Interview: Hartmut Kristen

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Interview: Hartmut Kristen 1
Interview: Hartmut Kristen 2

HK: At the moment, we are still investigating that, because when we started with this project, the framework had changed significantly. At the end of 2012, when we promised we would be back in 2014, we still thought that Sebring would be the first race. We also didn’t know that we would have to race at 2014 specs in the last race of 2013 and that the last race would be at the end of November. So between the final homologation and January, there is not a lot of time. It could well be that we take the cars from Bahrain and run Daytona with them, then build new cars for Sebring and exchange them. I don’t know whether this is necessarily the best way to start a racing season with a brand-new car.

KM: Let’s go on the assumption there will be new cars for Sebring and the remainder of the season. When you get ready for the WEC and Le Mans for next year, will we basically have the same equipment you are using for those races? I recall the silliness of Grand Am, having to change from center lock to five-bolt wheels, nonsense like that.

HK: In the past there was more freedom for the teams. Because of the fewer parts that are homologated, the more you can modify them within the rules as I mentioned before. In the meantime, homologation paperwork is about a hundred plus pages compared to the five pages in the past, so there is not a lot of freedom. You either have to keep the road car part as it is, or you have to homologate a new part and then there are very few things that are left over. We will definitely have to make adjustments in regard to some of the sporting regulations. But as long as we talk about the basic car responsible for the performance on the track, it will be identical.

KM: When will Porsche offer the new RSR to private teams? Usually there is a year of a factory team exclusivity for development and appraisal.

HK: Being responsible for customer racing, my mind hasn’t changed with regard to that over the last ten years. I honestly believe that no racing series can survive if it’s only based on manufacturer engagement; it simply doesn’t work. It looks good at the moment, but take the privateers out and you don’t have enough cars left. When you have customer cars, there is always a second example you can compare to, so you have to play it absolutely 100 percent straight, because you explain something and the steward can go to the other team and ask the exact same question and receive the same answer. If they get a different answer, then you are in big trouble.

KM: Then the current GT/AM category would be running last year’s car, the 997, for two years after the usual one-year factory team effort. You can’t offer them a 991 Cup car or the GT America. Basically, you’ve been put in a corner where the 991 RSR is going to have to be offered.

HK: Yes, we know that, but it seems like we are the only ones who know that.

KM: If you go back to Le Mans, even prewar, the fact is that amateurs always felt they could move up to a more professional level. Now with the strict structure of the amateur category, you end up saying, “This is it: you’re an amateur and you’re staying an amateur.” There has always been a mixing of on-track performance, and it used to be that an amateur had to raise his game to compete with a professional on his team. Now it’s almost a sort of dumbing down, because these teams will not be able to perform in a higher category without a new RSR.

HK: That’s why many are nervous whether we are going to offer the RSR to private teams. I believe the current regulations have positive elements but are not being thought out to the end. Short-term solutions should be applied long term; otherwise you don’t have stability. On the other hand, when you mix professional manufacturer programs with private programs, you want to be able to continue with your development. You need some freedom to continue working, to get exemptions and to homologate new parts, and at the end of the day that means everybody has to get the new parts.

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