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Charlie Eastwood gearing up for big days as first child expected before touted Le Mans return

 

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Happy couple: Charlie Eastwood and fiancée Cat Scott are expecting a baby in July

Happy couple: Charlie Eastwood and fiancée Cat Scott are expecting a baby in July

Charlie Eastwood on board his Aston Martin Vantage

Charlie Eastwood on board his Aston Martin Vantage

Happy couple: Charlie Eastwood and fiancée Cat Scott are expecting a baby in July

Like every other sportsman, Charlie Eastwood is finding the Covid-19 shutdown frustrating but at least he has two important dates to focus on.

 

The Aston Martin World Endurance Championship driver from Belfast is isolating in England with his pregnant fiancée Cat Scott and he is looking forward to becoming a dad for the first time in July.

He is also pinning his hopes on returning to the big daddy of long distance racing, the Le Mans 24 Hours, which has been switched from its traditional June date to September.

"We are both fine at the moment but Cat has just 10 weeks to go before her due date so we are having to be careful," says Charlie.

"We haven't been able to get back to Belfast to see our parents but we are keeping busy and taking it a day at a time."

Keeping busy in Charlie's case is maintaining his fitness, crucial in endurance racing, and spending hours on his race simulator. In fact, he has emerged as one of the top 'virtual' racers in the UK and has turned it into a business.

"The whole e-racing thing has exploded worldwide - even the big manufacturers are becoming involved," explains the 24-year-old.

"Like nearly every other driver, I've been using my sim to prepare for races for ages now but last year I began exploring it a bit deeper and saw the possibility of developing it as a business opportunity. It is going well at the moment."

And life was going great for the former World karting champion and British Porsche Carrera champion before the virus brought everything to a halt.

He had won his first World Endurance series race in the LMGTE division in Japan alongside his TF Sport team-mates Jonny Adam and Salih Yoluc and they followed up by winning again in China of all places before consolidating their championship lead with a dramatic victory at the Circuit of the Americas in the United States.

He was also part of the Oman Racing squad which clinched the pro-am title in the Blancpain European GT series.

In between, Eastwood was rewarded with a full works contract by Aston Martin and got engaged to Cat. He was on top of the world, especially when, shortly after returning from Texas in late February, they discovered Cat was expecting a baby. But by then, coronavirus was taking hold and all motorsport came to a halt.

"We were on a roll at the time, the Aston Martin Vantage was really competitive and the guys at TF Sport were doing a superb job," he adds.

"We were looking forward to carrying our momentum through to the remaining races and were confident we could win the LMGTE title.

"But now we just have to wait and see what happens. Provisionally, the plan is to restart with the Six Hours of Spa in August and then move on to Le Mans in September.

"I don't think the FIA wanted the teams to start cold at Le Mans. It is such a big and challenging race so they have slotted in Spa to get things rolling again.

"But it is going to be difficult after such a long break and this is where the simulators can play a big part.

"The plan is to simulate a whole race week, from prologue to free practice, to qualifying and the race."

And while he waits to get back behind the wheel for real, Eastwood is intent on keeping up his fitness regime.

"The difference for us, unlike, say, footballers or golfers who can go out to the back garden and kick a ball or swing a club, we can't strap ourselves into 200mph car and get that adrenalin rush again.

"The team have given us a fitness and diet programme to follow which includes specifically working on our neck muscles. This is an area which is so important to combat the G-forces and not, I imagine, what other sports people have to think too much about."

Charlie imagines, if racing does get back up and running again in August, it could be a very different picture.

"With the huge hit the world economy has taken, you wonder how many of the teams that were in Texas in February will be able to continue. Motorsport is so expensive and so dependent on sponsorship, I'm sure some won't be back.

"We've been assured Aston Martin plan to carry on so that's reassuring - especially with a new baby on the way!"

And a wedding maybe?

"That will have to wait for a while, ideally next summer when our families can all get together again."

Belfast Telegraph