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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Leo Machitski

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring GT World Challenge Europe driver Leo Machitski…

Photo: Leo Machitski

Leo Machitski has been a regular fixture in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS for a number of years with a handful of wins to his name in the Am Cup, including the 2018 24 Hours of Spa.

The Russian driver competes for Barwell Motorsport in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and has won the 2018 and 2019 Am Cup titles.

He is now awaiting the start of the delayed 2020 racing season with GTWC Europe scheduled to host its first round at Imola from July 25-26.

How have you been spending your time in quarantine?

“I did a lot of sim racing. I tried to keep myself physically occupied – some workouts and mainly have been kind of lazy sitting around and waiting.”

How has it been working with Barwell Motorsport in GT World Challenge Europe the last few seasons?

“Amazing! I’ve been racing for the team for a long time. I started my racing career with Barwell and come back to them later. It’s a family and friends situation which is extremely comfortable for me. Mark Lemmer is a close friend of mine and I’m very much enjoying racing for Barwell.”

What does it mean to you to you as a Russian driver to look back on the success you’ve had?

“I always remember when I came from. I grew up in Russia and then in England, then I started my racing career in England and after all again moved back to Russia. After the success we had with Barwell and Lamborghini I’m very conscious of a fact that I’m a Russian driver, not a European.

“I could choose to race under a British flag, but I choose to do it under the Russian flag. I’m quite enjoying the success I’ve had and very proud that I can achieve those things wearing the Russian flag.”

Do you have a moment in your career so far that stands out as your favorite?

“I think Spa 24 Hours in 2018. The race was very favorable to us and at every decision, strategic decision, or one that was affected by luck we were so fortunate that I think we ended up winning the race by something like 4-5 laps.

“It wasn’t just a stroke of luck, it was obviously that everybody in the team doing their jobs correctly – the engineers, the mechanics, and the drivers staying out of trouble. You know, that particular moment when things go wrong – they go wrong, and everything that can potentially go right – went right.

“That’s very unusual in Motorsports so I’m very much thankful for that gift from above and I think that certainly stayed in my mind. 

“And another one – which is not the best but the most intense. Last year Barcelona 24h race, when we battled with a Porsche and the lead changed 38 times and we won the race in the end.

“That was also the first 24h overall win for Lamborghini. And obviously winning the race by 10s after 24 hours it was a true nail-biter.”

Are there any pro drivers you have raced with who have had an influence on your driving and in what way?

“I’ve been racing for quite a while so it’s kind of hard to remember everybody I raced with. I think it’s over 50 drivers.

“But I think the Pro drivers like Marco Mapelli, Phil Keen, Patrick Kujala, and Dennis Lind – they are all influenced my driving and affected my driving style for sure.”

What’s your take on racing resuming over the next few weeks and how is your program shaping up?

“We are looking to do a Pro-Am GT World Challenge Europe entry. We are just finalizing the deal with drivers to confirm our lineup. I’m very much looking forward to race again after all those travel restrictions.

“I can’t really say anything about how it’s gonna go, because only God knows how it works out in terms of travel restrictions.”

Are you looking to branch out in the future at all and tick off any major races outside of Europe?

“Yes, there are certainly some races in my bucket list. I’m absolutely would love to do Le Mans one day, which is still in Europe but obviously one of the majors.

“Also, I would like to do Bathurst 12h, that looks very interesting, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for it yet in terms of traveling and things like that. And I’m also possibly looking at to do some races in the Middle East.”

What are your thoughts on Pirelli’s role within sports car racing?

“I think they are taking over substantially as a main supplier most of the GT series around the world. They are growing, developing and getting better and better.”

Photo: Leo Machitski

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