Jonny Adam is set to kick off his year at the wheel of a Daytona Prototype, as the 2015 British GT champion (pictured left), joins Action Express Racing for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, thanks to an initiative from Sunoco.
The 31-year-old Scot follows in the footsteps of Filipe Nasr, Bradley Smith and Phil Keen in winning the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, which has placed Adam in the No. 31 Whelen-sponsored Action Express Racing Corvette DP for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.
Adam, a factory Aston Martin Racing driver, spoke with Sportscar365 on his opportunity with the defending IMSA Prototype champions, as well as look ahead to the 2016 season with AMR, and his potential full-season effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Did you imagine being in this position, in making your DP debut at Daytona?
“I knew of the prize when it started . You concentrate so much on your own racing program and I’ve raced against Phil Keen and I knew the opportunity he got last year.
“It was a great year last year with Beechdean winning British GT but this is just icing on the cake to come over here again and to race a DP car that I’ve never raced before.
“I’m with a championship-winning team; a good outfit with great teammates so it’s a great opportunity.”
Have you gotten any advice from other drivers that have driven DP cars before?
“Yeah, I’m just trying to get as much information from other drivers that have driven the car. From what everyone’s said, those with a little bit of GT knowledge might help in some areas.
“But for me, it’s gone back to aero. It’s also going to have a lot more than what a GT3 car has. A GTE car has a good amount of aero anyways. It’s a racing car and has pedals and a steering wheel, so it’s another car to get used to.”
Does it give you confidence with the strength and experience of your co-drivers in DP?
“Dane and Eric have obviously driven the car last year and had a great end to the season and showed great pace. Simon, obviously, is a household name in the States and his background is very strong.
“I think I just have to learn from those guys. I’ve gotten on very well so far. I just want to blend in; no fuss, just ease into the team and get used to the car.
“Across both cars, we have good drivers, good crew, and a team that’s won the championship. And this is an important race for them, to start the season off very well.
“I loved coming to this race with TRG two years ago; I really enjoyed the race and I’ve always wanted to try and do it again, but to do it in the top class, with the championship-winning team, is just a mega opportunity.”
Do you think having the Aston GT experience at Daytona will help you?
“Yeah it’s track knowledge and you see it from a different perspective when you’re in a GT car and you’re in one of the slowest clases. But then you go to a race like the 24 Hours of Dubai in a GT3 car and it’s manic; you’re the fastest car on track and the Nurburgring 24 is the same.
“Traffic management is key. It will be different getting used to that in the Prototype car and the visual aspect of it but I’m sure I can pick that up quick quickly.”
What did you learn in your in the WEC with Aston Martin Racing this year?
“Last year was a difficult year with the way the BoP swung around for the Aston, but hey, that’s the way things go with the BoP. It got good towards the end of the year and obviously Bahrain to finish the year with a podium with Darren [was good].
“I learned a lot from him and a lot from racing in the Pro class. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s a great opportunity from Aston. I think we both got on extremely well with each other, which is the important thing.
“Stefan [Muecke], has obviously moved on to his new adventure with Ford. We both gelled very well and both have the same driving style as well. I’ve been with Aston for two and a bit years and keep learning every single round.
“I would love to be part of that opportunity [in GTE-Pro] going into this year. We’ll just have to wait and see how it comes together.”
How do you think Aston Martin has helped you career?
“It’s been massive. I owe a massive amount to a lot of people who have got me into the situation. John Gaw [AMR team principal] for giving me the opportunity for being a factory driver, Andrew Howard [Beechdean-AMR team owner] for sticking with me for five years; we’ve won two championships now together.
“There’s a lot of other key people that have got me to where I am through sponsorship and opportunities. It’s a nice situation to be in and I always wanted it to become a professional racing driver.
“Earning a living from this sport is not something that a lot of us get the opportunity to do. But I understand that racing both with a customer and with the factory is important You have to do both things as best you can.
“Racing with Andrew has been great because he’s succeeded in what he thought he could do. He’s won British GT twice now and he’s going to have a busy racing program this year. His goal is Le Mans and I hope he gets that. He’s on the path to do that.
“So it’s nice to take an Am and take him along that way. But I love with Aston. The GTE car is a strong package, and so is the GT3 car. Racing 25 weekends with Aston was a busy year but I throughly enjoyed it racing with loads of different customer teams.”
What would it mean to get a full-time ride in WEC?
“I’ve won British GT last year and I still enjoy racing at that level and in Europe. But I want to win a World Championship and I want to race at Le Mans. That’s the goal. If I get an opportunity this year, great. If not, hopefully I’ll get it in the future. But I’m patient.
“The important thing is that us as a group improves and takes the fight to Porsche, Ferrari and Ford next year. With the new car everyone’s happy back at the base. Things will come together and I think we’ll be in a good situation.”