10 minutes with Xavier Combet from TDS Racing

7 March 2013

-    In 2013, TDS Racing will move in to the Blancpain Endurance Series. How did that come about?

Two reasons led us to make this decision to enter Blancpain Enduarnce Series. The first one is that a former driver asked us to. This was Ludovic Badey, who was our driver in 2005 and 2006 in Megane Trophy. When he heard that we wanted to try something new, he came to see us and talked to us about GT. The other reason is the current general enthusiasm for the series. It is a really interesting category, especially in endurance where we already have good experience.

-    For your first year in GT, why did you choose to race in Blancpain Endurance Series?

Endurance, quality of the circuits, and quality of the organisation are the elements that made us choose the Blancpain Endurance Series.  Moreover, we were able to base our decision on concrete indicators, because we followed the championship during the last three years and we could not but notice that it is very steady. There are always a lot of teams and drivers, good tracks, so it is a quality competition. Another element is the 24 Hours of Spa.  Finally, on a more personal perspective, we love comparing ourselves with new teams we have never had an opportunity to confront on the track.  It is a new challenge!

-    What are your goals for the 2013 season?

Obviously our main goal is to do well. We leave the door open to any possibility. We made a habit of getting a good ranking every time we entered a new championships but we have to stay humble, we will see how it goes, we will do our best, as usual, and see what happens!

-    There are a wide range of GT3 cars racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series. Why did you choose the BMW Z4? What were the criteria behind this selection?

The choice was not easy because there is a substantial field of GT3 cars in terms of brands and performance. We can say that all the cars have a good level, thanks to the Balance of Performance of the Blancpain Endurance Series and that works really well.  However, we had to choose one brand so we based our choice on two aspects. The first one is the reliability of the BMW Z4: it is always at a consistency level and it is often amongst the front-runners. It is a reliable car, compared with some others that had issues last season because it was the start of their project. Our second criteria was that we will also do the national championship, where there are no BMW Z4s until now, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the other teams. Moreover, we do hope that BMW is going to notice our quality of work and help us.

-    We already know the driver line up for the first car, with Ludovic Badey and Henry Hassid. Ludovic is a former driver of the TDS team, was it a natural choice for the two of them?

Actually, ‘Ludo’ knew that we wanted to enter a new racing category. As a matter of fact, we were part of the World Series by Renault since 2005 but we wanted to end this in order to see new things and participate in new challenges. ‘Ludo’ was aware of that, so he came to see us right away and we did a deal with him. We really wanted to work with him again, and I think he really wanted to be back with us too.

Concerning Henry Hassid, we already knew a lot about him through the articles or press releases but we never had a chance to meet him. Yet, he called us because he was interested in driving the BMW Z4, so he came to Spain with us during the winter to test it. Then the magic happened. After a few laps behind the wheel of the car he came back to the pits with a big smile on his face. Ludo told him that he trusts the TDS Racing team and now they are both our drivers for the 2013 season!

-    What can you tell us about a second car?

The objective is to enter a second car in the Gentlemen Driver category. I always thought it was a very good idea to enter that category. Indeed, I think it is a really important category. Gentlemen drivers have a crucial role to play in the sporting project of young drivers. The current economic situation contributes to the fact that young drivers have trouble finding sponsors, and Gentlemen Drivers help them! I found that was very smart from SRO to bring them forward in a category just for them so they can fight for podiums just like the other drivers. They are racers like other drivers of course and are doing their best and trying to improve, and the Blancpain Endurance Series is a good Series for them to compete in.

-    Are you looking forward to racing at great tracks like Monza?

Yes, we are really looking forward to the first test session and the first meeting of the season with the BMW and the other cars. We could always hear the positive feelings of people racing in the series and now we are eager to see for ourselves by competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series.