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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Pippa Mann

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with Pippa Mann ahead of her Indianapolis 8H drive…

Photo: Audi

Seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter Pippa Mann is familiar with driving around the iconic 2.5-mile speedway, but this weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour will mark a rare instance of her competing in a clockwise direction at the Brickyard’s infield course.

Mann is driving the No. 7 OGH Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport run by Nolasport, which she will share with Sean Gibbons and Sam Owen in the GT4 class.

In this Pirelli Paddock Pass Q&A, Mann discusses her upcoming Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli debut, her preparations for the event and her other recent motorsport roles.

How did your Indianapolis 8 Hour drive with OGH Nolasport come together?

“At the 2019 Indy 500, my crew was mainly made up of a whole bunch of sports car racing guys, who we roped in to come and help run the car. One of them in particular, Dougie Livingston, introduced me to Sean at COTA last December.

“Sean and I have been in touch ever since. I kept talking to him and pestering him, and then eventually they decided that we were going to do this and I was going to join Sam and Sean in the No. 7 Valkyrie/OGH car for the Indianapolis 8 Hour.

“It’s also exceptionally cool that I’ve been able to bring a familiar partner from the Indy 500, Bell Techlogix. So it will be really cool to see that logo on the car and their guests coming in to see a very different type of race car.

“They’ll actually be able to sit in this car, which is pretty cool. With an IndyCar, guests can look at it, whereas this looks much more like something they could actually drive themselves.

“Also, for the first time at this race, I have Indy Women in Tech with me on my crash helmet. That’s really cool, because it’s a group based here in Indianapolis that is about the advancement of women in technology.

“Motorsport has so much technology involved with it, to bring that group to this race with a female driver is really fun. I have done several keynote speeches for them before, but this is the first time where they’ve been part of what I’m doing. So it’s very fun to have them with me here.”

What recent driving have you done to prepare for this?

“I’m living here in America, coaching and driving in various paddocks throughout the U.S. I don’t spend any time in the SRO or IMSA paddocks, but there are lots of other series in the U.S. where I have clients that race, and I race alongside them in the car.

“I’m really, really lucky this year. I have a client who has a 991.1 Porsche Cup car. I coach and drive with him in a series called International GT.

“I also work with a team that runs a car in a championship called World Racing League, and I’m the resident coach and co-driver in that car, an M2 CS Racing. Those are eight-hour races, and normally it’s me and three people whom I’m coaching and co-driving with.

“I was also bouncing back and forth to the Nordschleife this year and got to run the 24-hour race in an Audi. But this is going to be my first time in a Cayman on Pirellis.

“Aside from a ChampCar race in a Honda Civic where I did about 15 laps before the car broke, it’ll be my first time going this direction down the straight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway! But I’m really looking forward to the event. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

How have you settled into the OGH Nolasport operation?

“OGH have been fantastic so far. Sam and Sean have been incredibly welcoming.

“The entire Nolasport operation that runs with OGH to run this car has also been fantastic. I’m just really looking forward to learning from Sean and Sam what I can over these next few days.

“And then on Friday, I get to put the Sunday fun day suit on and go play.”

Have you driven the Porsche GT4 yet?

“I drive it for the first time on Friday!”

Is this drive a signal of intent that we could see you in the SRO America paddock more often in the future?

“I’d absolutely love to do more of this type of racing. However, as everybody knows, racing is all about sponsorship or working with clients who want to go and do this type of racing.

“I’m really enjoying my experience in the paddock and I would absolutely love to be in this paddock in the future. Who knows what the future holds.

“I am incredibly lucky and fortunate that, at this point in my life, I am earning my living primarily from coaching and co-driving in racing cars.”

And what about the Nürburgring 24. Are you hoping to return to that race next year?

“I don’t know. I would certainly love to do it again. However, a lot of my focus right now is on building my coaching and co-driving business.

“The M2 CS Racing that we run in WRL, myself and the team actually just went in on that car, so I’m a part-owner of one of the two team cars, as well as being a coach and co-driver.

“It’s a very big and scary step for me, but it allows me to bring in three people and have them split the cost of having a coach and pro driver in the car, as opposed to one person covering the cost for the car.”

What are your impressions of SRO Motorsports Group’s efforts to establish a major North American GT race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

“I think that Indianapolis Motor Speedway has understood for quite a few years now that it wants to expand beyond just being the venue for the Indianapolis 500.

“We’ve seen it with NASCAR races and other sanctioning bodies in the past. I think if SRO and Indianapolis can really make a success of this event, I think it would be really cool.

“The Intercontinental GT Challenge is such a great idea and a cool series of events. If it’s able to work at this track and this town… this is a racing town. People love here love race cars.”

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