Alec Udell has seen his career branch out to Europe for the first time this year and the American has impressed, scoring victories and running up front in GT4 European Series competition.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Udell fills us in on the move and his prospects for doing more racing in the U.S. in 2019.
What was the significance of earning your first major victories in Europe?
“For me it’s twofold. Primarily, it shows my ability to jump into any car, series, and track and take it to the front.
“Secondly, it proves the American series I’ve driven in up to this point have prepared me for the level of competition needed to run overseas.”
How did the opportunity with MDM Motorsport come about?
“I coach with the Kelly-Moss Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge team and was talking with one of the engineers at a pre-season test about what I had going for the season.
“We got talking and he told me about MDM and that they still hadn’t finalized the lineup for the season and were looking for a quick Silver to pair with their quick silver.
“I jumped on the opportunity and we had a one day test at Zandvoort, MDM’s home course, following my race at Sebring.
“I was as quick as Simon, now my co-driver, gave good feedback and was able to bring a bit of support through my partnership with Steel Valley Lifts.
“We made an agreement and put it together, this was all about one month before the start of the season in Monza. I really couldn’t believe it came together.”
What have you been doing to prepare for each GT4 European Series round, given they are all new tracks for you?
“It’s been really awesome to go to a bunch of new tracks. Beforehand, I play the tracks on race sims, my go-tos are iRacing and Project Cars 2.
“I also have some on-board video from previous seasons from the team. When I get to the track I do a track walk to check out the curbing and the pavement to see the camber in the turns, which could affect handling.
“For all the tracks by the time I get there I can drive them in my head. In addition to knowing where the track goes you’ve also got to learn to race on them.
“Some places are good for passing (Monza and Paul Ricard), some aren’t as friendly (Brands Hatch).
“For this I watch previous season races to see what the starts are like, how common yellows are and where passing zones are. It’s all about doing your homework.”
Do you see more opportunities for yourself in Europe than in the U.S. at this time?
“I’ve been traveling back and forth between Europe and the States. Since graduating in December from Clemson, I’ve been able to focus full-time on racing and coaching. It’s nice to not have the distraction of a full-time college student on top of it all.
“There have been a few calls about some more opportunities to drive in the U.S. and some interest from manufacturers after the performances in the first half of the season.
“I think for a manufacturer, an American is interesting as we have a large market that’s hit with one language. I’m really enjoying myself in Europe so anything that comes up there I’ll work to make happen.”
You started your 2019 racing season back in SRO Motorsports America with GMG Racing. Is there a possibility we can see you back in Pirelli GT4 America later this year?
“I’d love to be back in the SRO Pirelli GT4 America series. I’ve had some opportunities to drive but had conflicts with the European GT4 series and coaching commitments I made at the beginning of the season have kept me from being back in the seat in the States as much as I’d like.”