Nathanael Berthon is a highly rated GP2 winner who has been savvy enough to explore a parallel career in endurance racing in 2014, while he dovetails another GP2 campaign with the Lazarus team.
After a brief but very impressive appearance at the Paul Ricard test day at the beginning of April, Berthon completed his deal to race at Imola and Le Mans in early May. Greg Murphy sealed the deal with the rapid Frenchman and was delighted with the prospect of having this hot property in the Oreca-Nissan.
Sniffer Media caught up with the Frenchman and his team manager, Greg Murphy at Imola recently to find out how Nathanael is bedding in with the Murphy Prototypes team.
“Nathaniel is exactly the kind of driver that fits right in at Murphy Prototypes; quick, committed and with a lot of hunger to make a name for himself and also the team,” said Murphy. “There is a lot of anticipation that he will be very, very quick. He excites me greatly and along with Rodolfo and Karun we have probably the strongest line-up we have ever had.”
Berthon was delighted to part of the ebullient Irish team and told me: “The next few weeks are going to be a bit hectic to say the least. From Imola, I go straight to Monaco and then to Le Mans for the test day. I suppose you can’t get two more different tracks than Monaco and Le Mans. But of course for me it is a great move to be here with a very competitive team and with great team mates like Rodolfo (Gonzalez) and Karun (Chandhok), who I both know from the GP2/GP3 paddocks. I can see the potential already and I am very happy to be part of what I am sure will be a very special campaign.”
Philosophical about his career progression, Berthon remains open-minded about what his long term future might entail.
“You can see more and more drivers looking at sports cars now,” he said. “Guys like James Calado, Jon Lancaster, Harry Tincknell and Sam Bird have transferred over. I now have a foot in each discipline so I am in a good place to see where it all takes me. For sure they are both very different in some respects, like the obvious things of team work and saving tyres and fuel more. But ultimately it is down to what you can achieve behind the wheel and I think I have a lot to bring the team for Le Mans next month.”
Berthon was right on it from the start at Imola and was very impressive in Free Practice 2, setting the 3rd fastest time. He also qualified the car 4th and despite the disappointment of not getting a chance to show his stuff behind the wheel of the Oreca-Nissan after one of his team mates – Rodolfo Gonzalez damaged the car in the third hour, he will be one to watch at Le Mans next month.
You can follow Murphy Prototypes 2014 Le Mans adventure via www.murphyprototypes.com