For this European Le Mans Series season, Richard Bradley joined French team Graff Racing. At the wheel of an ORECA 07-Gibson, the British driver just won the final round at Spa-Francorchamps and also finished sixth in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours this year. His greatest moment of glory to-date is his win at Le Mans in 2015.
His assessment of the ELMS season: "It has been good in some ways and bad in others. We've had a lot of issues, basically electronic that cost us, to be honest, a win in Monza. Le Mans, my performance was very good. Remember Graff's new to LMP2 and I think with what we've shown so far they can be very, very proud with what they've done and we're only getting stronger."
His vision for the Graff Racing team: "They're mega, they're brilliant and it's comforting because obviously I've got a lot of experience in LMP2 (Richard Bradley has been driving LMP2s since 2013, Ed.) and you know the thing that's nice is they're trying to feed off of me which of course makes the driver feel appreciated as well. And you can see from the results that the progress they've made has been nothing short of exceptional, so whatever the end results with what they've done their first year of learning, they can be very, very happy."
His 24 Hours of Le Mans: "Le Mans, for me...I always love Le Mans you know, especially after winning it in 2015 (smiles, Ed.). It always holds a good place for me. You know, we did a very good job, we had a good strategy and it looked like we were sticking to our strategy. Unfortunately we had a little incident at six in the morning which cost us a couple laps. If we hadn't, realistically I think we would have been second or third. So without that, based on pure performance, we would have been in that position. But ok we still finished fifth, and for the team's first Le Mans it's a very, very commendable achievement. So I think next year when Graff go back, they should purely be hunting for a win in my honest opinion with the developments we can make over the winter, it's very, very possible."
His thoughts on the ORECA 07: "In my time with prototypes, I did a couple of races in a Morgan (LMP2, Ed.), but every other other car I've driven is an ORECA: I drove the 03, the 03R, the 05, the PC car now the 07. It's a great car, to be honest the DNA of it is very similar to the 05. I helped with the development of the 05 and I could feel the DNA of it is very, very similar...it's just obviously with the new engine, etc. and the improvements they can make because they effectively got a free upgrade from the old chassis, so it's a fantastic car and the results have proven that, you know. It's the car to beat at the moment."
[My win in 2015] makes me hungrier to win it again because I now know what it's like.Richard Bradley
His victory in LMP2 in 2015 (#47 ORECA 05-Nissan entered by KCMG along with Matt Howson and Nicolas Lapierre): "You know, for me when I was younger, I never really cared about Formula 1. I've got no real interest in it. Ok the cars are fast but so what. For me the coolest cars and everything...I remember the 1999 Le Mans I saw where there were like 30 cars that could win it when GT1s and prototypes could compete with each other, and that was what made me fall in love with it. The cars looked cool, it's the hardest race."
"The first thing I remember was the qualifying lap because I got pole position with the first lap in qualifying. I'll never forget that lap. It was a just a sense of achievement. It was something I'd wanted for so long and worked very, very hard for, and it was having that weight taken off my back. And you know, in terms of the race, I remember the start because it was my first start. I crossed the [finish] line, I remember the cooling down lap because I'd never been in a situation in my life where I actually ran out of tears because I was crying so much. By the end of the lap, I couldn't cry anymore because I'd run out of tears. I don't know, I remember everything about that. It's something I will never, ever forget. To be honest, it's something that kind of makes me hungrier to win it again because I now know what it's like. Every year I've been there, I've been competitive. I've led the race every year except for this year. But I think that I always am able to find a performance at Le Mans and I think in the future I'll definitely be going for the win again because I'm only 26. I've got a lot more to go and I don't want to just settle with one. I want a lot more."
His 2018 program: "At the minute [we don't know]. There are lots of discussions going on, you know, with many teams and championships and everything. To be honest with you, speaking on the Graff side purely, we had such a good year this year in terms of performance. Of course there were mistakes as they were learning, but next year they've got the foundation to be able to win. I love the team, and I think they've got a very good relationship with me, so there's no reason not to continue, especially in the ELMS. I'm really happy, so on the Graff side, we're both in discussions and I think we're both really keen to continue."