Matt Griffin feels he is in a good position for next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with Clearwater Racing, and has praised the Singaporean squad for being a truly Asian operation.
The Irishman returns to Le Mans in the Ferrari 488 GTE he is very familiar with but having joined Clearwater for the full FIA World Endurance Championship this season.
While it may be a new team for the AF Corse regular, he has been very impressed so far this season, and already has the Silverstone class win to his name.
With Le Mans around the corner, he remains realistic about his chances but believes he is with one of the strongest teams in the competitive GTE-Am class.
“It’s going to be super tough,” he told Sportscar365. “In GTE-Am in WEC, the level is high but obviously there are only five cars, so you don’t have the depth.
“Every crew is really good and every crew has at least one factory driver in the car, with [Miguel] Molina, Pedro Lamy, [Matteo] Cairoli and so on. The level is very high.
“Then we go to Le Mans, and the field triples in size. It’s going to be tough, and I don’t know exactly where the Ferrari is going to be in terms of pace.
“Le Mans is Le Mans and it is a really tough race, but I’ve got to say I’m quietly confident. Clearwater finished fourth last year and it’s a really good team.
“They’ve got loads of passion and they’ve captured the imagination of the paddock. It’s an interesting team to work for and on the technical side, they’re very, very good.”
Griffin says one of the things that has impressed him most about the team is that it is one of a few truly Asian teams competing at this level, with the majority of crew members hailing from south-east Asia.
“For a lot of teams from Asia, it’s very easy to come and to buy a drive with AF, Proton [Competition] or Larbre Competition or whoever,” he said.
“You can buy a drive, call it Clearwater Racing or Hong Kong Racing or whatever you want to do, and portray it as an Asian team, but it’s not.
“Clearwater was very focused, and it’s cost them a lot more money to do it this way, they want to come, they want to do the job, and they want to be an Asian team.
“We have a lot of Malaysian and Asian guys working for the team, and then we have two or three guys from AF [Corse]. They’re there just to balance everything out.”
Nevertheless, he says the team has adapted to its first full WEC season very well, having previously focused on Asian series.
“The guys from Malaysia have done Asian Le Mans Series and stuff like that in the past, but WEC and Le Mans is just another level,” he explains. “WEC and Le Mans is like a Swiss watch – everything has its purpose.
“Be it the guy refueling to the guy doing the wheels to the guy cleaning the window. The guy cleaning the window has to be the best guy at cleaning windows in the world, because the level is so high.
“It’s been a big jump up for the team but man, have they done an amazing job. Our pit stops at Spa were really fast, the car’s running really well, and I really applaud them.
“I’m really happy to be a part of Clearwater Racing because of how they’ve done it, they haven’t taken the easy route, they’ve come over as a properly Asian team.”
Taking into account a win and a podium so far this year, Griffin says they are in strong position for Le Mans and that the team has a good chance of taking class pole again.
“It’s a great team, honestly,” he said. “Without trying to sound arrogant, when I’ve been in the car both at Silverstone and at Spa, I’ve been the quickest guy.
“If you look at my top ten lap times, I’m a lot quicker than everyone else in the field. That will tell you the level that the team is at, and they’re giving me what I need from the car.
“I think if the BoP is OK with the Ferrari, which is something I hate, I hate BoP, but it’s a fact of life. If we’re there or thereabouts, we’ve got a strong realistic chance of pole this year.
“I think there are ten cars that can win the race in the GTE-Am category and I think we’re one of them.”