Nick Tandy – from the Porsche one-make series to Le Mans victory
With his victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the Porsche 919 Hybrid, Nick Tandy has done his job brilliantly. On the trip home through the Eurotunnel, his wife Brittany staged a victory photo for the family album. Somewhere under the English Channel between Calais and Folkestone, she arranged the trophy on a seat and sat her daughter Eva in front of it. But the eleven-month-old whirlwind did not really do what her mother wanted. She quickly crawled away, then cheekily turned her back on the camera and raced into her father’s arms.
“I’m not surprised. She doesn’t understand what has happened over the last days and how significant it is for us all,” explained Nick Tandy with understanding for his young child’s obvious disinterest. “And to be totally honest – it hasn’t really sunk in with me either. I can only say that it’s a great feeling to come home with this trophy.”
At some point before the Eurostar reached its destination in England they managed to snap the shot and shortly afterwards posted it on social media. Sharing the greatest triumph in his racing career in this endearing way with his friends all over the world is typical of Nick Tandy. The 30-year-old Briton, who had won the world’s most famous long distance race with Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Nico Hülkenberg (Germany), is not someone who blows his own trumpet. He prefers to show what he can do on the race track with action – just like at Le Mans recently.
Nick Tandy has not forgotten his roots. He grew up on a farm in Pavenham, in a small village in county Bedfordshire. The rural setting and the people there have influenced him. Nick Tandy still lives nearby and, when time allows, he helps his parents on the farm and at harvesting time. But motor racing was always his passion. He celebrated his first success as the British champion of the Short Oval Stock Cars (1999 and 2000) and in the Mini Se7en Championship (2003). Notching up eleven victories, he won the BRDC Single Seater Series in 2005. As the winner of the Silverstone Scholarship he scored second the following year in the hotly-contested British Formula Ford Championship and third in 2007 – with an impressive six victories and 16 podium results. That same year he also clinched victory at the Formula Ford Festival.
The avid golfer and mountain biker’s first encounter with Porsche was in 2008 as a guest driver in the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain. At his first race he clinched his first victory – and he was hooked. In 2010, he tackled the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland where he claimed runner-up honours in both series. “It was great fun driving the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in this very competitive brand trophy series,” recalls Nick Tandy. “It was the type of racing that I’d always wanted to do. The cars are all identical which puts the onus firmly on the driver. That’s pure motor racing.”
After winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland in 2011 and the prestigious Porsche Cup in 2012 as the best private Porsche driver worldwide in a 911, he was contracted as a works driver. “I have always dreamed of this,” he said at the time. “It’s fantastic to feel so much trust. I will always do my very best to maintain this trust.” And so he began: He took off into the 2013 season with third place at the Sebring 12-hour classic with the Porsche 911 RSR. He followed up with a GT-class victory at the Budapest round of the European Le Mans Series and celebrated one of his greatest successes with the GT-win at Petit Le Mans on the demanding and storied Road Atlanta circuit. Another highlight followed at the 2014 season-opener when he also won his class at the Daytona 24-hour race with the 911 RSR. When Porsche gave several of its GT works drivers the chance to test the innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid, Nick Tandy grabbed it. His impressive performance earned him a seat in the third entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Every race driver dreams of such a cockpit,” he said after his promotion into the premier class of endurance racing. “It’s awesome how you’re noticed and supported in the worldwide Porsche motorsport family. Now I’ll do my utmost to prove that a good GT driver can also be a successful LMP1 pilot.”
And impressively, Nick Tandy did exactly that. One of his teammates with whom he fulfilled the dream of winning the toughest automobile race in the world, also received the finishing touch to his career in Porsche’s brand trophy series: Earl Bamber. As a reward for winning a junior selection process of the most talented one-make race drivers worldwide, Porsche gave the New Zealander the chance to contest the international Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in 2014 and provided him with a budget of 200,000 Euro for his campaign. In the flagship series of Porsche’s one-make cups, which is run as support to the Formula 1 races, the Porsche Junior again demonstrated his prowess and promptly clinched the title. In the Carrera Cup Asia, Bamber defended his title from the previous year. At his maiden race with the Porsche 911 RSR, he snatched second at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, one of the long distance classics in the USA.
“We are all very proud of Earl and Nick. Their victory at Le Mans is yet another example of the success and the effectiveness of the Porsche youth development concept,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser. “And it also underlines the importance of Porsche’s brand trophy series as a career stepping stone for young race drivers who, like Earl and Nick, bring the necessary talent, a great willingness to learn and the critical will to succeed. Porsche opens all doors to those who are really fast.”
Nick Tandy now rejoins LMP2 victors KCMG for the remaining five races of the 2015 World Endurance Championship, where he will endeavour to assist the Hong Kong team and his British teammates Matt Howson and Richard Bradley to the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams and Drivers. However Nick Tandu already has something that only a select handful of drivers have managed to achieve since 1923, an overall winners trophy from the 24 Hours of Le Mans!