Sean Edwards has made history in being the first ever FIA GT3 European Champion, with his two victories at Mugello securing it for him. He also won the Porsche class Championship and helped Tech 9 Motorsport to clinch the Constructors Championship! He is one of the youngest International Champions ever and his future is looking bright. He said “I cannot believe I have just won the FIA GT3 Championship! It’s such an amazing feeling and I don’t think it will fully sink in for a good few weeks yet.”
He secured the championship on his own, because he had two co drivers during the season. This was because Dimitris Deverikos had financial troubles in the later part of the season and was replaced by Phil Keen. Edwards said “It was a real shame to loose Dimitris, because we worked very well together and he got three second places with me, but Phil stepped in and did a great job, clinching three victories and helping me to the championships”
When asked about how Sean felt about being the first FIA GT3 Champion he said “It’s just such a great feeling, I can’t explain it really, but we came into this season thinking we could get some good results, but to win the championship in my first ever GT season is just fantastic! Everyone is so professional at Tech 9 and we all worked so well together and in the end it showed, with us taking all three championships available.”
Sean is looking to compete in either GT1, GT2 or maybe even the ultra competitive Porsche Supercup next season. He said “I seem to go well in Porsche’s, so it might be a good idea to try a one make series of Porsche’s, like Supercup. It’s one of the most competitive championships in the world and would be a great proving ground for me! I am open to do anything at the moment really, there is a chance to race GT2 in the new Porsche 997 RSR with Tech 9 next year, which would be great. GT1 and GT2 are viable options, but I will wait too see what offers come over the winter and make a decision after that.”
Testing went pretty well, although it was changing conditions we ended up 7th and 9th in both the sessions. We tried various different settings in the wet and tried to work on a race setup, as we thought it would be wet for the weekend!
Phil (Keen) drove the first qualifying session as he was slightly slower in practice. He went out about five minuets into the session, to try and set a time, the track was getting dryer and dryer each lap. We took the risk to send him out late and we very nearly got caught out as there were several red flags, meaning that with three minuets left on the clock, we did not even have a time in! So Phil had a 1 lap shot at quail and he did very well considering the circumstances, putting the car in p9 for race one.
I did the second qualifying as usual and went out immediately on wets to set a banker lap time. The team told me over the radio to pit for slicks, but I was hesitant at doing it as the track was still very damp! Nevertheless I came in a put slicks on, which proved to be the perfect time to do it. It took 3 laps for them to come up to temperature, which left me 3 laps to set good times and I was by far the fastest car on track. When the other cars slicks got up to temperature, the battle was on, with me and Claus Ludwig fighting for pole position in the dying moments of quail. I piped the multiple Le Mans and FIA GT winner by just 0.189 of a second to secure my first ever pole position in FIA GT3!
In race one, Phil had to start the car in 9th on the grid in the torrential rain and I mean monsoon conditions! He dropped a few places at the start because he just couldn’t see where he was going, but after two laps he started to push and before we knew it he was up to p9 again. Then he got up to p5 and then he caught the next bunch and got up to p2! He drove amazingly and caught the huge gap to the leading Ascari of Ben Collins, but couldn’t get past him due to the visibility. We decided to bring him in early and change over to me and try to get some clear track. I got in and noticed that he was not joking about there being no visibility! The windscreen was all misted up, so you couldn’t see a thing, add the spray of 40 odd GT3 cars and it was almost impossible to drive. The team came over the radio and said the leading Ascari is 20 seconds in front, I pushed hard and caught him up and passed him with ease. The Porsche was going great in the wet, even though it was aquaplaning at over 140mph in a straight line! I just tried to follow the white lines around the track and finish the race. I was loosening my belts down the straight to try and wipe the screen and had to lean over to try and see where the track was out of a little gap at the bottom of the windscreen!! Andy Thompson in another Ascari caught me slightly at the end, but I had it under control and came across the line to secure our second victory in a row! Even better news is that the championship leading Viper of Borhauser finished down in 8th position and the second place Viper finished in 3rd. This meant that I had taken over the lead of the FIA GT3 championship with 1 race to go!
I started race two in the best possible position, P1. All I had to do was finish in front of the 2nd and 3rd place Vipers and I would be champion. I got a good start and held the lead up to the first corner, but Claus Ludwig cut across me and took the lead! Only 3 corners later the hugely experienced driver threw it off into the gravel on his own and handed me back the lead! My team mate Paul made an awesome start and was up to P2 behind me and acted as a very nice cushion from the other cars. I put my head down and pulled a 3 second gap from Paul in a few laps, but Andy Thompson was on a charge, with his car working very well in the damp conditions. He caught me pretty quickly and I was not about to defend him and risk having a crash, after all I only needed to finish ahead of the Vipers, although it is always nice to win! I followed Andy for the rest of my stint, just keeping him in sight before coming into hand over to Phil. We had a good pit stop and Phil soon caught and passed the slower driver Allison in the Ascari. He then just took it easy out front, not taking any risks and keeping the gap at about 7 seconds. He crossed the line in first position just over 8 seconds clear of the Ascari, to give me victory in the overall driver’s championship and Porsche championship! Points from the other two cars in the team also provided all of us with the Constructors championship as well, which was amazing as it was almost impossible to win that coming into this round!
It was just a magical weekend with us getting Pole Position, two race wins and 3 championships! Everyone in the team worked so hard to achieve this goal and we did the clean sweep of everything.
I need to say a HUGE thank you to Tech 9 Motorsport, Phil Hindley, Dan, Ross, Phil Keen, Dimitris, all my family and main sponsor SG Hambros, as without any of these people this would not be possible. I really can’t thank these guys enough for this and I hope to have lots more success with the Tech 9 crew in the future.
Next year, who knows, I am open to do anything at the moment. The likely step would either be into GT1, GT2 or Porsche Supercup. I will wait and see what offers come my way and how it all pans out over the winter.
Sean Edwards, driver of the No. 9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 in the FIA GT3 European Championship discusses his last outing at Dijon – a weekend which would turn out to be his best of the year, with a breakthrough win in the second race of the weekend.
We came to Dijon knowing that it was going to be a struggle, as you need downforce at the track. So we were looking to score some good points. That was all we could hope for.
Testing went well as Phil (Keen) had never driven the track or car, so he did some slow laps in the first session learning both. I then got in the car at the end with a qualifying setup too see what time it could do and we ended up 2nd.
The second session we concentrated on race setup, trying to have consistent times. We drove for the whole hour on one set of tyres, changing drivers half way through. Due to that, we were down the order a bit (11th or so), but we had a good race pace of high 23’s/low 24’s.
Phil drove the first qualifying session as he was the slower driver in testing, but he really struggled to find a gap and set his fastest time on his 7th lap, when the new tyres had gone way past their best. It was still good enough for 10th on the grid (9th due to Anthony Reid’s blown engine forcing him to start from the back).
I did the second qualifying session and got a one free lap to begin with and did a 1.21.7, but the Motec was flashing fuel pressure warning. The team gave me one more lap to better my time and then come into the pits to park it, incase the engine got damaged! I managed to find a clear space and got a slightly better lap of 1.21.6, which was good for P2 at that time. As the session wore on I dropped down to P6, but we were at the sharp end nevertheless.
In Race One, Phil had to start as he was slower in qualifying and he made a great start from 9th to 6th in the first two laps! He couldn’t get past the Vipers ahead, so he just hung onto them for his stint. The Aston caught and passed him for 6th, so he dropped to 7th. He came into the pits and handed over to me. We were up to 3rd by the time everyone had pitted and got sorted out. But then we were told we had to serve a Stop/Go for being 0.7 tenth of a second too fast out of the pits! We couldn’t argue, but we lost thirty seconds dropping down to 10th overall (still the 1st Porsche). We had lost and chance to get decent points. The car was handling quite badly in the cooler conditions to cap it all off, with very bad understeer (running high 24’s low 25’s, a second off what we were doing in the testing stint). We wouldn’t have been able to hold 3rd place, but we worked out that we should have finished 5th, but the stop/go really hampered us.
In Race 2, we softened the front roll bar and lowered the front ride height to cure some of the understeer. I started the race and it was total chaos with a Viper jumping the start and taking out the Corvette beside me, which took out the Aston behind it, which took out another Viper! Luckily I managed to get through it and got up to 4th by the first corner. The safety car came out, as those 3 cars were in the pit wall. When it came back in, I got a good run on the championship leading Viper and was down the inside for the double left out the back, he squeezed me off the track, but I was not going to back out and went across the curb and down the inside on 2 wheels with a bit of contact! From then on I just defended like mad from him, as his car was a lot faster. We both caught the 2nd place Viper as I continued to block the Viper behind. We knew that the 2nd drivers in the Vipers were slightly slower and that Phil maybe could get past them.
I came into the pits at the last possible minute (34th minute) right behind the 2nd placed Viper and I handed over to Phil. We saw the chance to get past the Viper in the pits and hold him up at the end of pitlane (65 seconds mandatory in the pits, but nothing saying you can’t slow at the end of it for the time to run out, and other cars canno’t overtake you in the pits!). So he came out in 2nd place, but the Viper got back past him a lap later. Phil then got back past the Viper in the same lap again! He then caught the leading Viper and took about 4 laps to find a way past, but when he did he started to pull a bit of a lead. The Aston Martin was on a charge in 5th and soon made his way up into 2nd place with 3 laps to go. The traffic was holding us up bad, but Phil held them all at bay and finally crossed the line with a 2 second gap (With the win!).
In no way were we expecting to win a race here at Dijon, as the other cars ARE so much faster! But we did it finally and it’s great. Onto Mugello in two weeks for the championship showdown, the Porsche should go well there!
Furthermore, the Viper of Patrick Bornhauser was found to have illegal brakes and was disqualified from race one at Dijon and they raced under appeal in race two. Their points are strictly provisional, but we will try to beat them on track and not wait until the courts settle it.
Thanks to the whole Tech9 Motorsport team: Phil Hindley, Dan, Ross, Phil Keen, Guy and Daphne (my parents) and my main sponsor SG Hambros for this amazing weekend and victory! Everyone did a perfect job all weekend and we achieved the almost impossible, thanks again too everyone involved.