From the Forests to the Mountain
Transitioning from rallying to GT racing has been a swift one for Mike Bailey.
A collector of rally cars, Bailey has an array in Europe, which he regularly uses to compete in historic rallies, but due to COVID and the travel restrictions in place it forced the English ex-pat to focus his attentions on Australia.
“At the beginning of last year when COVID hit I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see some of my cars abroad, so I bought an Aston Martin GT3 car over,” said Bailey.
“I bought is as a historic piece of love and I decided to go racing in it to have a bit of fun.”
Bailey’s collection in Europe is impressive and represents rallying’s golden periods through three different decades.
“I’ve got a fair collection of cars in Europe, predominately these are historic rally cars,” said Bailey.
“I have some Group B, Group A and WRC cars driven by the likes of Stig Blomqvist, Francois Delecour, Miki Biaision and Juha Kankkunen, with most being Fords.
“I go across and do historic rallies. I compete, but not compete, however when I put the helmet on, I’m just flat to the floor – if in doubt, go flat out.
“It doesn’t work in GT World Challenge Australia and I’ve found that out quickly.”
It’s been a steep learning curve for Bailey this season as he races for the first time in a long while on a circuit.
“It’s been a huge transition between backend going boot it to backend going front catch it, so that was hard,” he explained.
“I was racing back when I was a teenager in Minis in England and that was where I started off before I went into rally where I’ve been focused heavily. Then coming back into track, having other people – or trees – moving at you differently to what you think they are was quite a challenge.”
Before his Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS campaign, Bailey was a regular in the Victorian BMW E30 Series and credits this for providing a base in which to make the step up
“The E30 Series taught me race craft and the class is good for that, as even though its not a fast car, they handle like a rally car,” Bailey summarised
“The field is quite close and they race a lot door-to-door, which teaches you a lot.”
The final round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS will be held at Bathurst on November 30-December 3.