By Martin Walsh
AHEAD of yet another hectic motor racing season Ballincollig’s Matt Griffin is also preparing for the future as he outlined at the Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
Speaking to The Southern Star he said, ‘Even this weekend is a bit of a gear change for me insofar as Ferrari have started a new UK Challenge series and I am involved in it from a non-driving side, more of a management angle and the management side of the drivers that will compete in the eight-round series.
There will be 25 of them, all amateur, so it’s an exciting prospect for me and something that I am interested in when I am finished racing. When Ferrari ask you to so something you never say no.’
Griffin was one of many motorsport stars at the show where the World Rally Championship was launched on the Saturday morning. Meanwhile, he outlined his own racing season.
‘I will continue with the World Endurance Championship (WEC) including the 24 Hour Le Mans with Clearwater Racing, the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) with the Spirit of Race outfit and the International GT Open series with AF Corse, all with Ferrari of course and that strengthens my link with the brand,’ Griffin said.
He explained the concept of the UK Challenge series.
‘It is aimed at amateur drivers all in Ferrari 488’s. It’s a four-round championship and while there is a European challenge, this is the first time there is one in the United Kingdom. It’s important, as the UK is the second biggest market worldwide for Ferrari. Very much an entry level and it’s a customer-based experience,’ he said.
On the cost factor, Griffin revealed: ‘Everyone racing has to buy their own car (€300,000) and fund the championship (probably around €200,000) themselves. It’s an opportunity for Ferrari enthusiasts to go racing.
‘Luckily, within Ferrari a lot their clients are wealthy and it’s a fantastic way for them to explore their passion. The age profile is very wide. I met one person today who is 22 and another who is 50 and both of them are going racing. Everybody is linked by the passion that is within Ferrari.’
Griffin explained that while he will be doing some coaching, his job really is ensuring the clients get what they want out of the experience. It dovetails nicely with his racing.
‘My main programme all the time is being a professional racing driver but this is a fantastic opportunity, not just for this year but as I get older I will be racing less at the level (highest) I am at now. It’s an exciting opportunity. All my experiences in motorsport have been good,’ he said.
Griffin oozes motorsport and was the first person to apply to Motorsport Ireland for a 2019 competition licence.
‘My experiences in life are from motorsport and it’s been good to me. I have about six or seven years left at the top level as a driver and if I can dovetail this activity alongside that then I will have a longer career in motorsport.’
Griffin’s first race of the season is at the Sebring circuit in America in March with Clearwater Racing where he will be joined by Argentinian Luis Perez-Companc and Italian Matteo Cressoni.