Interview with Duncan Tappy

Duncan Tappy is a very succesful racing driver and won the prestigious Formula Ford Festival in 2005, but that is definitely not his only success throughout his career. Unfortunately, racing is not only about talent nowadays. So after some years of struggling to get enough budget to race, the talented British driver switched to race in GT's and is continuing with what he was doing; grabbing podium places and victories. spoke to Duncan Tappy.

Greg Demoustier (l.) and Duncan Tappy (r.)Hello Duncan, you are a talented British driver and most of our visitors will certainly know who you are. But could you please give a short introduction about yourself to the visitors that do not know you?
Hi, I’m Duncan Tappy. I’m a British racing driver, currently racing in British GT and Blancpain Endurance Series. I had a successful career in single seaters, becoming Formula Ford Festival Champion and UK Formula Renault Champion were probably my finest moments but being the rookie for Great Britain in A1GP was also really special. I had a few years of racing anything I could, due to budget issues, with most success in Superleague Formula. I made the move to race in GT’s in 2012 with ART Grand Prix and since then I’ve never looked back.

How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a race driver yourself? Did your parents and family always support you?
My father was always a big motorsport enthusiast and worked with various race cars with friends. He also did a little bit of rallycross and rallying himself at club level, but nothing serious. Obviously, I inherited an interest of the sport early on.

When I was young I was more interested in football/soccer and tennis, but that all changed after a birthday karting event at the age of about 10. From there I went to a local kart circuit and competed in an in-house championship, I won my third race and then I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a racing driver. My parents never pushed me into racing but were always very supportive, so in that respect I was very lucky.

You have started your career, like many other drivers, in karting. Did you enjoy your period in karting and do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
Karting was great fun. It taught me a huge amount that you can’t learn anywhere else. Karting teaches you race craft that you just can’t learn in cars. I believe karting is massively important to a career of any race driver and I would recommend for everyone to start there.

You have raced in several cars during your career, for example Formula Renault, Indy Lights and Superleague Formula. What are the main differences between all those cars? Which car, do you think, is the most exciting to drive?
You are right, I have driven most single seaters; the only two cars that I haven’t driven are GP2 and F1. The main difference between any single seater will be the downforce level, weight of the car and power. They make a huge difference! You just have to work that as soon as possible and adapt. Something I’ve had to do a lot over my career.

The best car I have driven is a Mercedes DTM car. For a saloon car to have as much downforce and braking power as that car had was very impressive!

Tappy driving the McLaren MP4-12C GT3Lately, you have switched from single seaters to GT-cars. Was it a major transition? What are the main differences between driving a single seater and a GT-car?
My switch to GT-cars was something I was planning for a while as I knew it would be the best career choice for me. For me the main differences from driving single seaters is the weight of the car, lack of downforce and the heat in the cockpit.

Every race driver has good and bad moments during his career. What are the best and worst moments in your career?
My best moment in my career was definitely winning the British Formula Renault Championship; so many big names had won that championship. So to have my name amongst them is something I’m very proud of.

The worst moment of my career has to be when I lost a big sponsor. I was racing in World Series by Renault and half way through the season we had to stop. The plan for the season after was to do GP2 so I guess it will always be a case of, What if?

If you look to your own future, what further goals would you like to achieve during your career?
In the future I would love to be a works driver for a major manufacturer and win at Le Mans either in GT’s or prototypes, that has to be my ultimate goal.

If you could change your life with another race driver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
If it was just for one day; then it would have to be Kimi Raikkonen. He’s at the top of his form, racing in F1, he’s fully chilled and I think he has a pretty perfect life.

If you were to say it would have to be for one year; then I would say Gary Paffett, he races in DTM and is a test driver for F1, that’s pretty awesome.

Do you have a special training programme to stay/become fit for the racing season?
I have had many specific training programs over the years. I have learnt lots of different ways of training, so I have a good idea of what I need to do these days. I spend most of my time out on my road bike and core work in the gym now.

Although the race driver 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 race driver (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?
The first person I have to thank is my father, he’s always been so supportive and my number one fan! Others I would like to thank are my managers Serge Celebidachi and James Olivier.  They believe in me so much, they have helped me a huge amount and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Thank you everyone!

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
For anyone out there who is dreaming of a career in racing, always believe in yourself, always try to the best of your ability - that way you can always be happy that you couldn’t do any more.

These days, it’s not just enough to be quick in a car; you have to be the full package so don’t leave any leaf unturned. Good luck, we all need that!