The FFSA GT4 championship now has a bright red Motul-branded Alpine A110 GT4 on its entry list. One of its drives is none other than Nicolas Prost, who is competing in his second season behind the wheel of the CMR Racing Alpine. A dynamic duo like that must have a good story.
Nico, how was confinement in Switzerland?
Honestly, it was ok. We are fortunate enough to live in the countryside. So, we didn’t experience anything different apart from when we went to a shop. Obviously, it was weird that we couldn’t go to a restaurant anymore. But I could still do a lot of training so that made it a lot easier.
You’re also a business co-owner with your clothing brand 8Js. What was it like to go through a pandemic like this while operating as a business?
It was pretty hard, but we managed. Obviously, all our retail locations were closed so we had to rely on the webshop. Even so, during a lockdown people don’t buy clothes, they buy ways to entertain themselves [laughs]. Overall our business does not have a lot of inertia, so we managed quite well. On top of that we did a lot of reorganising and restructuring to a point that we came out of lockdown in stronger form. In the end, it was more worrying for us how the economy would survive in the bigger picture.
You have a very wide commitment and experience in motorsport. What’s your feeling about the race being run without an audience?
It might sound a bit harsh sometimes but apart from signing sessions and grid walks you don’t really notice a big difference. During a race weekend you’re so focussed on the job at hand, and you go from meeting to session to debrief, so it’s business as usual. You have to remember that behind every motorsport there is a full industry, a chain of suppliers that rely on these races for their businesses to survive. So, it’s very important these races can take place. In the case of Le Mans it will be a massive loss though because Le Mans really IS a festival made for the fans. It’ll be very weird to see a Le Mans 24 Hours without them.
Speaking of motorsport, last year you did your first season behind the wheel of the CMR Alpine A110 GT4. Talk us through the experience.
It was an all-new experience. Before that, I always raced prototypes and single seaters, and this was my first real experience in “tin tops”. As a Frenchman, it was important for me that this was an Alpine. I have a very strong connection with the Renault Group and have won lots of races with them in Formula E and Trophée Andros. So, it made sense to get behind the wheel of an iconic car such as the Alpine.
Concerning the Alpine, it now is fully dressed in bright red Motul colours. What’s the story behind the livery?
Personally, I find that the current motorsports landscape really misses iconic liveries, especially in GT-racing. Usually they are a patchwork of brands and it’s not very pretty to look at. However, if your take a look at Nascar for instance, they do have iconic liveries. So, I wanted the car to have a certain look and the Motul colours were the way to go. All our other sponsors were onboard, so we came up with this design and it worked really well. Actually, it worked so well that even though we haven’t officially raced it yet, it has already been picked up by game/simulator livery designers and you can already race it in iRacing and Asseto Corsa. (The iRacing livery is even designed by Motul Superfan Zak Scholes)
You’ve also been racing the Ohres racing Ligier? That looks like an incredibly fun machine.
It is! It’s the essence of racing. You know in motorsport we always complain about budget and money, but with the JS2 Ligier has really found a way to make it interesting and affordable. It is a GT car distilled to its purest essence. It’s also really fast!
When do you go back to racing?
Very soon. I’m testing the Alpine next Thursday and this weekend we’re racing at Nogaro, in France.