Brazilian racing driver Ricardo Haag races in Império Endurance Brasil and last year took home the championship in the P4 prototype category. This year, the Motul-backed driver moves up a category and is raring to go again when the season kicks off in August.
Ricardo, you compete in national endurance racing in Brazil. Can you tell us more about it?
I’m an endurance driver in the Brazilian national endurance competition, Império Endurance Brasil. It’s similar to WEC and IMSA. I compete for team Motorcar. The races are either four or six hours long. I was national champion last year in the P4 category so, for 2020, I’m competing in P3. As I was the champion last year, I’ve moved up. It’s a faster car with more power but using the same chassis, so it’s a bigger challenge for me and I’m really happy with that.
Can you tell me more about the cars?
I’m driving a prototype racer called an MRX. It’s manufactured here in Brazil for the national endurance racing. There are four classes of car, P1 to P4. The P1 cars are unbelievably fast: over 800hp and a top speed of more than 300kph. I’m practicing with a P2 car nowadays and I’m testing this week in Brazil. I have a career plan to get to P1 by 2021 or 2022.
What does the season look like? How many races are there?
We have eight rounds throughout the year. It’s a good calendar and easy to manage as the races are spaced out well. That gives me enough time to prepare myself physically and also allows the team to get the car ready. This year, with coronavirus, we are looking at having seven stages starting in August.
So, you haven’t raced this year yet?
No, we haven’t had any races this year. We normally start racing in March or April. It was meant to start one week after coronavirus started in Brazil. The drivers and the teams were all ready to compete and then everything closed here. It was a bad moment for all of us.
What did you do with your free time?
I’ve been doing a lot of practice on the sim. And I’ve been able to get to the track to practice with karts and touring cars. I practice every week at least once a week. I also do a lot of physical preparation every day on the treadmill and looking after my weight so that I’m race fit.
Endurance racing is tough. What’s the key to success?
Yeah, you need to be in really good condition physically. Sometimes you’re driving for more than two hours straight. And it’s challenging. I’m driving at 250kph and we have P1 cars passing at 300kph+. It’s mentally demanding so you need to be in good shape and keep your mind clean to make the right decisions. To be aggressive or not in the right conditions. And you have to really get along with your engineer and your team. That is massively important for the success of our team. We spend a lot of time off track together because it’s crucial to have a strong bond. In endurance racing, it’s more about the team working together than the performance of the driver. If I’m really fit and in good shape, but don’t have this relationship with my team, it wouldn’t work. It’s a team effort and a team result.
What’s your involvement with Motul?
Motul has been sponsoring me for a few years now. My team uses Motul’s lubricants because it’s the best product we can put in the cars. It’s vital that we use the best products because reliability in an endurance race is a must. The oil and fluids need to be the best. In an endurance race, the most important thing is to reach the end, to stay on track, take care of your car and be patient.
Are you excited to be moving up a category this year?
Wow, of course, I’m really excited and it’s a new challenge for me. We’re working really hard to be in good shape for August. We’re working more than usual, because we saw that some of the other teams are not working as much as we do. So, we’re trying to get an advantage. We have the motivation to do it.
You said you’re practicing in a P2 car but racing a P3? What’s it like getting out of the faster car and competing in the P3?
The top speed of a P3 is 245kph and the P2 is 260kph, so it’s not so much the speed difference. The biggest difference is the power. P2 cars use turbo engines and they rocket out of the corners. It’s been really good experience to drive the P2 and then get back into the P3 car. It makes it easier to manage.
How did you get into racing?
I have always been completely addicted to racing since I was a child. I did a lot of karting when I was younger, but I only started when I was 20 years old. I started late. My family couldn’t support me, so I could only compete when I had some money. I started competing in cars in 2016. I was lucky to have really strong results and I was the winner of regional championships. Last year was my first national championship win. Looking to the future, I have a clear goal: to be the champion in P3.
Would you like to race internationally, in the States or Europe?
It’s a dream for me. This year, I had planned to go to IMSA in the States and try a couple of races. It’s a really special environment with good cars and lots of competition. But with the pandemic, that plan wasn’t possible. But for sure, it’s a dream for me. And there’s always next year.