DUTCH ace Peter Kox is a driver with plenty of experience, to say the least.
From the British Touring Car Championship to Formula 3 and success at the LeMans 24 hours, the 47-year-old from Eindhoven clearly knows a bit about what makes the racing world tick. But, like so many superstar drivers, a trip to Bathurst has eluded the former BMW, Honda, McLaren and Aston Martin works driver – until now.
Kox was recently confirmed as a driver for Ted Huglin’s Consolidated Chemical Co. Racing Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 for the 2012 Armor all Bathurst 12 Hour and will join the car owner, V8 Supercar star Cameron McConville and the experienced Luke Searle in a strong four-driver line-up in the bright yellow Lambo.
Kox – now a works-supported driver for Reiter Engineering, the firm behind Lamborghini’s global GT racing programs – recently spoke to www.bathurst12hour.com.au following his debut on the Mountain at the recent Drive Bathurst Event and said he had the place earmarked as a ‘must do’ for some time.
“It’s a well known race track around the world and one you must do as a driver,” he said.
“There was a chance a few years ago that I could have driven there with Aston Martin and Prodrive, but it did not happen so I am delighted to get it done. The connection has come through Reiter Engineering who has been talking with this team for some time.”
Kox’s career began in karts in the late ‘70s, before taking the usual route through Formula Ford, Formula 3 and ultimately tasting some success in European F3000 racing. Unable to crack it for an F1 drive, Kox turned to the booming Touring Car scene in the 1990s and won in the Dutch series, and German Super Touring.
He was responsible for some of the development work on the famed, LeMans-winning McLaren GTR racer in the mid-90s, winning races in FIA GT competition before returning to Touring Cars as a works Honda driver in the BTCC.
Perhaps one of his highlights came in 2003, when he took a Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 Maranello to a class victory in the 24 Hours of LeMans, sharing the car with Briton Jamie Davies and Czech ace Tomas Enge. Since then he has been a ‘gun for hire’, driving for – amongst others – the works Aston Martin team at LeMans and Reiter’s Lamborghini project in the FIA GT series.
A fan of the GT format worldwide, Kox said his first look at the Mountain was a good warm-up for when he returns in three months time for the race itself.
“This weekend has been a practice run and it has been OK. I didn’t have a lot of running due to the type of event it is, and it’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. I’m getting up to the pace and have enjoyed it,” he said.
“Worldwide, GT racing is growing and pushing up. They are great cars, and easy to drive – especially for less experienced drivers. I am aware of the popularity of V8 Supercars around the world but for the budget you can run these cars and the performance they are capable of, there is nothing better.”
The small, closely-knit Huglin outfit may not have the budget or fancy setup of Kox’s Reiter team, but the Melbourne-based operation has a proud track record and a strong history of producing quick motor cars.
At his first look at the circuit Kox lapped Bathurst in the low 2m06-seconds bracket, matching the more experienced McConville and noting that there was time to come from the stunning V10-powered Italian supercar.
“The team is good. It’s a small team but we have gelled really well and have had no issues. I worked on setup as much as I could with my limited knowledge of the circuit and the car is good. I think we should have a shot at winning the race next year.
“We had a similar arrangement where I came in and helped a team at the Malaysia 12 Hour race and we had great success there (the team won) so we hope to be able to do something similar – it would be very nice to win Bathurst!”
Words: Richard Craill Image: Reiter Engineering.