Yahn Bernier is making his competitive debut in the Ferrari Challenge after spending the 2019 season in the Club Challenge program and joins us for another installment in our “Fast Lane” series. We joined Bernier for a quick conversation at the beginning of the COTA weekend having just come off of his first ever podium finish in the Coppa Shell AM category at the previous round at Indianapolis.
Why did you decide to compete in Ferrari Challenge?
So I bought the Ferrari Challenge car in 2018 after one too many track-days in a street car saying maybe this isn’t the best way to do this. My first step was to do the Club Challenge last year in Homestead and I had a really fun time doing it. I’m not super competitive that way, but I got the bug a bit so I was looking to do more. And I know that the series has enough levels where I could be in the mix enough to make it satisfying for me so I decided to jump in this year and set aside the time and make the arrangments both to run the series but also to get ready. I have worked with really great coaches to help me get up to speed. This year, I’m just trying to improve my race-craft and consistency and things like that, but its been fun so far. The reason I got in was just it was the next logical step. When you own the Challenge car, you should probably go racing at some point.
What is your favorite circuit and one that is more challenging for you?
My favorite one that I’ve raced on is Road Atlanta, a classic track with a really interesting flow that really suited my driving style. My other one that I really love is Laguna Seca and I know we’ll be heading there later this year. I don’t know how good the passing opportunities will be there but it’s a really fun track to drive. I haven’t really been to a track I don’t enjoy yet. This is the first time I’ve driven at COTA and this track is very technical and super fun once you get the rhythm of it. I can see that there’s more opportunity for improvement and that makes it exciting. Hopefully through the weekend we’ll get even faster.
And your favorite feature 488 Challenge Evo?
Obviously the steering wheel from a visibility point of view clears some space on the dash so you can notice sector times or rev limiter, that kind of thing a lot more easily. It makes the environment in the car a bit more comfortable and easy. Otherwise, it feels like the aero on the car is working better for controllable driving for people like myself in the Coppa Shell Am category. The previous car was totally fine, but it does feel like this is a good evolution on that baseline.
Any rituals or superstitions that you follow?
I do not have that sensibility whatsoever. I’ve worked with coaches who have tried to get me into having a routine before I get into the car. Things like reaction exercises and jumping jacks or stretching which probably help but I feel like I am fortunate where I can get into the car and switch it on. It is something that I’m trying to get better at, however, as the mental component is so important in this sport. There’s not really a superstition that I follow though per se.
What was your favorite race?
This year’s race at Indianapolis on Saturday for sure because I ended up on the podium. Race 2 on Sunday was close to a repeat, but it didn’t work out. This year wasn’t about results, it was for experience, so I’ve already exceeded my expectations for the year. To be on the podium there and do the laps with Roger Penske driving us around was pretty darn special if you’re an enthusiast and a fan of motorsports. I thought that weekend was really special, but hey maybe we’ll get a few more podiums. I don’t know what the goal will be for next year as we already got on the podium this year, but we’ll see!