lot of interest.
“I’m not just saying that because I’m in the series. The series is heading in the right direction and it’s cool to be a part of that upswing.”
When asked if he would be taking part in the new, three race Sprint-X Series, Lewis expressed interest but noted that the decision is ultimately up to the team.
“No idea, I’ll just listen to whatever the team wants to do and take it from there!” said Lewis. “If the team wants me to do the Sprint-X, I’m ready to go.
“I really appreciate the team and Porsche Motorsport North America for putting me in this car for this year, and we’re just going to go out and try to win races for them.”