Most professional racing drivers stick to one discipline in pursuit of excellence. But that’s not the way French racer Yann Ehrlacher does things. When he’s not racing in touring cars, the double World Touring Car Cup champion likes to get stuck into the e-Trophée Andros, the legendary ice racing event. This year, he pushed hard right to the very end in one of the hottest contests in the event’s 33-year history. We caught up with him for a chat about what it’s like to switch between racing touring cars and ice machines.
YANN EHRLACHER: “AS SOON AS I STARTED IN TROPHY ANDROS, I WON THE TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP TWICE”
You’re a double world champion touring car driver. But this championship really got to you. What does e-Trophée Andros mean to you?
It means a lot. It’s a championship that is really difficult and demanding. When you go out on track, most of the time you have two laps of free practice. In the (touring car) world championship, we have one and a half hours. So, it’s much easier. And mentally this championship is so difficult, because the track conditions are changing so much and you have to adapt every lap. It’s only my third season and it would have meant a lot to win this. We ended up finishing P2 and equal on points.
You’ve helped deliver the most exciting championship in the 33 years it’s been going.
I think so. It never happened before that we finished equal points. Unfortunately, I didn’t win it. But it has given me more motivation to come back next year.
You’re a touring car driver, used to door-to-door racing. What did you take from touring cars and apply here?
[Laughs]. Absolutely nothing. It’s a different sport. What we did do, which is the same, is being strong on set ups and being as well prepared as possible, because that’s really important in every category. But driving wise, there is no comparison. This kind of driving, drifting and going sideways at high speed in low grip, helps with touring cars because it makes it easier to drive in rain and so on. But as for brake pressure, steering feel and so on, they are completely different.
There is not a single thing in common. How hard is it to adjust to this completely different kind of racing car?
My Trophy racer is a four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, electric car, while my touring car is a two-litre combustion engine with front-wheel-drive. It’s difficult but it’s a good exercise to be able to to swap between these cars, as well as going from Tarmac to ice surfaces. It improves driving skills and how you adapt. In racing, the guy who wins is the person who adapts the best. It’s about improving that skill, but there is nothing to compare between the two cars. You have to switch the brain and go.
Do you believe e-Trophée Andros makes you a better touring car driver?
Definitely. Maybe it’s easier to say there’s no link, but as soon as I started my Trophy Andros career, I won the (touring car) championship twice. The intensity of it means you do 12 or 15 races over a few months. It’s a lot of pressure. Constantly thinking of set ups. It keeps the momentum up and there’s never an off season. When I go back to the touring car season I am hot and ready to go.
What’s next for you?
It’s confidential for now. And not officially announced, but there’s a big chance I will be on the field to defend my title (in touring cars).
You’re wearing some Motul branding. What does Motul mean to you?
Actually, I’ve been in contact with Motul for many years. For me, Motul is an emblematic brand and has been involved in a lot of motorsports globally. So being linked to Motul is an honour and I hope the collaboration will continue in the upcoming years.