Belfast Telegraph

Meet the Belfast man preparing to make the step up to motorsport's world stage

 

By Sammy Hamill

Belfast will have another motorsport star competing on the world stage in 2018.

He has plenty of pedigree behind him too as British Porsche Carrera Cup champion Charlie Eastwood prepares to make the step up.

The 22-year-old Belfast man has signed up to drive in the World Endurance Championship with the TF Sport team and will share an Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey for the eight-round series, which starts with a six-hour race at Spa in Belgium in May.

Eastwood, a former Rotax World karting champion, completed a scholarship with Porsche by winning the 2017 Carrera Cup GB in the final round at Brands Hatch in October.

The big question for him was what next?

The European Porsche Supercup was an option for him, but now he has revealed he is switching to Aston Martin and the GTE-Am category in the worldwide endurance series, which TF Sport are tackling for the first time after finishing second in the European Le Mans Championship in 2017.

"It's going to be a big challenge to step up to what is the top in GT racing," said Eastwood.

"I met with Tom Ferrier and some of the guys in the TF Sport team five weeks ago for the first time and it was a great meeting. It really kick-started the talks and the Friday before Christmas it was all confirmed.

"It's great to know so far in advance what you're doing for the coming season, and with Tom's amazing record with TF Sport and the driver combination we have, we're all buzzing and raring to go."

The WEC superseries, which stretches into 2019, will see Eastwood race at Le Mans as well as China, Japan and the USA.

"There are a lot of unknowns for all of us obviously, but we're looking forward to the challenge. I know Silverstone and Le Mans and we're planning on a good test programme. So as a team we all have the same desire," said Eastwood.

Eastwood, who will be the team's silver category driver behind gold standard Hankey, said he can't wait to get started but is under no illusions about how difficult his step up will be.

"I've never done a pitstop, never done a driver change and I've never been in a car for more than one hour so there's going to be new experiences," he added.

"I'm coming off the back of winning a championship, and this opportunity has popped up because it's difficult to get a champion who is a silver driver.

"Everyone knows it's a steep learning curve, and I don't have to set the world alight straight away, but hopefully I can get a good feel for the car in pre-season testing."

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