As he prepares to enter his second season at Junior Rotax level in 2012, Jay Goodwin has stolen an early march on his adversaries by linking up with Silverstone-based iZone Driver Performance, where he will receive expert guidance and tutelage from no less than a three-time motor racing world champion.
Benefitting from state-of-the-art facilities at the celebrated ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, the iZone Academy is the brainchild of triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, and was set up with the express purpose of teaching young drivers the science behind operating in their ‘peak personal performance zone’, thereby enabling them to learn the key skills that they will require throughout their careers and unlock their inner potential.
Jay came to iZone’s attention through John Pratt, Priaulx’s driver coach for 12 years and formerly a successful competitor himself in Formula Ford, F3 and saloons. By his own admission not a huge F1 fan – touring cars are very much where it’s at for the talented Sale-based karting star – Pratt found the 14-year-old’s attitude and approach towards his craft refreshing, and he was duly invited to iZone where Priaulx took the time to speak to him one-to-one about what it takes to truly succeed in the sport...and he of all people should know.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, to be honest,” confessed the highly-rated Ashton-upon-Mersey hotshot, “but my first impression was that it all appeared extremely professional. The simulator just looked out-of-this-world – and when I got on it, that was confirmed! I spent a lot of the day on it, looking at all the different aspects of driving. I completed 70 laps of the Silverstone National Circuit, which was amazing – and they told me I adapted to everything pretty quickly.
“Afterwards, Andy gave me some advice in terms of where I should be looking in order to progress my career, and told me all about how he had got started and worked his way up. It was a very special moment, talking to someone as successful as he has been, and he genuinely seemed to be taking an interest in me, which was quite a confidence lift. This is a really big boost for my career, so now it’s up to me to make the most of it!”
Priaulx – one of the winningest drivers in the history of touring car racing, BMW’s tin-top talisman and the consummate professional – has pledged to mentor Jay and keep a close eye on his progress as he climbs his way up the motorsport ladder, and in a sign of mutual respect, the J Davidson Scrap Metal Processors-backed ace is a keen fan of the Guernseyman, too.
Not only will this new collaboration open up to Jay the invaluable opportunity of tapping into Andy’s knowledge and experience, he will also be able to take advantage of regular simulator sessions as part of a structured, bi-weekly training and development initiative designed to work on all the aspects necessary to ‘turn him into the professional, paid racing driver he ultimately wants to be’, states iZone commercial director Neil Riddiford.
Describing Jay as a breath of fresh air, the inaugural British Formula Renault Champion revealed that iZone’s newest recruit had impressed with his feedback on the simulator and evinced superb potential first time out. Riddiford explained that a comprehensive programme will aim to equip the Strawberry Racing speed demon with every possible string to his bow in terms of his mental, physical and psychological armoury – the crucial difference that separates the best drivers from those that are merely very good.
“Jay has an excellent level of natural ability,” he opined, “and he is capable of digesting information and putting it into action. We looked at every facet of his personal performance, and from that, we began to identify pockets of opportunity to unlock. He responded exceptionally well to instruction, and displayed a very good understanding of what we are trying to achieve.
“He went away with a much clearer picture of the areas he needs to focus upon, and a lot more ammunition in his locker as to how he can channel his concentration into being the very best he can be. He has the potential to be extremely successful moving forward, providing he is prepared to put in the time, effort and commitment to make the difference.
“It’s fair to say that there are an awful lot of quick drivers out there in the world who tick a lot of the boxes, so the question is, what can they do to make themselves stand just that little bit out from the crowd and be just that little bit better than everybody else? Sometimes in motorsport, the very smallest of margins can make a massive difference – it’s all about an accumulation of marginal gains.
“We were very impressed with Jay. In this day and age, 95 per cent of the drivers that come here say they want to race in F1, but it’s fair to say that the chances of them achieving that are close to impossible, even with a lot of money behind them. Jay said that his ultimate goal is to go down the tin-top route and focus on touring cars instead, which was quite refreshing to hear. It’s a lot more attainable, and if the commitment and desire are there, it certainly offers a bigger window of opportunity to end up as a professional, paid racing driver.
“That also shows that he is thinking outside-of-the-box and more openly and realistically about the opportunities that may lie ahead. Goal-setting is very important, and the fact that he knows what he wants means we can formulate a plan looking at the short, medium and long-term and start to structure his career around its final goal.
“He is very enthusiastic and eager to learn, and he really embraced what we are trying to do. Andy is very passionate about the sport and extremely well-connected, and he spoke to Jay about various things he had to do during the early stages of his own racing career to avoid all the pitfalls in this sport. It’s very easy for a driver to lose direction, and we want to condition Jay to want this more than any other person on the planet.
“Being involved with an organisation like ours’ will make him a lot more accountable. Each time he goes away from here, he takes homework with him to enhance his overall preparations, so that when he goes to race meetings he should subconsciously be closer to being ‘in the zone’ from the moment he arrives. One of the things we want to instil in young drivers is that what happens away from the racetrack can sometimes be just as important as what happens on it.
“Some of it is about trying to help them understand how to control their emotions and making them aware that when things go against you and you get angry because of it, it’s only serving to put a bigger smile on the face of your nearest rival. It’s quite surprising how significant a difference it can make if you can just alter a driver’s mindset ever-so-slightly.
“We’re very pleased to be working with Jay; he is very ambitious with regard to the future, and we have an exciting project ahead. He is very determined and keen to take in as much information and knowledge as possible and to put in the effort away from here as well. He’s a really nice lad, too, and he clearly has age on his side. Our job is just to get to the nuts-and-bolts of making him the most complete driver he can be.”