Driver Blog: Jeff Westphal
You may know Jeff Westphal, everyone’s favorite David Beckham look-alike, as the one-time G-Stig – and as the driver of the GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza that lights up Time Attack events around the country. However, last weekend, Jeff got a call that put him into a Ferrari F458 Italia in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. To top it off, Jeff qualified fourth and led the race before his co-driver Alessandro Balzan brought the car home in second place. Score one for the Time Attack guys! Look for Jeff in the no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 Italia all year in the Rolex Sports Car Series.
|This is a little bit different than the GST Subaru Impreza – this is the Ferrari F458 Italia I am driving in GRAND-AM this year! (Photo: Bob Chapman, Autosport Image)
Arriving at Barber Motorsports Park brought back memories of my last wheel-to-wheel race, which was for the now defunct Insight Racing at Barber last year. Then, I was racing a BMW M3 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, which has cars that are closer to street cars than the GT cars in the Rolex Series. Yet even with the outcome of last season being what it was, I was very eager to get back on the surface. Barber is a fun track to drive. It is challenging in that it's easy to get complacent as the grip improves on the narrow circuit. The 63 didn't drive much due to weather, save for my team mate doing a recon lap to see the track when a brake issue struck and we were stranded on the half wet track. So, I would have to wait a day to get some real time in the car under my belt.
|I didn't have much time in the car before getting to Barber, and with so much rain on Thursday, I didn't have much time in the car before qualifying. (Photo: Bob Chapman, Autosport Images)
Both Alessandro and I were excited to get some laps, but the track was damp with a forecast of dry for the remainder of the weekend. Alessandro went out first during practice and his first laps were on a fully wet surface, with the car being handed over to myself when a dry line emerged on the track. For me, this probably brought my total laps in the car up past ten – ever – since the one test I had in the car before this weekend was quite short. I enjoyed having a well sorted, mid-engine platform to work with as it made the corners of Barber easy to manage. I put the car P1 in my first practice, which was an hour or so before I was to qualify.
|Getting clear track at any time during practice or qualifying is really hard. (Photo: Bob Chapman, Autosport Image)
In Qualifying, the session was very short with space on track limited, so finding a gap was probably the biggest challenge as it always is in this series. The car felt good, and we were able to put the car on the outside of the second row, a highly advantageous position at Barber due to the nature of turn 1 & 2. I was very excited to get started and race, so Friday couldn't end soon enough for me.