Jordan Pepper kicked off his third year with Bentley Motorsport in spectacular fashion by winning his first major endurance race.
The 23-year old South African along with Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet claimed victory in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February to start the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season.
In this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass, Pepper took time to reflect on the win, explaining that it feels like it was just yesterday that he was standing atop the Mount Panorama podium.
What were some of your takeaways from the first part of the racing season?
“Going into 2020 Bentley came off a tough 2019, it was no easy feat and the only real highlight was our win at Paul Ricard and the rest of the year, Bentley’s 100th year, was tough. We really learned so much through 2019 and that motivated us coming into 2020 and the focus went into Bathurst.
“After the 12 Hour we ended up on top and it was a dream start to the season, it showed the hard work with the new car over the last three years had paid off and all the drivers and team never stopped believing. The motivation that comes off a major win is like no other, everyone went into Bathurst on overdrive and left there on an even higher overdrive gear.
“There are people that relax when they’re on top and then there are people that work even harder to stay on top and I definitely felt within myself that the drive to succeed even more was greater than ever.
“I was buzzing to get going in GT World Challenge Europe with K-PAX but unfortunately COVID-19 came around and we were at our first pre-season test but the team had to turn around and head back to America before the borders were closed. Now we’re just sat on idle.”
Is your Bathurst win still fresh in your mind?
“Some days I feel like it was a lifetime ago and then some days I see some highlight clips and reminders and it just feels like the best thing that’s happened in my career.
“It puts a smile on my face and goosebumps on my arms sometimes when I watch videos or see pictures; it’s a great memory and something that will stay with me for a lifetime as my first major win in endurance racing.”
How have you enjoyed the atmosphere within Bentley since you joined?
“It’s my home, it’s where I’m comfortable. They’re a great group of people, I love working with them and they’re a smaller group in the motorsport world compared to others but it’s a place that suits me well.
“I thrive with good connections with the team and relationships with people and that helps me to perform really well for the brand.
“I’m just enjoying my time here and working with Bentley on a great future and hopefully we can be around and at the front end for years to come.”
What are your thoughts on Pirelli’s role within sports car racing?
“Since I’ve stepped into GT3 racing I’ve always driven on Pirelli rubber so it’s a tire I’m really used to. I’ve seen their growth and development as a brand from 2015 all the way to now and like any manufacturer and anyone involved in motorsport there are ups and downs but Pirelli has really figured that out quickly.
“The people behind the name have shown a great will and determination to give us the best possible product to race on. I think we can all agree their tires are really awesome, we enjoy driving on Pirellis and dealing with such great people.
“There are so many familiar faces in the paddock that are passionate about their brand and that’s what makes IGTC and GT World Challenge such enjoyable series to be a part of.”
How have you been spending your time in quarantine?
“I think every driver has a COVID-19 story. Once I left the test I didn’t know how serious it was going to be and with my family so far away in South Africa, it was not really an option to go there before if work got back going again sooner than we thought I’d struggle to get back to Europe.
“The next best thing was to come to the UK and spend time with my girlfriend and her family and it’s been nice as she’s involved in motorsport too so we’ve been training together, etc.
“Bentley is obviously also based in the UK so if things get going the factory is nearby so we can get back to normality as soon as possible and that makes things good.
“As with a lot of drivers I’ve been heavily involved in sim racing and it’s had its ups and downs but I feel I will come out of this as a better driver overall.”