Nico Prost has taken up a whole new challenge this year, contesting the FFSA GT4 championship in an Alpine A110 GT4. Without any previous experience in the championship, the category or the car, it’s bound to be an interesting year for the Frenchman. We caught up with him after his first race in Nogaro.
Nico, what made you choose to compete with Redèle competition and in the Alpine A110 GT4?
When I was racing Formula E, I was driving as a Renault factory racer and ever since then I’ve had a great relationship with Renault. When the opportunity arose to compete in the French championship in GT4, the Alpine was the perfect solution, because Alpine is a Renault group brand. On top of that, it’s one of the lightest GT4s at the moment, so it performs really well.
What’s the difference between the GT4 car, the road car and a GT3 car?
The GT4 category is really going through a revolution. The first generations of GT4 cars were simply slightly modified road cars but nowadays the GT4s are full-blown race cars. GT3 cars look like they’re suffering the same fate as the infamous GT1 cars in the past and becoming way too expensive to run for local teams. France only has a GT4 championship, but one with a strong field of 47 participating cars.
Coming from single-seaters and LMP cars, were you worried about switching to GT cars?
Yes, a little bit. I’d never had much experience of GT racing. I’ve raced a Saleen GT1 car in the past but other than that my only experience was in formula cars or LMPs, and they are completely different animals. The Alpine is a pretty easy car to drive, but the thing I had to get used to was how to loosen it up. You can slide the car around on the track very easily without losing time. It’s actually a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever overtaken so many cars in my life as during this last race.
How was the first race weekend at Nogaro?
It was a tough weekend for the whole team. It was our very first race with the car and even more so for my team mate, as it was his very first GT race ever. We race with a Pro-Am formula so on each car you have an experienced driver and a less experienced driver. We need to train a bit more together but I’m feeling confident for the next race in Pau, which is actually one of my favourite tracks in the world.
You also recently participated in the Tour Auto in an Alpine. What was that like?
It was a crazy experience. The other participants are real die-hards. I thought it would be a fun, chilled-out experience but on the first day we had to get up at 4:30 to get to the start on time. That’s just crazy! The first day I had Bruno Senna as my co-driver - he couldn’t drive himself because he didn't fit behind the wheel. We got so lost we just took the highway to the arrival and we arrived three hours early. After that my dad, Alain, took over and that changed everything. He was so serious about the road book. I wasn’t so good at navigating while he was driving - I was mainly checking my phone and telling him to follow the other classic cars in front of him (laughs).