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Interview with Chris van der Drift

Besides the fact that he is an extremely talented and friendly racing driver, there is another fact that makes you think of Chris van der Drift; his horrifying crash during the Superleague Formula at Brands Hatch this season. Luckily, Van der Drift is quite healthy again and already looking forward to the 2011 season. Hopefully, the young guy from New Zealand is able to add some more titles to his palmares in the coming seasons, after winning the title in International Formula Master in 2008. RacingInside.com spoke to Chris van der Drift in an exclusive interview.

Chris van der Drift winning in Superleague Formula at Circuit ZolderChris, you are a talented driver from New Zealand and most of our visitors will know who you are. But could you please give a short introduction about yourself to the visitors that do not know you?
Hi! Yes, that’s right! I was born in New Zealand and lived there until I was 17 years old. I have got Dutch parents, which makes me partially Dutch. In my career I was 12 times kart champion in New Zealand, in 2004 Formula BMW Rookie Champion, in 2006 vice champion Formula Renault 2.0 and in 2008 Formula Master Champion. Lately, I was competing in Superleague Formula until my massive crash at Brands Hatch and now I am trying to organize a good deal for next season.

How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a racedriver yourself and did your parents always support you?
Luckily, I have always had the support from my parents and I would have to say they have been at the biggest part of my career! I first started in 1994, when I received my first go-kart for Christmas 1993 and from then on it’s a big story.

Did you start your career, like many other drivers, in karting? Do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
I first went to the kart track since I was 3 years old, together with my father. Then, I received my first go-kart for Christmas in 1993. For sure and without a doubt, karting is where I learnt my race craft and the skills that are needed. So I think, without being involved in that area, I wouldn’t know some of the stuff I do now.

You have raced in different formula cars throughout the years: Formula BMW, Formula Renault, International Formula Master, A1GP, GP2 and Superleague Formula. What are the biggest differences between these cars? What car do you like the most?
I would have to say, the cars with the most horsepower are the best; having all that control under your right foot feels great! Although, from the lower formula cars to the higher classes; it is all about progressing and with each car you get more grip, better brakes, more aerodynamics and more horsepower.

The horrifying crash at Brands HatchPeople all around the world will know you from one specific moment in your career: the horrifying crash you had this season at Brand Hatch, during the Superleague Formula. Are you now at full health again after this crash?
Yes, I am pretty much back to normal again after the crash! Apart from some bits and pieces, like my two fingers and ankle, which I think they will never be back to how they were! But, I am lucky that I am even writing this now! Those bits and pieces don’t disturb me that much, so I can get on with things.

If you take a look at your future, what will the future bring to you then? Are there special targets that have to be accomplished during your career?
It is always hard to say what will happen, as racing things change all the time! But my own personal goal is to stay a professional race driver. A lot of things have changed after the crash, so I would say this is a new beginning for me and I am excited to see what is around the corner.

If you could change your life with another racedriver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
Haha, I have never been asked that question before! That is a very tough question to answer, because if it would be somebody else; then I wouldn’t be Chris van der Drift! I would just like to have the opportunity to compete in F1 because I know I can do it, I don’t need to be somebody else then.

Van der Drift racing in International Formula MasterAlthough the racedriver is the one that really scores the results, there are always a lot of people on the background that also have a big influence on the results and career of a racedriver (sponsors, mechanics etc.). Is there a special person in your career that you would like to thank, and why is that person special to you?
Yes, that is correct. There are many people you get involved with over the years, but I would have to say my parents were the biggest part in my life and without them I wouldn’t be here either.

Many people think that the life of a racedriver is all fun and just a dream. But if you take a look to the ‘inside’ of racing, what is the hardest part of being a race driver?
There is an image that looks like racing drivers get to travel the world, go to parties and that stuff. But there is a massive amount of pressure, and things which you don’t get in a normal job! You always have to be strong mentally and stay fit.

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
No matter what, keep believing in yourself, take information from others and keep the things which you will learn and most of all; stay humble.