Updated: Dec 11, 2020
After a hugely impressive 2018 in the Ginetta Junior Championship, Patrick has graduated to GT4 for 2019, read all about and his career so far Patrick here.
My first driver interview for Gripping is with 16-year-old Ginetta Junior driver Patrick Kibble who has just completed his first season in car racing. I chose Patrick as my first as I have always loved watching fresh new talent work their way up the motorsport ladder. I have been lucky enough to watch the British Touring Car Championship trackside since 2002 when my dad first took me allowing us to watch some fantastic drivers apply their trade through the years.
In doing so, my dad and I have learnt to pick a driver out of a crowd who really stands out amongst the rest and for me Patrick is one of those.
As mentioned, 2018 was Patrick’s first season in car racing, so much so that at the beginning of the season, he still had the novice plate on the rear of his car to show other drivers he had done less than six meetings.
However Patrick never showed signs of being a novice, driving with maturity far beyond his years in a field littered with fantastic talent. Since joining the TOCA package, Ginetta Juniors has gained a reputation for the occasional bump as drivers learn the ropes of car racing, although I felt the driving standards on display were the best of any TOCA series in 2018.
Patrick was at the forefront of those driving standards, with measured drives and a keen eye to learn. The race that made me take note was the first race of the day at Thruxton, round five of the championship where Patrick had qualified fifth, a fantastic achievement in its own right on Britain’s fastest circuit.
Despite a steady start in which Patrick dropped to as low as eighth, he regrouped and slowly made his way through the field, keeping out of the way of drivers falling of the circuit around him. His moves were superb, committed on the brakes but never unfair with contact never being made.
Lap eleven saw Kibble make a move for third on Adam Smalley at the final chicane, similar to the move he pulled on his teammate Ruben Del Sarte earlier in the race. However to keep his position Smalley cut the chicane, a move which would come back to haunt him.
By lap eight of twelve Patrick was up to fourth and part of a four car train battling for the lead. It was a battle which you could tell was going to end in tears and on the final lap it did as leaders Foster and Browning came to blows. Kibble read the situation perfectly as those in front tripped over each other around the complex and set up the move perfectly to head into second, just behind Smalley.
Kibble was not able to take the lead as Smalley defended into the chicane, as Kibble opted to take second rather than risking it all. After the race though it was deemed Smalley did indeed gain an advantage for cutting the chicane on lap eleven and was demoted to second, ensuring Patrick claimed his first victory in cars at only his fifth attempt, a fantastic achievement at a track ITV commentator Billy Monger quoted “rewards bravery”.
It wasn’t just the victory which was impressive though, it was Patrick’s drive throughout the entire race, the way that he preserved his tyres by avoiding curbs and not overstressing the car through the corners. I am sure this smooth driving style aided him as the race went on. In addition to this it was his calmness as those around him battled, often running off the circuit in the process.
Soon after this performance, I got in touch with Patrick and asked him a few questions about himself and that race, which turned into what you are about to read.
Patrick first started watching motorsport in 2007 when he was five years old, like most of us, beginning with Formula 1. 2007 was Lewis Hamilton’s debut season in F1 and quickly grabbed Patrick’s attention. His aggressive yet measured driving style is something Patrick admired from the start, traits, I feel Patrick shares with the now five time world champion.
It was another four years until Patrick raced for the first time, after a Christmas present everyone dreams of, a go-kart. Patrick went onto race at various circuits around the country, mostly his local circuit Buckmore Park.
One thing I like a lot about Patrick is that for the vast majority of his karting career he was an independent, up against some of the biggest teams and drivers around Europe on his own. Similar to cars, drivers in teams tend to have an advantage due to data sharing however they can also be costly.
Due to his height, Patrick had to move up classes quickly, being nearly 6 foot already has its drawbacks, especially for a budding karter. Despite the continuous class changes, Patrick always fared well against his rivals, winning the Buckmore Park club championship in 2015 being a particular highlight. While I was talking to Patrick he mentioned that moving up a class each year was a hindranceas it meant he could not gain the experience needed to compete closer towards the front in a second year.
The positives were that Patrick always had to learn quickly, competing against some of the best karters in the world at the age of 14 in the X30 category.
The moment Patrick could move up to cars though he did and for 2018 Patrick moved into the Ginetta Junior category, known for aiding drivers on their way to stardom. Former champions include Dino Zamparelli, Tom Ingram and Jamie Caroline with former competitors including new McLaren driver Lando Norris.
Not only is Ginetta Juniors known for being an excellent stepping stone and a category which excels in helping young talent but also one for great close racing, something Patrick wanted to be a part of. Being part of the TOCA package is also a huge benefit to any young driver as the exposure that sponsors can receive is huge, being on live television ten times a year as well as crowds into the tens of thousands is a great way to get your name out there.
It is also a great place to learn Britain’s best circuits. Patrick entered the series a novice, hoping to learn with limited testing at each. Prior to Thruxton he had only been to the circuit once before. By the end of the weekend, he was a race winner.
“Heading into the season, with a limited amount of testing, I was really hoping to be regularly getting onto the rookie podium and being in the top 8. However only to be off the rookie podium once so far this season and already have my first win under my belt, I really am expecting to be consistently at the front challenging for wins.”
That chat was back in early June 2018, with the remainder of the feature being written in January 2019. I kept in touch with Patrick throughout the season as he matured and learnt further, and once he announced his plans for 2019 we were able to finish the piece together.
I started by asking Patrick how he felt his first season in car racing had gone, looking at the bigger picture. Patrick’s responded by saying, “I am really happy with how my first season has gone, especially after having such limited testing before the championship had begun. Getting my first win in only my third race weekend has got to be the highlight of the year, but also racking up 8 further overall podiums over the rest of the season is something I am very proud of, in my rookie season, finishing 4thoverall in the championship.”
For me it did not matter that Patrick did not win again in 2018 as there is a whole lot more to racing that this, it is making sure that you are consistent and more importantly, not getting into costly scraps that could cause damage. I felt that this was where Patrick excelled in 2018, as seeing him tangling with another competitor was a rarity.
With this in mind, I asked Patrick how he would describe his driving style to which he responded, “I like to think my driving style is quite calculated, something I have gained over the year. Looking back to one of the races at the final weekend at Brands GP, I can remember thinking that some of the drivers in front may have an incident, so I held back for a few laps. The drivers did eventually make contact, lifting me up from fifth to third, finishing the race on the podium. As well as this, I see my overtakes as aggressive, but fair, not holding back if I see a chance!”
The second part of Patrick’s is why I admire him and can be proven by his end of season form which saw Patrick achieve five podium finishes in the final five rounds of the season, at Silverstone and on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, two very different circuits.
With this experience under his belt I asked Patrick what his plans were for 2019. It is always interesting to see if a driver will remain in a series to aim for the win, however Patrick, in his own traditional way of moving up the ranks quickly, had other ideas.
“I have recently been signed with TF Sport to compete in the British GT Championship, driving the brand-new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 car. I am really excited to get the season underway, especially to race with such a successful team like TF Sport.”
This is fantastic news for Patrick who will be partnered by former BTCC driver Josh Price, and is now managed by MB Partners, headed by former F1 driver Mark Blundell. It certainly has been a fantastic 12 months for Patrick who has learnt a lot and has caught the eye of the people that matter.
2019 will certainly be another challenge for Patrick in British GT, with races lasting up to three hours ensuring strategy is much more involved as new skills such as pitstops and driver changes will have to be learnt. As well as this however Patrick will also be taking his GCSE’s over the spring and into summer. “Taking my GCSEs this summer will have to fit into the busy schedule I have in front of me, aiming to be at the top of my game in everything I attempt!”
It was great to talk to Patrick and get such honest and in depth answers from one of the rising starts of British GT racing. I for one cannot wait for 2019 to get going to see how Patrick fares in his new machine along with his new teammates.
The British GT championship begins at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the Easter weekend of the 20th April through to Easter Monday, the 22nd April.