Superleague: Spurs want Dolby and a championship in 2010

By Andy Darley

CalendarFriday, December 18th, 2009

 
 

Tottenham Hotspur FC want Craig Dolby back in their Superleague Formula car next year so that he can win the championship for them, according to a team spokesman.

Tottenham will be among the 2010 favourites if Craig Dolby returns

Tottenham will be among the 2010 favourites if Craig Dolby returns

Fran Jones, the north London team’s head of international development, said Dolby’s fearless but safe overtaking manoeuvres had made him the most exciting driver to watch last season.

But he credited much of the team’s leap in the standings from 11th in 2008 to runner-up in 2009 on the switch in management of the car, from GTA Motor Competicion in its first year to Alan Docking Racing.

He said: “Craig has been very, very fast this year and that has to be the main ingredient. If you ask anyone involved in the championship, I’m sure they would say that he has been the most exciting driver to watch because he is so fearless on the track but without ever being dangerous.

“Of course being fast is great but, to compete for the championship, the car also has to be consistent and reliable and that is what the team has delivered for him. Last season our driver Duncan Tappy was also very fast and performed really well for us but the car itself was much less reliable and so he suffered as a result.”

Tottenham's Duncan Tappy battles with Beijing Guoan's Davide Rigon

Tottenham's Duncan Tappy battles eventual champions Beijing Guoan in the Donington rain

Tappy secured three podiums during the 2008 season, but aside of these results neither he nor stand-in Dominik Jackson were able to regularly trouble the top 10. By contrast, the only time Dolby finished outside the top 10 was the second race in Estoril when he retired on the first lap.

The team went into the final race weekend with a slim chance of overhauling Liverpool to win the title but a combination of steady driving by Adrian Valles for the Reds, and the dead weight of the Estoril result, proved too much for Dolby to overcome despite a fourth and a second place.

According to Jones, the plan for next year is for the same but better: “The aim for next season has to be to win the championship. Certainly if you speak to Craig, that is what he and the team will be striving for and we’ll be doing all we can to support him and help him to achieve that.”

Craig Dolby leaves the tunnel at White Hart Lane

Craig Dolby emerges from the tunnel at White Hart Lane

He said that Spurs had originally joined the series in a bid to market itself overseas, with the possibility of Superleague expanding outside Europe in the future being particularly exciting.

“The interest in football and motor racing in Asia and the Americas for example is huge. Because these are strategically important markets for Tottenham Hotspur, being part of Superleague Formula is a way for us to engage with the audiences and our large fan bases in those regions in a completely different way.”

Q&A between Fran Jones, Tottenham Hotspur’s head of international development, and Superleague Formula

SF: Spurs came very close to winning the Superleague Formula crown in 2009. You must be pleased with the club’s second season on-track.

FJ: We are absolutely delighted with our results this season. Our driver Craig Dolby and our race team Alan Docking Racing have performed superbly and all the credit has to go to them for getting so close to winning the Championship.

SF: What do you think were the key ingredients to that success?

FJ: Craig has been very, very fast this year and that has to be the main ingredient. If you ask anyone involved in the Championship, I’m sure they would say that he has been the most exciting driver to watch because he is so fearless on the track but without ever being dangerous. People want to see overtaking and Craig certainly did that as much as he could.

Of course being fast is great but to compete for the Championship, the car also has to be consistent and reliable and that is what the team has delivered for him. Last season our driver Duncan Tappy was also very fast and performed really well for us but the car itself was much less reliable and so he suffered as a result.

SF: It was Liverpool who ultimately pipped Spurs to the crown. Is there a little bit extra incentive when you’re going wheel-to-wheel with a fellow Premiership side?

FJ: Of course we always want to perform well against our Barclays Premier League rivals whether that’s on the pitch or on the track so our battle for the title did have a bit of extra spice to it. The two clubs have an excellent relationship off the pitch so we had lots of friendly banter during the series. The league table doesn’t lie in football and it doesn’t lie in motor racing. They finished top of the league and deservedly won the Championship so we congratulate them.

It’s not just Liverpool though with whom we have a rivalry as we also have a history with several of the other teams taking part in Superleague Formula. We’ve beaten Anderlecht and Atletico de Madrid in European Finals and have competed against the likes of PSV Eindhoven and Seville in the UEFA Cup in recent seasons so there’s practically a club rivalry on every straight and at every corner!

SF: Why did the Superleague Formula concept appeal to Tottenham Hotspur?

FJ: As a Club we are always looking for opportunities to raise awareness for our brand overseas. The opportunity to be part of Superleague Formula appealed to us because it is a different way of building our brand and connecting with a different audience that we might not otherwise reach through football. We also like to innovate so we were very proud to be the first English to team to join the series.

SF: What were your impressions after attending the Superleague Formula weekend in Monza earlier this year?

FJ: I’ve been to a Superleague Formula weekend before so I very much knew what to expect. It’s a great experience for everyone involved and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to get to a race weekend to give it a go. The format of the weekend is fantastic and it means the action hardly stops on either day. Superleague Formula has quickly established itself as one of the most exciting around.

SF: How do you see Tottenham Hotspur using SF in the future to broaden its global appeal?

FJ: I’m really looking forward to the series getting out of Europe and into other continents. The interest in football and motor racing in Asia and the Americas for example is huge. Because these are strategically important markets for Tottenham Hotspur, being part of Superleague Formula is a way for us to engage with the audiences and our large fan bases in those regions in a completely different way. Our fans are incredibly passionate and loyal. Through international tours and friendly matches we try to give them an opportunity to see the team in action but we can’t get to every country each year so Superleague is another opportunity where they can cheer the team on first hand.

SF: And finally, your thoughts and hopes for next season?

FJ: I’m confident that Superleague Formula will continue to grow and become even more popular. Superleague Formula can give motor racing fans the things that are important to them that they perhaps don’t get with other series’. I’ve no doubt that once they’ve had an opportunity at Superleague Formula races to get up close and personal with the cars and the drivers and seen the amount of overtaking and great racing, I’m sure they’ll be hooked in exactly the same way as we are.

On the track itself, the aim for next season has to be to win the Championship. Certainly if you speak to Craig, that is what he and the team will be striving for and we’ll be doing all we can to support him and help him to achieve that.

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