Toronto, Ontario (October 22, 2014) – As one of the few Canadian open-wheel racers competing over in Europe this season, Luke Chudleigh proudly sported the Maple Leaf flag throughout a busy campaign taking in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS Series and select rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Series.
Driving for the French-based Tech1 Racing outfit, the 19-year-old from Milton built on last year’s rookie season with the squad to further develop his race craft while soaking up the experience of racing across Europe at circuits in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.
Finishing 12th overall in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS Driver Standings, Chudleigh’s continued development netted five Top-10 finishes along the way, with a season’s best fourth place finish coming at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium.
Here’s what Luke had to say looking back over the 2014 season and his thoughts on moving forward in 2015:
Q: Every season in racing contains big highs and big lows; can you share both with us from your 2014 campaign?
Luke Chudleigh (LC): “I put a huge amount of energy into my racing life. It makes every high extraordinarily rewarding and worth every low point and heartbreak that comes along. This season took on a bit of a cosine trend all year, which is very hard on the heart! That lack of consistency is ultimately what robbed me of a better spot in the championship.
“I still managed to meet objectives such as being the number one team-mate, the highest finishing Tech1 driver and to score double the points I had last year. However I finish the year feeling like I had the potential for more if the situation were just a little different. Maturing comes very quickly if you can keep focused during the hard times and that’s exactly what I intend on doing.”
Q: The schedule embraced some phenomenal European race circuits. Which were your favourites this season and why?
LC: “There’s no doubt being able to drive Europe’s most exclusive race tracks is an incredible experience! Pau, the street circuit in southern France was something that will be with me forever. It was my first experience on a street circuit and racing in the rain there was an absolutely awesome time for me, I loved it.”
Q: As a Canadian competing over in Europe, what’s the single biggest challenge you have to deal with during the season?
LC: “There are many tiny challenges I face during a race weekend. The hardest one for me is just the support of family and friends. I’m a long way from home and having one person come and support me, come to the race and offer a bit of cheerleading goes a long way. It’s something I identified early in my career and I make sure always to have one person come and enjoy the weekend with me, usually my Dad!”
Q: This was only your second year racing in open-wheel competition. How do you rate your development as a driver?
LC: “Sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember that I have much less experience than most of my competition. I naturally want to fight at the front of the pack and sometimes expect a little too much of myself. That’s just part of my hunger to succeed. But overall I think I’m punching above my experience!
“I’m happy when I look back on my data and video and see my maturity in race-craft situations, that’s led me to some great finishing positions, often after qualifying outside the points. Personally, I’d liked to have scored a podium in 2014, to have evidence for myself that I was a shaker at the front. That didn’t happen, but it will come, we came close on occaison. I’ll keep pushing.”
Q: You tackled some of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup races to compliment your ALPS campaign. What did you take from those experiences and what, if any, were the key differences you noted?
LC: “The Eurocup and ALPS championships hosted almost all the same drivers in the two separate championships. I noticed that the level of professionalism and feeling of the race weekend was a little bit more elite in Eurocup as part of the World Series by Renault package. They do a fantastic job on those weekends. But on track, it all feels the same. It’s all the same guys and we push flat out all the time.”
Q: You’re renowned for being equally busy off-track as you are on it. You landed new partners to support your racing this year with the likes of Vitamindrip® and Adidas. How much do you enjoy the business side of racing and what stands you out from other drivers?
LC: “I certainly didn’t get into the business of being a racing driver for anything other than the love of competing on-track. That said, I’m pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy the business side of things, and a good thing too because being a racing driver these days basically incorporates being ninety percent businessman too! I enjoy marketing my brand and discovering ways to create a profitable entity for my partners. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work!”
Q: Can you share your plans for the immediate off-season and what your thoughts are regarding your 2015 campaign?
LC: “I think it’s best to explore some different opportunities. Testing some faster cars and finding a fit somewhere would be good. We have the luxury of a long winter break so Trevor (my manager) and I can talk and think about what we want to do. Last year we were happy to stay with Tech1 and not shop around.
“In 2015 it’s important as part of my maturation process to have a new environment to grow. The F3 EuroSeries is an incredible championship, I’d like to investigate some opportunities on that front. There are also some very impressive new cars in the US. We have time, we’ll see.”
Q: Would you look to return to North America to compete armed with two season of highly competitive European racing under your belt?
LC: “I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I think my on-track brand now represents a very European element, which I love and think I could exploit in North America. We’ll see what opportunities present themselves moving forward.”
Luke Chudleigh is supported by Vitamindrip®, Chudleigh’s, ARM Training, Tech1 Racing, Adidas and PRIME/Wickens Management.
ENDS – www.lukechudleigh.com / @LukeChudleigh