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Challenger Programme

Challenger Interview: A chat with racing driver Jody Fannin

In this interview, we get to know Jody: from his progression through the karting circuit to how he became a racing driver, along with his motivations and goals for 2018 (and, of course, his favourite CW!).

CW: What do you do and what has been your journey so far?
JF: I am a racing driver. I started karting in 2005 aged 11 and have been racing ever since. I started at Buckmore Park Kart Circuit in Chatham, Kent, and won their junior championship at my first attempt. It was the race director there who said I should move into club karting, which would mean investing in our own equipment! I karted successfully for a further 4 years at club and national level before moving into car racing at 16 in 2010; I was racing cars on track before I could drive on the road!

I finished as top rookie in the 2010 Ginetta Junior championship with two wins before moving into GT Racing, and then onto British GT where I won the British GT4 Championship in 2012, being unbeaten except for when we had a couple of mechanical issues. That led on to racing in the GT3 category for 2013 for JRM who build the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 race cars. That year was the first time I competed in a long distance race, at the Spa 24 Hours. I did the “graveyard shift” between 4am and 6am, racing in the dark, which was an amazing experience – there’s nothing like it! I raced in various championships over the next few years, mainly racing Aston Martins as part of their young driver programme, before racing a Ferrari 488 GTE in the European Le Mans Series in 2017, which I won.

The highlight of 2017, and what really kick started our push for the title, was winning at Monza. It was also my first race there so it was even sweeter. Winning in Italy in a Ferrari is such a fairy tale and we were up against a bunch of newer cars too so it was unexpected – we were very much the underdog. It was also the last race for the car as we would be getting a new Ferrari 488 GTE for the rest of the year.

Alongside all this, I am also a racing driver coach so I spend my time travelling to all sorts of circuits around the UK and Europe!

CW: What inspired you to take up racing?
JF: It all started through my Dad (who got his inspiration from his Dad!) as he has always been into motor racing, be it 2 or 4 wheels, so I grew up watching all types of motorsport from a very young age. He was into Le Mans/sports car racing, and after my first visit to the Le Mans 24 hour race aged 7, I was hooked. Formula 1 is obviously brilliant, but there’s something about the tactical and teamwork aspect of endurance racing that really drew me in. Becoming a racing driver was always my goal.

CW: After your win in The European Le Mans Series, what’s next?
JF: A season long programme for 2018 fell through at the last minute due to the project being postponed. So while I regroup I am going to get my Nurburgring Nordschleife racing licence and do some races there (it’s the longest permanent race track in the world at over 20km per lap!).

For my career as a whole, to become world champion is the ultimate goal; that would be in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) for my area of motorsport. To win the Le Mans 24 Hours would come pretty close though; it is the biggest race in the world (and is also part of the WEC). I have been to watch the race 15 times, and everything about it is just magic. Racing through the night is an amazing experience, and to race there would be a privilege.

CW: Are you ever afraid when racing?
JF: I think everyone gets nervous in one way or another before a big event, in my case a race, but once the race starts there’s no time to be nervous or worried; adrenaline takes over and you concentrate on the job in hand. I think if you allow yourself to be scared by anything when racing then you won’t ever be quick enough. You will never allow yourself to push to the limits if there’s something in the back of your head that’s telling you something bad could happen at any moment.

CW: What does a typical day look like for you?
JF: If I’m not at a track racing myself, I can usually be found at one coaching other drivers; I just can’t keep away! They can be long days, getting up very early in the morning to go to a track, or going up the night before as they’re usually at least a couple of hours from where I live (the perils of living in the South East!).

I work out 5/6 days a week in my gym at home (a wooden structure in the back garden) the stints in the car can be long, up to 2 or 3 hours at a time, it’s important to have good endurance.

CW: What made you enter Christopher Ward’s Need For Speed competition?
JF: I found out about the competition from a post on Twitter and thought I fitted the bill of what Christopher Ward were looking for. The values of Christopher Ward and their journey in the watch world resonated with me and my journey through Motorsport; taking a different approach to the mainstream and making it work. It is also a privilege to be associated with the CW brand, one that’s going from strength to strength.

CW: Which CW watch have you chosen and why?
JF: It obviously has to be from the motorsport range! I think the C7 Rapide Chronograph Quartz with white watch face has to be my favourite, not just because it’s got some red in it (my favourite colour) but the placement of the two dials inside the main face make it look a bit like a speedo from a car. And I’d have to go for the black leather strap too as the colours compliment the face.

CW: How do you hope the CW Challenger Programme will help you?
JF: Being able to get my public profile raised is a big draw. Having access to non-motorsport media will help immensely in getting my name out there, and people who would otherwise not know about me and what I do, suddenly become aware. In the media-centric world we live in nowadays, that would in turn help me become more attractive to sponsors, and help to further my career. It just so happens that Christopher Ward make awesome watches too!

CW: Describe your driving in three words?
JF: Smooth, precise, consistent.

CW: If you could race against a driver from any generation who would it be and why?
JF: I would like to race someone from a different era, maybe as far back as the 50s or 60s, just to see the different skillsets and if they could be applied to modern machinery, and vice versa. There’s no doubt that the techniques required to drive a modern car with lots of grip and sticky slick tyres is very different to back then. Maybe someone like Stirling Moss. It would be very interesting and educational I’m sure!

My Morgan Experience
Jody spends the day at the Morgan Motor Company factory in Malvern, Worcestershire to celebrate the launch of Christopher Ward’s C1 Morgan Plus 8 Limited Edition Chronometer.

There’s More to Motorsport than F1
Jody explains why he loves sports car and endurance racing and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Challenger Interview: A chat with racing driver Jody Fannin
In this interview we get to know Jody: from his progression through the karting circuit to how he became a racing driver, along with his motivations and goals for 2018 (and, of course, his favourite CW!).

Introducing Jody Fannin
One of two winners of our ‘Need for Speed’ competition, we introduce Jody for the first time. Discover Jody’s exciting story here.