We recently caught up with record breaking champion endurance racing driver, Philip Hanson.
Philip is currently competing the European Le Mans series and has raced across the globe and already broken numerous records during his short career including youngest Asian Le Mans Series champion; youngest European Le Mans Series outright race winner (2018); youngest outright championship winner of the Asian Le Mans Series (2018-19); and youngest ever overall top-10 sports-prototype finisher in the Le Mans 24 Hours (2019
How did you get into endurance racing and was it hard starting your career at such a young age?
I have always been passionate about sports and had my heart set on pursuing skiing as a possible career.
I first got into a kart at 11 when I was on holiday. A lot of drivers begin kart racing at a very young age, you can start from four years old!
I got the rush for motorsport and found I had a natural aptitude for driving. I decided I wanted to get serious with competitive racing. I got my kart racing licence when I was about 13 and started racing at 14. I was fortunate to start winning championships early and started to get noticed by serious teams.
When I was around 17 I realised it was a decision between heading to university or pursuing a career in racing. I decided to go down the racing route.
Did you find it difficult coming into the industry at a young age, how were you received by others in the business?
In endurance racing the age is typically higher, purely because people have usually already driven other classes and find themselves in endurance as a later stage of their career.
The first year of racing I was one of the youngest drivers as instead of following the usual route of going into single seaters I went straight into endurance racing. I was one of the first to do this.
You’ve had huge success at such a young age, is it hard to keep grounded?
Not at all because I always set myself goals ahead of what I want to achieve and I never feel like my achievements catch up with the expectations I set myself.
Where has your career taken you so far and what have been your career highlights to date?
I’ve travelled all over the world and competed in prestigious races such as Le Mans 24 and Rolex 24 Hours, at Daytona
Career highlights have included racing at Le Mans for the first time and my first WEC race win in Bahrain, last December.
Can you describe what it’s like to drive in a competitive endurance race?
Closed cockpit race cars are double, triple and sometimes 12 times the length of an F1 race. There are up to three drivers per car to split up the time, pit stops with tyres as well as fuel and driver changes.
Le Mans is probably the most famous race and the one everyone wants to win. It’s a total assault on the senses.
It’s 24 hours of non-stop racing going through an entire day, dusk, night, dawn, and day again. Battling lack of sleep, rest, mental and physical fatigue to ensure I’m not making a mistake at 340kph down what for the most part is modified public road on the historic Le Mans circuit.
How to you keep yourself motivated?
I’ve always had a hunger to win and being willing to sacrifice. It’s such a competitive industry and you really have to be willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve.
Do you have a strict fitness and health regime?
Yes! Gaining just 5kg can add seconds to my overall race time, so diet and working out is a top priority. I train 5-6 times per week for about 90 mins each session.
Endurance racing is different from any other type of endurance sport because it’s essentially a prolonged interval session. The other aspect that makes it different to other endurance sport is the concentration it requires to maintain a constant level of alertness where any physical lapse can result in a catastrophic consequence.
How do you spend your time outside of the sport?
I spend time with my friends and family. I also enjoy eating out, because I follow a strict diet I choose my cheat meals very carefully.