INTERVIEW: Auto talks to SA’s busy Bentley Boy Jordan Pepper
Intercontinental GT Challenge leader, South Africa’s Bentley Boy Jordan Pepper’s race season has just become even more hectic following his Bathurst 12 Hour team being confirmed for Spa 24 Hour, the Indianapolis 8 Hour and, most significantly, his home race Kyalami 9 Hour.
Auto’s Michele Lupini spoke to the Jozi race hero about his year so far and of sone stunning things to come…
ML: We hear that you’ve just had some very good news. Tell us more…
JP: Yes — I’m delighted to confirm that I will be driving a KPax Bentley Continental GT3 with my Bathurst 12-hour winning teammates Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet in both the Spa 24 Hour in October and the Indianapolis 8-hour in November. The three of us will also race a Continental GT in my home race Kyalami 9 Hour in December, which is brilliant news because we can now finish off the ICGT championship that we started with our win in Australia.”
ML: Your entry in the rest of the ICGT races this year was in balance after the factory team withdrew from the series – that must have been pretty nerve wracking?
JP: Tell me about it! But the two Bentley customer teams have now stepped in to make it happen, so we are right back in the hunt!
ML: You’ve been riding the crest of a wave racing around Europe since GT racing bounced back after lockdown — how has it gone for you so far?
JP: I’ve had six races in three series all over Europe in seven weeks since lockdown eased, with a mixed bag of results. It’s been absolutely crazy but also so enjoyable!
ML: One of those series has been the GT World Series Europe, where you have been pretty competitive, right?
JP: Yup — first up was at Imola in Italy, where we were on for a strong result for American Bentley team KPax in its Euro debut. Unfortunately we had contact and earned a drive-through penalty, so we left without any points. The second Euro GT round was last weekend — we started 19th and all three of us had an awesome race. My double first stint was among my best ever drives and I handed the car over in fourth! We ended up sixth out of a field of 50 in just KPax’s second race in Europe. Now we need to keep the momentum going there!
ML: Your German ADAC GT Masters campaign is a completely different challenge though – tell us more about that?,
JP: As a works driver my job is to nurture and guie that brand bew team through its first year, so it was always going to be a most interesting challenge in Masters this year. “We had a tough first race at Lausitzring and we were on the pace at the Nürburgring, but we had some issues in the races there. “It’s really gratifying to be able have a positive impact in this new Bentley team that’s on a steep learning curve, bit it’s really it’s coming along strong now.
ML: Some of us were surprised to learn that you shared a BMW M6 to eighth place in a Nordscheife VLN six-hour a couple of weeks ago. What’s that all about…?
JP: I will be racing that car in the Nurburgring 24 in two weeks time, so the 6-hour was a test run for that. The Nürby 24 is one of the greatest races I’ve ever driven so I’m delighted to be going back there with the hugely experienced privateer Walkenhorst BMW team. It’s going to be an interesting one for sure because most of our rivals will run Michelin tyres, but we will be on Yokohamas, which is a bit of an alternative strategy that we will use to our advantage…
ML: It’s been a very different year for all of us, but these six months of catch up are proving to be a bit of a rollercoaster for you — all we can do is watch from a distance until you come home for the 9 Hour and wish you the very best for the rest of the season.
JP: Thank you! Yes – it’s been a full season since we started racing again and it’s getting busier — I even have to miss the GT Masters round at the Sachsenring that clashes with Indy, which is a pity. But I am really enjoying racing at the moment — and most important of all, flying the South African flag high!”