Why do you focus on VLN and the ring, rather than other championships?
I love to challenge myself. People often say I’m a bit crazy for building my own car for VLN, and for racing as much as I do on the hardest track in the world, when there are much easier tracks to race on. But that’s the point. The ring sorts the men from the boys. Many modern tracks are so forgiving. They have chunks of concrete around the outside of corners to make sure that the drivers, literally, have room for errors. Combine that with modern technology, like stability management and traction control, and racing on most tracks is almost easy. At the “Ring”, on the other hand, there is a big slab of concrete in the middle, which is the track, and if you make a mistake there is a thin strip of grass to make sure you don’t slow down as you collide with the wall located two metres further out. And my car doesn’t have stability management or traction control. But to be honest there have been some hairy moments out there, which have made me wonder what I was doing there in the first place.
The Nürburgring is scary enough when you’re driving around it on your own. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like during a race. What was your most hair-raising moment during a competition?
A few years ago there was a fatal crash on the Nürburgring, and after that the committee behind the Nürburgring decided to impose some speed limits on the track. In some places the limit is 200kmph and then 250kmph at the Dottinger Höhe. If you break those limits you’ll be penalized. The only problem for us was that our Subaru STi’s ECU only allows for two speed limits to be set on the steering wheel. We already had one set for 60kmph in the pit lane and the slow zones, and another one for 200kmph. So we had to manage the 250kmph with our right foot. At one point during the 24h-race I was racing over Dottinger Höhe on a very foggy night, focusing on my speedo to keep within the limit, and when I looked up saw a car which had a puncture or something and was driving around at 50kmph. I just missed it by about a centimetre. That would’ve been a 200kmph impact.