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Aitken on GTP Debut: “I Would Like to Make This Stick”

Jack Aitken eager to “hit the ground running” in first top-level prototype appearance…

Photo: Cadillac Racing

Jack Aitken views his IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup drive with Action Express Racing as his “priority” this year and that he would like to make the top-level program “stick” as his career focus shifts to sports cars.

The 27-year-old British-South Korean has graduated to the top tier of prototype racing as the additional third driver in Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Cadillac V-LMDh.

Aitken made his sports car debut in 2020 with former Lamborghini GT3 squad Emil Frey Racing, appearing in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS alongside test and reserve driver duties with the Williams Formula 1 team.

He then entered prototypes last year, helping Racing Team Turkey to win the European Le Mans Series LMP2 Pro-Am title.

That season gave Aitken the results to support Action Express’ consideration for him to become the team’s endurance driver alongside Alexander Sims and Pipo Derani.

“When the regulations came out, I was watching with interest,” Aitken told Sportscar365.

“I was still in the world of single-seaters. It’s not that it wasn’t on my radar – it’s just that my focus was on other things, mainly F1. Things changed over the last couple of years.

“Since I started racing in sports cars, getting to big races like Le Mans and Daytona in the top class was always the priority. Prototypes are much closer to my heart and where my history of driving is with.

“Even though I love the GT stuff, and that’s why I would like to continue it this year if I can find a program.

“[IMSA] was on the radar, but this deal came together quite late. It all came together quickly, without even meeting the team or doing a test. Luckily, it’s been going really well.

“We’re happy with each other and the relationship has been really good. The tests went well in December, so I think we can hit the ground running.

“I would like to make this stick, in terms of staying in the top class and being in a factory outfit.”

Aitken’s career path has shifted firmly onto sports car racing, after a period of overlap with his Williams F1 role that peaked with a single Grand Prix start in 2020.

Sportscar365 understands that Aitken and Williams have not renewed their F1 contract this year, leaving the former to focus on establishing himself in another discipline.

Aitken confirmed that he had also been discussing with Lamborghini about a potential factory contract based on his performances with Emil Frey, but the emergence of an immediate GTP drive with fellow LMDh manufacturer Cadillac impacted that option.

“We’ve been having conversations along those lines,” Aitken said.

“I’ve raced with Lamborghini for a couple of years under Emil Frey Racing. That’s been really great, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

“Of course, we’ve had our eye on the future and what that might turn into. They were supportive of me going out and finding what I could for this year.

“Their [LMDh] program doesn’t start until 2024, so they understood that they couldn’t offer the same things. I had a very frank discussion with them.”

Aitken is eager continue racing GT cars next year after contributing to Emil Frey’s ADAC GT Masters teams’ title and forming part of its Pro lineup in GTWC Europe.

The Swiss team announced on Monday that it has switched brands from Lamborghini to Ferrari.

“It’s a complicated world,” Aitken acknowledged. “I want to keep racing in GTs, so we’re still having that conversation there among other opportunities I might have in Europe.

“Ultimately, this year, my priority is racing for Action Express in IMSA and making that work. It is the top flight, at the end of the day.

“Nothing is set in the long-term future. You do have to make commitments, and I’m happy to be here.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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