It’s refreshing to speak with someone is incredibly passionate about what they do. Chatting to Australian A1GP driver Ian Dyk, all you hear about is how ‘excited’ he is, how ‘amazing’ his experience has been, and how much ‘fun’ he is having while being ‘challenged’ every time he gets behind the wheel.
After his strong performance in his first race as lead driver in Mexico, Team Australia announced he’d stay in that position for the rest of the season. Taking into account his performance, it’s also fair to say his attitude would have been a main factor in the decision.
“It was certainly a goal to get that drive,” he says of the lead drive in Mexico. “To step up to that role is just amazing, it’s a huge step forward for me and it was just a matter of learning from the drivers (team-mates Barton Mawer and Karl Reindler) to try and get myself up to speed.”
Getting up to speed, as Dyk puts it, is a matter of learning tracks he’s never driven on, mastering the intricacies of team communication, and adapting to the travelling lifestyle of the A1GP season.
“After doing all my driving in the past in Australia, except for this season of A1, every circuit we got to is just amazing,” he says of his overall experience. “They’re all eye openers.”
Dyk hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. He’s been involved in motorsport from the age of 5, winning championships on motocross bikes and moving on to go karts with similar success. From there, Dyk moved quickly towards his present situation by winning the Formula 3 support race at the 2005 A1GP in Sydney and scored a podium finish at the Porsche Carrera Cup in 2006.
His resume reads like a blueprint of a future champion, and his mixture of racing endeavours gives him strong foundations.
“I think having driven so many types of cars, I’ve gained something,” he says. “It’s helped me along the way from step to step.”
The current step should keep him occupied for the next few years. A1GP is excellent preparation for Formula 1 — the level of racing Dyk and competitors all aspire to reach. In A1GP an even playing field is stressed, placing the chances of victory entirely on driver skill and team chemistry. Above all, however, it guarantees a close competition.
“All the cars in specifications are identical,” confirms Dyk. “But, there are changes on the cars that can be made by myself and the engineers to adapt the car to the circuit to make it more comfortable and faster in certain conditions.”
With that in mind, the distance between success and failure can be incredibly slim. The communication between driver and team and vice versa is imperative. Germany does it well, hence their first place overall position. Australia are at 13th, sitting one point above South Africa, so the pressure is on Dyk to make things happen in the Australia camp.
“We as a team need to get a little more consistency in the way that we work,” admits Dyk. “The way I understand the engineers and the way I communicate with them is very important.”
Sitting in 13th place is hardly ideal, but if anything, Dyk has shown that when he is behind the wheel Australia threatens. In his first race as lead driver in Mexico the team showed that with the injection of new blood they are certainly not to be taken lightly.
“It was a dream come true as far a debut goes,” Dyk says, with a smile in his voice. “The team and I worked really well to get a podium in the sprint race and a solid finish in the feature race.”
Unfortunately, the Australians were unable to build on their Mexico form and produced a mediocre result in Shanghai. This is typical of their up and down season, but Dyk won’t let it waver his confidence as a position in the top ten is still within reach.
“I think it’s realistic that we can step up into that top ten,” he says of the goal. “With the time remaining I think it’s the best we can hope for.”
For that to happen, Dyk needs to put in a stellar effort at Brands Hatch next weekend. Despite never racing on the historic circuit and aware of that distinct disadvantage, he is ready for the task.
“It won’t be too bad, it’ll be exciting to try and get myself up to speed as fast as possible,” he says. “Now that I’ve secured that drive I’m confident that I can put in a solid performance for the team.”
With all the challenges and hurdles in place, Dyk still gives you the feeling Australia might just make some moves. It’s not because he’s brilliant or better than the rest. It’s through the excitement, desire and unwavering enthusiasm that resonate in this voice.
Sky Sports are broadcasting the A1GP exclusively live, starting with the qualifiers at 4.30pm next Saturday on Sky Sports Xtra