Podium at Le Mans for George Donchev
About a dream of Le Mans which came true
The history is the most pure source of example for success, experience and knowledge. The results are always showing back in time that everything is possible (or there are not impossible things in life) and we only have to keep dreaming bravely. The current history of the Bulgarian motorsport is written by people which have more than a passion for it. They have absolute commitment driven by more than their thirst of adrenaline in a petrolhead heart, it's a mission and a way of life. The discipline in their training on and out of the track, the tireless days of preparation and the dedication of the teams are the way to the podium.
Today I present to you a dream come true of one of the most successful Bulgarian drivers in the Porsche Cup - Georgi Donchev and the Overdrive Racing Team, who won the mighty Second place on one of the most legendary and magical tracks of all time Le Mans. Many gladiators fight for success on it such as Derek Bell (Porsche), Olivier Gendebien (Ferrari), Tom Kristensen (Audi), Frank Biela (Audi) and many more. George Donchev was fighting for the podium at the Porsche Sprint Challenge France race just before the regular 24h race at Le Mans.
Georgi Donchev and the other pilots at Le Mans Aug 2021
I had the honor to talk to Mr. Georgi Donchev about his participation in Le Mans series 2021 as part of pre-24Hour Race and here is what he told me:
PB: You are taking part for the second time on the legendary Le Mans track, last year you were part of the jubilee 50th Porsche race on the track. How do you feel about getting back on that magic track?
GD: I have said many times that driving there has always been my dream. The track exists only a few days a year and is arguably the most iconic one in the history of motorsport, so any opportunity to drive there is a dream come true for me.
PB: How is the organization of the competition going? Were there any problems before the start? How did the team cope?
GD: In principle, there is no perfect organization. Fortunately, I am used to an extremely high level of organization from my participation in the German Carrera Cup series, where everything is relatively well organized and the rules are relatively strict, the pilots are very experienced and literate, which allows things to go smoothly without excessive measures. Here things were a bit more chaotic but at the same time more limited to avoid accidents due to the large number of participants with different levels of experience. In addition, there were "controversial" decisions regarding the admission of some pilots to participate at the last minute by changing the regulations two days before the start, then canceling the penalties already imposed on them, etc. :)
The start of the Porsche Cup race Aug 2021
PB: Needless to ask how high the adrenaline level was throughout the race. And despite everything, how did you feel and what did you think when you found out that you would finish in 2nd place?
GD: Frankly, maybe because the race wasn't part of the championship in which I'm fighting for a position, maybe because I didn't have any expectations, or maybe because of the level of the championship, I can't say that the tension and adrenaline were unusually high. The feeling of being second out of nearly 60 cars is of course great, but I wouldn't say it was my hardest achievement.
Georgi Donchev at the podium of Le Man Aug 2021
PB: It's not your first time on the podium. You've been to it and on the slopes of the Spa. What's different here about Le Mans?
GD: I've been to many podiums. The difference here was that I was on it as second in the overall standings, unlike most cases when I'm on the podium in the Pro-Am class. Initially there had to be only Am and Pro-Am pilots, so they were all in the same class, a separate issue is that as I mentioned above, at the last minute the organizers allowed two pilots who do not meet these requirements, one even winning the race . The other special thing was that, as you said above, stepping on this podium is a rare opportunity, considering that competitions are held there only once a year.
Georgi Donchev's Porsche 992 GT3 Cup at Le Mans Aug 2021
PB: After a terribly difficult year like 2020. In some of your lives you say that you were on muscle with the team last year. What did the 21st year reward you with besides a few podiums?
GD: 2020 was very difficult for everyone. This year things are a little better, but they are far from perfect. Nevertheless, the team managed to make its first solo participation with two cars in the German GT4 series, where so far we are performing relatively well. Our pilot Tano Neumann leads in the trophy class and we are third in junior, where Stefan Bostandjiev together with Pavel Lefterov had several very good performances. Unfortunately, this year we were not able to take part in the Carrera Cup as a partnership with Huber Racing, as we did in 2019 and 2020, so I had to continue driving with Huber while the team focused on the GT4 series. I very much hope that we will develop in this direction one day.
Georgi Donchev's Porsche 992 GT3 Cup at Le Mans Aug 2021
PB: You are currently driving the latest 992 GT3 Cup, how different is it from the 992.1? Or what does it give you and what do you miss from the "old"?
GD: The cars are very different and at the same time quite the same. Different in that the new one is much more cultivated and balanced, the start was much wilder and unrestrained. In terms of speed, of course the new one, giving more security and having a lot more traction, is noticeably faster in touring most tracks. In terms of driving pleasure, the 991 was much more intense and very intense racing because it was easier to make mistakes and the slipstream behind the front car was used very effectively when overtaking, this is practically impossible for the new one for a number of reasons. On the other hand, when you start to reach the limit of the new higher capabilities of the 992, the car reminds you that it is GT3 Cup and starts "showing its horns".
Georgi Donchev at Le Mans before the race
PB: What is the next step and goal you set for yourself? I guess the logical path is to GT Masters. What do you dream of?
GD: For me, the priority is my development as a pilot, not to go through as many series and types of cars as possible. At the moment, I think that there is no better platform for this purpose than Carrera Cup, and until I see that my progress there is "slipping", I do not think I will give up the series. I allow myself to start experimenting in GT3 in parallel, but I have a number of reasons why I did not start doing it, the main one being financial. Dream For me, the priority is my development as a pilot, not to go through as many series and types of cars as possible. At the moment, I think that there is no better platform for this purpose than Carrera Cup, and until I see that my progress there is "slipping", I do not think I will give up the series. I allow myself to start experimenting in GT3 in parallel, but I have a number of reasons why I did not start doing it, the main one being financial. My dream has always been WEC and LeMans, so given that GT3 cars will be allowed there from 2024, maybe this will be the moment when this transition will materialize.
PB: What do you think of the new Mission R prototype? Is there a future and is this the direction?
GD: In short, I am an outspoken opponent of electric cars. Not because I deny technology as such, but because I strongly believe that this whole transition to electric cars is highly politicized for purposes other than those communicated, but I think this is a very long discussion that I prefer to have on my own rather than in the context of the above topic.
Porsche Mission R
It was a pleasure to talk with Georgi Donchev about the same passion that we share. Wish him new podiums and achievements in his race carrier.