With a new team and a new car, Bentley Academy driver Euan McKay has had lots to adapt to for his return to GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.
The Scot made his debut in the series in 2018 driving a TF Sport Aston Martin, before embarking on a successful campaign in the GT4 European Series last year.
For 2020, McKay earned a place on Bentley’s new young driver roster and will work with the manufacturer this season as part of Team Parker Racing’s Silver Cup squad.
How are you settling in at Team Parker Racing?
“It’s great. I already knew some of the guys from my Porsche Carrera Cup days. As a team, they know what they’re doing and they’re really good at their jobs, but it’s also one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever been in. You need to have fun when you go racing.
“They know the Bentley inside out, so it’s great to have that confidence of being with that team, with their professionalism and experience.
“We did [the GTWC Europe pre-season test at] Paul Ricard and a bit at Silverstone before lockdown, so it was good to get out in the car.
“It’s just a shame that we’ve been sat twiddling our thumbs for a few months, but we’re getting back at it again. We’re at Silverstone this week and were at Donington last week.
“We waited far too long for it, but it’s great to be back.”
How did you get involved with the Bentley Motorsport Academy, which led to your drive with the manufacturer in GTWC Europe Endurance Cup?
“We had an assessment at Portimao in December last year. That was a case of Team Parker running six or seven of us there over a couple of days, running us in the car and checking how we work with data.
“It went well and luckily I got selected, so I was over the moon at that. I think being a part of this program will really benefit me, shaping me as a driver and creating the complete package.
“It’s not just working on pace in the car, but also how you work out of the car and just developing us as drivers overall. I’m just over the moon to be part of that program and to be associated with Bentley.”
How do you feel coming into Endurance Cup this time around, compared to when you made your debut in the series in 2018?
“I think I definitely feel a bit more comfortable and relaxed. I feel like I know more what I’m doing, in terms of procedures, driver changes and endurance racing.
“I’m comfortable and really looking forward to getting started.
“There’s a different technique to driving the Bentley compared to the Aston Martin. You’ve got a bit more torque which takes a bit more time getting used to.
“The Bentley is a dream to drive and Team Parker knows how to set it up.”
What are your targets for the upcoming season?
“Winning the Silver Cup is our aim. As a team, we’re confident in our abilities both as drivers and as Team Parker Racing.
“We’re there to progress and start challenging even for outright results. That’s got to be our goal. We can’t just settle for Silver Cup, because the cars are all the same, in the sense that there’s no hindrance for being Silver Cup.
“While Silver is definitely the goal in terms of winning something we’re also going to be measuring ourselves against the other Bentleys and the rest of the field.”
What did you glean from your experience in the GT4 European Series last year?
“It was really good. I had the stint in GT3 the year before, so it was a bit different, but once I got used to the car it was a good fun series.
“It was a shame we had a bit of bad luck in the first couple of weekends. After the first weekend where we didn’t even make the grid, but if the season had started from there we would have won the championship.
“Once we got going, we had some really good results and we ended up having five podiums in the last seven or eight races.
“We qualified on pole in the last weekend and won, so it was a great end to the year although we were left thinking of what could have been.
“But as a series, the GT4 European Series is really competitive, and good fun because you get to go to great tracks and support GT World Challenge.”
How important was it to remain in the SRO European paddock?
“I think it was important, just keeping my name out there. While the teams may not have been watching intently, my name would have still been flashing up on the timing screens when they were in their garages.
“I’ve already spoken to a couple of teams that had seen how I was getting on, without me even saying anything to them.
“I think it’s really important to be in the same paddock as the series you want to go into and I think people underestimate the effect that will have.”
And finally, where do you hope your new Bentley academy role will take you?
“The goal and the dream is to achieve manufacturer status, and to do it with Bentley would just be amazing.
“Obviously this is a step in the right direction, but by no means is there a guaranteed seat at the end of this program for me or any of us.
“But I’m certainly closer than I was this time last year. I feel like I’ve taken a step forward and I just need to keep working at it and see what I need to do to achieve my goal.”