Talbot’s rise crowned at SRO awards

AUSTRALIA’S latest international racing champion says his formal crowning as this year’s Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Am’ champions was a ‘humbling experience’.

Liam Talbot and Kessel Racing co-drivers Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin were formally recognised as the Enduro Cup’s Am class Champions at the SRO Night of the Champions held in London last weekend.

Despite forgoing the traditional path to becoming a race car driver – his career didn’t begin until after the age of 30 and has come without the usual Karting background – Talbot has rapidly forged his place as top-of-the-class in the ultra-competitive Blancpain Series.

His season included class victory in the Spa 24 Hours race, held in late July this year.

“For me It’s quite humbling, given my relatively small experience compared to everyone else, to compete the biggest GT series in world,” Talbot told bathurst12hour.com.au.

“It was a tough season and after Silverstone, where we had a DNF, we had a tech issue at Monza and finished sixth. I looked at the results after that and didn’t think that (this year) was a keeper.”

After the early season disappointment, Talbot said a change of approach benefited the second half of the year.

“After that we went out with no pressure. We went ‘our season is done, it will be what it will be’ and gave it maximum every time.

“We put a brand new engine in for Paul Ricard and broke it in there instead of using it at Spa. It was a strong engine and in that race we used strategy to get to the front. At the time it looked insignificant but as it unfolded in the race it worked out in our favor and we took the lead with 20 minute to go.

“After Spa we had won 30 hours of racing so that was a pretty good accomplishment!”

After competing in Australia in the early stages of his career, Talbot took to Europe last year to challenge himself against he most competitive GT grid on the planet.

“24 months in Blancpain been has a learning curve for me, coming from Australian GT in it’s infancy with GT3 cars,” he explained.

“In Blancpain everyone is driving 10/10ths achieving amazing lap times and it was a very big eye opener for me: I knew my level but found it humbling. I went back to drawing board with data do everything I could to improve, get behind the wheel and improve.

“My goal is to become the best non-professional driver out there.”

A former class winner at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour – he won Class C sharing a Lotus Exige on debut in 2013 – Talbot admits his 12-hour plans are yet to firm for next February’s race.

“Not sure what’s going to happen – I Have some offers,” he admitted.

“I want it to be competitive, be a good team, drivers and crew.

“I think it’s fantastic that we get the recognition in Australia,” he added of Australia’s ever-expanding GT scene.

“We have an amazing track in Bathurst but also an amazing driver talent pool. I think it’s fantastic to highlight Australia as a serious motorsport destination.

“The 12hr getting insane – it’s always been difficult to win but with all-professional teams and factory involvement it’s huge.”