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Carroll is aiming to power ahead in electric mission

By Sammy Hamill

He was said to be the next Ulster driver to follow in the footsteps of John Watson, Kenneth Acheson, Martin Donnelly and Eddie Irvine and take the step up to Formula One. But it never happened for Adam Carroll.

Instead he has become the ultimate journeyman, racing in everything from GP2 to Indycars, sportscars - including Ferraris and Lamborghinis - to mighty German touring cars. He did sample F1 as a Honda test driver and, of course, won the A1GP Championship for Team Ireland.

But then Carroll has been successful in virtually every branch of racing he has contested, even though his opponents have been the likes of Nelson Piquet Jnr, Lewis Hamilton and new F1 World champion Nico Rosberg. He was deemed to be as good as any of them but just didn't have the right connections or the financial backing to climb the greasy slope to F1.

Now Carroll has embarked on a new phase of his career in the world of electric racing and, two races into his first season with the Panasonic Jaguar team in the FIA Formula E series, he says it is one of the most challenging things he has ever done in motorsport.

"There is so much to learn, both for myself and the team," he explained. "We have started virtually from scratch and are competing against teams with up to two years more experience of these cars. It is totally new technology and it will take time to get up to speed.

"Formula E is more tactical and technical than almost any other form of racing. But it is highly competitive, exciting racing just the same. Yes, you have to balance the speed of the car - how you accelerate, how you brake - against the drain on the battery, but out on the track it is still man and machine trying to win races."

And winning is something Carroll has done ever since he headed off to France on an Elf scholarship aged just 15. His whole adult life has been spent racing cars in all parts of the world but now, just turned 34, he has his first contract with a full factory-backed team.

Despite missing out on F1 opportunities - "I came close on at least two occasions but that's all in the past now" - Carroll has earned his living as a go-to driver for a host of teams in all forms of racing, currently mixing Formula E with his role with the Gulf Porsche team in the World Endurance Championship.

He's a sought-after driver coach, too, and has recently worked with up and coming fellow Ulsterman Charlie Eastwood, rookie champion in the UK Porsche Carrera Cup series.

Racing is what he does best, although it seems he also has a talent for DIY, proudly showing off iPhone pictures of the re-claimed parquet flooring he laid throughout the ground floor of the Portadown home he shares with wife Claire and their two children, Niomi and Elijah.

He talks enthusiastically, too, about the Formula E and Jaguar project having been a fan of the classic British marque since he was a schoolboy.

"Within 10 years we could all be driving electric cars, and the technology which is being developed for the racing cars is feeding into the road cars of the future," he said.

"It is early days yet but Formula E is growing and being showcased in places like the waterfront in Hong Kong and the streets of Marrakech where racing cars have never been allowed before. We can go there - and to New York, Paris, Buenos Aires - because these cars are so eco-friendly.

"But they are fast, too, and the racing is just as competitive as anything I have done before. The drivers are all top notch, people like Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet Jnr who have come from F1."

Carroll admits he, and his young Kiwi team-mate Mitch Evans, have struggled in the first two races but says there is so much to learn about electric racing.

"Not to get too technical about it, but if I'm supposed to use 1.6 kilowatts per lap and I use 1.7, I can go a second a lap quicker but the battery won't last unless I can find some way to save power or regenerate the battery by lifting off the throttle early or by braking late," he said.

"But at the same time I'm trying to race the car in front and the one behind so it is difficult. It will take time for myself and Mitch to adapt and for the engineers to get the maximum out of the whole package, but I think we are learning quickly as a team and would hope to be pushing for podiums as the season progresses."

Presently enjoying a pre-Christmas holiday with his family in Dubai, next up for Carroll and the Jaguar team is Argentina and the Buenos Aires street circuit in February where his target will be a top-six place as a minimum.

"I know I can race these guys - it is just a matter of time and experience," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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