MOST racing drivers dream of Formula 1, but Milton Keynes ace Richard Abra has his sights firmly set on Le Mans after going round the clock to win one of the sport’s most prestigious titles at Silverstone.
The 23-year-old from Downs Barn, who celebrates his birthday on Friday, is aiming for a career in GTs – the pinnacle of production car racing – and is already planning on a successful life overseas.
“A lot of drivers want to go down the single-seater route,” said Abra. “It was never something that interested me though. I’m quite tall so I was never going to be cut out for a life in single-seaters, and to be honest I find them a bit boring.
“I’m much more at home in a GT car. The ultimate dream is to take part in the Le Mans 24-Hours. It’s the pinnacle of our sport and everyone knows of it. The biggest manufacturers and the top drivers all want to cut their teeth at Le Mans, and I hope to do it one day soon.
“There are series in Europe I have set my sights on too, and the American Le Mans is one of the biggest GT series in the world at the moment, so I’d like to be able to go there one day too.”
And Abra is going the right way about making his dreams come true. This season, he has been cutting his teeth in the Britcar British Endurance Championship, racing alongside Mark Poole in his BMW M3 GTR.
After mixed results throughout the year, the pair, joined by Clint Bardwell and Michael Symons, entered the Britcar 24-Hour race at Silverstone at the end of September.
“Some of the media were tipping us as the favourites, but they didn’t tell us until afterwards!” said Abra.
“We weren’t racing in the top class, so we weren’t the fastest car out there. But we were better on our tyres and had better fuel efficiency than the Group 1 guys.
“Every time they came close, they needed to pit again and they lost a couple of laps. It was certainly the best win of my career – I loved every second of it, and the next day I just wanted to do it again!
“Mark and I have been driving together for over two years now. We learn a lot as we go and certainly learnt that to win this race you do not need to drive your nuts off for 24 hours.
“We were well prepared with a completely rebuilt car and had a good plan about how we wanted to run the race
“The race itself was amazing. I had such fun. Rain or dry, the car felt great – too great in the wet it seems, as the team spent the whole stint trying to slow me down!”
Plans are already afoot to take on the British GT series in a Prodrive built Aston Martin – arguably the best car in the field, racing among Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches.
Abra said: “I cannot wait to get in the new car. We get it next week, we’re going testing at Donington, and we’re thinking about entering in an endurance race up there.
“But as with every form of motorsport, the problem is budgets. I see drivers who are as good as I am but struggle to make the grid because they cannot afford it.
“Likewise, you see someone with daddy’s money who has no idea what they’re doing out on a circuit!
“Fortunately, we have a few good sponsors and a strong backer in Mark, but it does still make you feel a bit sick when you price up how much each bump and scrape costs!”