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Jody Firth : Murphy Prototypes ambitions…

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On the reserve list of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Murphy Prototypes will enter a MG-ORECA 03 in the European Le Mans Series. With a lineup composed by Jody Firth and experienced driver Warren Hughes, the Irish team will have an ace up their sleeve. Jody Firth, winner of two Le Mans Series races in 2011, tells us his impressions.

Jody, how do yo feel before the start of the season ?
As the season draws closer the more excited I am becoming. The reason for this is that I know I have joined the correct team.  I can already feel a good sense of camaraderie within the team, which is typical of a Northern UK team. Again, that synergy has helped me feel right at home. I am very confident in the staff that Team RLR have, their presentation levels and engineering expertise shown through during 2011. Greg Murphy has invested a lot of time and effort in creating what will be a front running team. He will also be bringing a new type of technology to the European Le Mans Series grid in that he strives to become carbon neutral. This will be down to his involvement in Biofuels,  3rd Generation Solar energy and Turbines for Hydro, all of which will play a part in the campaign this year.

You will be racing with Warren, like during the past few years. What can you say about your collaboration?
I have known Warren Hughes a long time now. He was a previous employee of Embassy Racing where I was team manager so we have worked closely together. However, our driver partnership only began in 2009 and since then we have been extremely successful in every category we have been in. We have won two championships together with a very high wins to race ratio. This teammate’s relationship has blossomed into a close friendship and we often spend time together away from the race circuit now.  Due to Warren’s vast experience he has been able to teach me many things from simply just driver fast to learning how to manage fuel and tyres which is so key in endurance races.

You also already know the ORECA 03
I do know it very well having competed in this car during last year campaign in the Le Mans Series. It allowed us to win two races (one of which was the ILMC 1000kms of Spa), set several pole positions and finished 3rd in the teams championship. What impresses me the most about the 03 is how driver friendly the car is, both from a cockpit point of view but also driving. The chassis has many components on that allow the driver and engineer to tne the car to any given track and condition, but still gives the driver confidence to push to the ultimate limit. These interchangeable components also come with a win win bonus. Often, especially with Le Mans prototype cars, you can change something to benefit speed or endurance but they come with some sort of penalty in that this may work the tyre harder or having a larger aerodynamic drag coefficient, but with the 03 you go faster and look after the car more! Something that is very unique. I am very much looking forward to driving the 2012 specification 03, designed to accommodate new rule changes, as I know the ORECA design team will have got the changes just right.

What will be your aim ?
My goal for this year European Le Mans Series is to win races and ultimately fight for the championship. I wouldn’t have said yes to drive for Murphy Prototypes if I didn’t think that it was possible with this team. After all, I am going for my fourth championship in as many years, and I would hate to break the winning streak! It is nice to see that LMP2 has become the premier class in the ELMS and this means that we will be fighting for outright wins. This helps with TV coverage, gaining sponsorship etc. The fact that LMP1 is no longer racing within the championship has not detracted from the championship in any way. This is demonstrated by the fact that there are some high quality drivers and teams present in the championship. Whilst there aren’t any direct manufacturer teams in the championship (as this isn’t allowed in the sporting regulations), they are very much assisting teams as they know this is a very professional platform to showcase their products.

What do you expect for this new season ?
As I previously mentioned, the competition will be fierce as the teams and drivers involved are of a very high standard. Within every team entered there is a good quality that makes them a potential race winner. The tracks we will visit this year are real driver circuits and will be demanding for the engineers to tune their cars to each track, this is something the ORECA will cope with very well.