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GP Week : Issue 44
5 Minutes with ... Adam Carroll A1 Team Ireland is this season’s Champion, and a faultess display at Brands Hatch by Adam Carroll went a long way towards it.WILL BUXTON spoke to him GPWEEK: Congratulations mate; A1GP Champion. Tell us what it means to you. Adam Carroll: It’s unbelievable. It means everything. It’s at these moments that you realise why you never lost faith along the way, never gave up. Unfortunately I couldn’t stand here a few years ago [in GP2] talking to you about this, which would have been brilliant, but I knew I could do it if I had the opportunity. I’ve had many great race wins along the way but I knew I could be a champion and put it all together, I just needed the right opportunity. Through A1 and A1 Team Ireland it’s given me that opportunity. It’s been seven years since you last tasted championship success. Has it felt that long? It’s unbelievable. As a racing driver you’re here, there and everywhere. Two weekends ago I went to California for the IRL race in Long Beach to see everybody and it was a really good weekend, but then I’m back and I had to go to Ireland for a few days. People were like, “What did you do at the weekend?”and I had to think about it, but then you laugh to yourself because it’s like going on the bus and going into town. Life moves fast but it’s been a long time. It’s been a long, long time. You’re a lot older than when I first met you (laughs). You’re looking a bit older too, mate ... (Laughs) I should look a lot older with all the stress and emotion! You just have to lock it all away and store it up. It’s just such a relief. The whole last half a lap I actually cried the whole way around to tell you the truth. It’s just been such a relief because I have done it the hard way and nobody can say I haven’t. I’ve always battled against the odds, I’ve always given it everything. I’ve trained my nuts off this year and I am fitter and stronger than I have ever been, because I knew this opportunity would be my opportunity. Now it’s just fantastic to actually see something through to the end and do the job properly. Let’s talk about the team because, as you say, it’s been your first opportunity to do something like this. How much has the team, Mark Gallagher, Gerry Hughes, and the boys, helped you to achieve this and to develop as a driver? It’s been really good right from the start. It was actually a very difficult start in A1. The old car was … unique. It was a different beast altogether. Coming back from GP2, which was a very quick, up to date, high downforce car, the old A1 car was a big beast that moved around and had a mind of its own but it took a few races to get into it and get going. Once the results started to come the momentum started to grow and the professionalism of the team, also behind the scenes, such as how Mark has built the media profile of the team has been fantastic. This will be big news at home. It’s been a long time coming. At the start people said to Mark, ‘not only will you not win the championship, you’ll never win a race’, and it is fantastic to do this for Team Ireland. On Friday when the boys left the circuit they had been here for 29 hours. I’ve done GP2 with some fantastic teams, I’ve tested with some top teams in Champ Car, but these guys are so, so good. Absolutely dedicated. There’s no nut or bolt that is overlooked in this car and everything … I don’t need to say anything. People can look in from the outside and that is the benchmark. When you moved over from GP2 to A1 a lot of people saw it as a step backwards. Now you’re being spoken of again in F1 terms. How much does that show what a good job you’ve done and how much does that reflect well on how A1 is now seen? A1 is a fantastic championship. I love GP2, I have such a soft spot for it, but A1 is unique. We are the main event. This has been set up from scratch to not be a feeder series but to be a cost effective way to do a world championship of motorsport, which it achieves. Some of the teams, sponsors and brands in this championship shows you how it has grown. I don’t have to bring $1.5 million to race, I actually get a salary and for the first time in my life I can stand on my own two feet and live and that’s the way it should be. If every team could do what this team has done, there would be so much hope for young guys to get an opportunity. So what’s next for Adam Carroll? You have to sit back and look at the fact that Andretti Green are in this championship with team USA, so my plan was to win this and hopefully go and sit at a table with guys like them. They know me now, I’ve met them and every weekend they’ve watched me drive. That’s been very good and if opportunities in America open up it would be very good. In F1, again, I know people do rate me. I have proven that any doubts they’ve ever had they don’t need to have. I knew they didn’t but you still have to go and prove yourself in life. I can qualify, I can race, I can overtake and I can win. I believe I am a strong enough package that given the right opportunity I can fight for the world championship in Formula 1. I’ve beaten most of the guys on their way there, and hopefully they’d say the same about me if asked the question. But I know that my situation is not like theirs. It’s been different, and it has made me into the person and the driver that I am today. I’m ready to do the job. In F1 I know people do rate me. I can qualify, I can race, I can overtake and I can win. I’m ready to do the job. – Adam Carroll is still focussed on Formula 1 18