Although not a new face in IMSA, Canadian DTM ace Bruno Spengler is starting his first full season in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship here at Daytona. We caught up with him in the paddock.
Bruno, do you get nervous before the start of a race like this?
Yes, I do. It’s normal. Daytona is one of the biggest races of the year and also one of the toughest. On top of that, the level in IMSA is so high the race itself will be super challenging. The event is amazing and the support from the fans is like nothing I’ve seen before.
You raced in DTM for 15 years. How does the BMW M8 compare to the DTM car? Do you have a preference?
It’s very hard to compare because they’re so different. The M8 is a long-distance racer and designed to endure a 24-hour race. The M4 DTM is made to do a one-hour race. The DTM car is much, much lighter and uses carbon brakes, for instance. It also has a lot more downforce. The M8 GTLM is heavier, has steel brakes and doesn’t have as much downforce. Also, the tires are very different, again because of the duration of the race. To be honest, I don’t really have a preference. I really enjoyed my 15 years in DTM and now I’m really enjoying racing in IMSA. I’ll be doing the entire season so it will be a big challenge for me as there are a few tracks that I’ll be driving for the first time.
In DTM you had your own car. Now you share the car with three other drivers. How do you coordinate with your teammates?
It’s not us who have to plan and organise, it’s the team that decides the strategy prior to the race. They decide when we drive. This is a good base to start from but depending on the situation and conditions the plan and strategy can change during the race.
What do you eat during a race? I can’t imagine you having a big bowl of spaghetti in between stints.
During a race we have to be very conscious about what we eat and drink. We drink a lot, even when driving. Each car has a drinking system built in. Throughout the race I’ll eat little bits of food; a salad, or some chicken, around every three hours. But no big meals, just enough to stay energised.
Mechanics and engineers often get no sleep during a race. What about the drivers?
Most drivers get a maximum of three to four hours of sleep during a race like this. I personally struggle a bit with sleeping during a race because I have a hard time getting the adrenaline out of my body after my stint. I stay pumped for a long time.
Do you have a favourite moment during a 24-hour race?
I personally really like sunset and sunrise. Not only does it look amazing but it’s usually the time when the track temperature gets to that sweet spot when the tires are at peak performance and the cars become really fast.