Husband and wife, Clare and Adrian Johnson, are competing in their first full season of the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge. We caught up with them at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in Kent to find out what drives them as a couple on and away from the race track.
LM: What are your backgrounds and what have been your career highlights to date?
AJ: I have been involved with cars from an early age as my father was an automotive enthusiast, and I grew up with Aston Martins. He turned this passion into a business, and I continued and developed it into dealing in classic Aston Martins, high-class restoration, and specialist sales.
LM: What made you decide to go racing as a couple and have you always had an interest in motorsport?
AJ: We have both competed for many years, and when we met, it seemed like a good idea to become a team and race together. The GT4 Challenge is ideal as most races see two-driver squads take to the track.
LM: Is this your first season in the GT4 Challenge?
CJ: No. Last year we took part in select races and did around three-quarters of the 2012 season. However, 2013 is the first time that we are doing all of the rounds.
LM: Do you get competitive in terms of posting the quickest lap times or are you more focused on what the other teams are doing?
CJ: There is always a difference of around two to three seconds between myself and Adrian. If I push closer to Adrian’s time, then he looks to improves on his. He is always that bit ahead of me, but that’s good as it spurs me on to do better, and it pushes him forward at the same time. We obviously do keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, but we are essentially focused on the strategy for the whole race.
AJ: The more competitive you are, the more competitive you want to be, and at the end of the day, this is a competitive sport. It is healthy rivalry!
LM: When at home, do you discuss and analyse the last race or do you leave this strictly for when at the track?
CJ: We are always talking about it! The videos are sent to us after the race, and therefore we have a look at those to see where we can do better.
LM: What cars do you currently own?
AJ: Being an Aston Martin dealer, I have one or two select models like a DB5 which I have had for a long time. It is a car that we both like to use, and although there are modern Aston Martins which come and go, I still tend to go back to the classic DB5s and Astons from the 1960s.
LM: Which new luxury car has caught your eye this year?
AJ: The car of the year for me so far is the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S which is one that I have my eye on.
LM: If money was no object, which car would you buy?
AJ: Everything we do is car orientated, and we are massively into them. Doing what I do as a business, I get the choice of using all these different models. It is not really a monetary thing, but a lifestyle that you get accustomed to.
CJ: I would buy the Aston Martin DB3S. I think it is absolutely stunning, and the lines on this car are beautiful.
LM: What does it mean to you both to be associated with the Aston Martin brand in its centenary year?
AJ: It is something that I have grown up with ever since I was around 6 years old, and is a brand which we are very dedicated to, are very passionate about, and always will be. It is nice to be associated with Aston Martin during its centenary year.
CJ: My grandfather used to rally Aston Martins in the 1950s, and therefore we both have some sort of family heritage with the marque.
LM: Vanquish or Vantage?
AJ/CJ: Definitely the Vantage!
LM: What are your favourite travel destinations and properties?
CJ: Most of our travel tends to be around motorsport. When we do go away, we visit destinations such as Monaco, and Pebble Beach, and I have raced in Australia. We also take part in rallies such as the Mille Miglia in Italy. We very rarely have a holiday that is not car related!
LM: Away from cars, do you collect any objects?
AJ: I have a dozen or so watches, and I like those made by Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC, amongst other brands. It is whatever takes my mood at the time…
CJ: I have a preference for Chopard, and have a few of their timepieces.
LM: Thank you for your time Clare and Adrian, and we wish you all the best for the remainder of the 2013 season. For more information on the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge, visit www.astonmartin.com/en/racing/series/gt4-challenge