This year, Belgian motorsport enthusiast Olivier Bouche took part in his third season of the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Great Britain. We caught up with him to find out more.
LM: What is your current profession?
OB: I am an insurance broker specialised in motorsport and I am the manager of the motor racing unit of the company which I work for which is based in the French city of Lyon. I spend a lot of time at various circuits, and it is an ideal opportunity to combine my passion for motorsport with my job. We are the insurer of the French Motorbike Federation, and we also have many clients in the European Rally Championship. In racing, we cover individuals in the Blancpain and Le Mans series, as well the Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC).
LM: Have you ever competed in rallying?
OB: I took part in some regional rallies in Belgium when I was younger. I however prefer racing as you can literally turn up with your helmet on a Friday evening or Saturday morning without the need to do a reccie like in rallying which means less time out of the office.
LM: Why are you taking part in the GT4 Challenge?
OB: I had the opportunity to replace the team-mate of Pierre Mantello at Oulton Park in 2011 which was the first time that we raced together. This was Pierre’s very first season in motorsport and as I had more experience, I was able to coach him using video and data to see where he could go faster. As he is a very clever man, and understands quickly when you explain something to him, he improved very quickly throughout the season. In 2012, we decided to enter the GT4 Challenge as a two-man team, and we enjoyed a lot of success – we came first in six out of the eight races and won the series which is a very good souvenir for us. The GT4 series is nevertheless a challenge for me as I used to race in Belgium where there are only two circuits – Spa Francorchamps and Zolder.
LM: Are you competing to win or for fun?
OB: Taking part in the GT4 Challenge is only for fun, and is purely a hobby. I am very lucky to race alongside Pierre [Mantello]. I also enjoy meeting lots of interesting people as well as the social aspect of the championship, and there is a very good atmosphere in the paddock. Last year in Dijon we organised a party to discover new wines so that we could break the ice amongst participants, and this was the start of some very good friendships. We like to include new entrants so they feel equally part of the family. At Le Mans when we supported the 24 Hours in 2012, we put together an event where all of the teams spent a wonderful evening together. This allowed us to get to know people from other countries including the USA, Canada, Italy, and Greece a little better.
LM: What does the Aston Martin brand signify for you?
OB: For me, Aston Martin has always been my favourite make of car, and I think the build quality is now on a par with the more exclusive luxury German marques such as BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes. I thought that one day I might be able to afford a road car, but I never dreamed that I would one day been racing an Aston Martin. The Vantage is a very nice car to drive and the sound of the engine is fabulous when you are inside it.
LM: What does it mean for you competing in the centenary year?
OB: It is very special as 100 years for a carmaker is an important moment in their history. It is a pleasure to be able to race in 2013 and it was very memorable to take part in the Centenary Festival at Brands Hatch. We are a little part of the story of Aston Martin.
LM: Do you currently own an Aston Martin road car?
OB: I don’t have one at the moment as I rely on company cars, but as a second addition in a few years’ time, I would like to buy the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage in black.
LM: What are your biggest luxuries in life?
OB: I like nice watches, and I do collect them. I currently wear the no.6 limited edition Belgian-made Raidillon timepiece from the very first series, which takes its name after the most beautiful corner ‘Eau Rouge’ at Spa Francorchamps. It is the masterpiece of my collection and reminds me of this particular curve. I also own an extra thin Jaeger-LeCoultre which was bought by my father for my 18th birthday. For sport and when I go skiing, I use the Tissot T-Touch which is very robust. I also like BRM, and my dream would be to own an IWC.
Furthermore, after 10 years of planning, we fulfilled a dream and built our own house in the middle of a forrest two years ago in what is today the smallest City in Europe. Located in between Luxembourg and Namur in the south of Belgium, it is called Durbuy and has around 600 inhabitants.
LM: When you go on holiday, do you like to splash out on five star hotels?
OB: I prefer to stay less time in a destination in a very nice hotel rather than spending a longer period in a three-star property for example. One of my favourites is the Hotel Beau Rivage in Mauritius and in Borneo I stayed in a hotel built in the style of a wooden ‘long house’ which sits on an artificial lake.
LM: Thank you for your time Olivier.