The story of Nicolas Armindo deciding to hang up his helmet, largely due to the “discriminatory” policies of driver ratings and Balance of Performance that has ridden sports car racing in recent years got to me. He decided to stop fighting the system and quit as a pro driver. It got me on a personal level, after I raced with him in the GT1 World Championship. I am always pursuing my dream as a racing driver trying to make a decent living from my job. Yes, it is a full time job. I work hard to find sponsors, organise racing events and at the same time be super fit to always be the best I can be on track. You work for many years to find your way up the ladder and finally arrive to be a pro and live from the sport.
It got me and I started thinking about pursuing your dreams versus fighting the system of driver ratings and BoP. Teams nowadays in many series are looking for fast silver drivers and even pay them, the system makes all teams look for the best possible silver driver in the line-up, I don’t blame the teams. We all want to be successful and you need to get the best line-up in the driver rating system to be successful. It is becoming more and more political to get results and find the “false” silver and possible bronze driver versus cold speed from team and drivers together. We are not fighting on track but fighting to get the right driver rating.
As a gold rated driver I often need to fight for seats against factory (supported) drivers who get deals done easier, since private teams want to have a good relation with their manufacturer and often these drivers are also financially supported by the manufacturer. The strange thing here is that these championships are based on customer racing, which maybe counts for teams, but on the driver side, I am fighting for seats that are often taken by factory drivers, since the manufacturer pushes for them to get the seat, within the relationship with the team and offer a better package.
I am not here to complain about the situation. But it is something to think about and I know I am not the only driver with these things on my mind. It is good to address the situation and to look for a solution for the future. From my personal viewpoint, my wish is there would be a difference between platinum and gold drivers. These two categories are often viewed as the same. However factory (platinum) drivers often get way more seat time racing in multiple championships and they still have the same rating as a gold driver. If it is truly about customer racing, there should be a difference between gold and platinum, like there is between gold and silver.
What I see for myself is that I am blindly following my dream. And I believe you should always follow your dreams and passion in life, something I believe more people should do and I hope I can inspire them to do so. But with times it is hard and I have the feeling I am swimming against the current. It just made me open my eyes and see that it is not always easy to follow my dream and that at times I want to give up. What can I do to get more in the flow? What can I do to change my future? I choose for now to stay in the game, follow my passion and try to deal with the system. It won’t be easy, but if it were too easy it would not be fun. I hope for the future and that the “discriminatory” policies of driver ratings and Balance of Performance will get better, at least I hope my blog can make a difference to series organisers to start thinking about policies to avoid factory drivers in customer racing.