Thursday, July 16, 2015

Q/A: Interview with Christopher Haase - GT Daytona points leader in TUSC

By Tarek Ramchani

Christopher Haase is having a very successful 2015 season so far. The talented German Audi factory driver is leading the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the demanding TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. He is also competing in selected European races in Blancpain Endurance Series and French GT Tour.

We recently had a chat with Christopher Haase about his North American campaign with Paul Miller Racing and more.

You just clinched a great GTD podium with Paul Miller Racing at the 6 Hours of the Glen, tell us more about your race weekend.

All I can say is "what a race"! :-) We had the worst weather conditions which you can have. 'Slick' tyres on a damp track for the race start.

During the race, 'slicks' with it drizzling. In the closing stages, rain - no sorry, make that heavy rain! I was on rain tyres but the car would aquaplane under heavy acceleration even in a straight line. The conditions were very, very difficult. :-) For a couple of minutes, there was also a Red Flag stoppage because we couldn´t follow the Safety Car as it was impossible to see the rain lights of the cars in front. So it was a good choice to put out the Red Flag for safety reasons. After some minutes the weather improved a little and we went back to racing. But many cars went off the track causing more Safety Car periods. Indeed the last lap of the race was completed behind the Safety Car and I was very thankful for that. :-)

We always put the focus on ourselves and this was the key during the race to finish on the podium. And of course thanks to Paul Miller Racing for a great job in truly difficult conditions.

You are sharing the #48 Audi R8 LMS with Dion von Moltke, how is the work split between the two of you during race weekends?

There is nothing special. We have the same feeling of the car, so we always set-up the Audi in the same direction. We share all of our information which brings us closer as a team. He is a great team-mate and we also have fun together out of the car. ;-)

How strong is the competition in GT Daytona within the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship?

It is strong. Very strong. There are good drivers and teams in the series. They all know how they have to work in the Tudor. If you look to the championship points than you can get a feeling how strong it is. Each race is a new, big challenge.

How different is the new Audi R8 LMS (GT3) compared to the all conquering Audi R8 LMS ultra?

It is a big difference but a very positive one. :-) The new car is much easier to drive - I love it :-) . There is a better range to set-up the car for different driving styles and great interior cooling. But the drivability was the main focus to improve. The up and down shifting is much better, the traction control is supersensitive, and now we have the important buttons on the steering wheel. For the long distance races, when there are multiple drivers sharing a car, there is now the possibility to change the pedalbox to get the best possible seat position for each driver. And of course the new R8 LMS just looks amazing. :-)

This year you will not compete in the Spa 24 Hours (clash with Lime Rock TUSC race), what are Audi chances in the event with the new car?

Unfortunately that's true. In future the Tudor series and the 24h of Spa race should find a schedule that doesn't clash. We already showed at the 24hN├╝rburgring that our new Audi is capable of winning a 24h race. But remember it is still a brand new car, so we shouldn´t think too much about winning. The car has great performance and without any issues, I'm sure they will fight for the victory. I will cross my fingers for them. :-)

Blancpain Endurance Series vs TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which series is more demanding?

The two championships are difficult to compare. In BES there are around 65 GT3 cars. To race in such a big field is great but also physical. There is never a 'free' lap. And to overtake a [GT3] car with your own [GT3] car is not easy. Each car/brands have different advantages and disadvantages around a track, so a driver must figure out the optimum place to overtake and of course this changes on each race track.

Whereby in the Tudor series, there are GTD, GTLM, PC, LMP2, DP cars. In your own class, you have the same issues like in BES with different cars/brands. But these cars don´t have ABS or TC plus less downforce, making them more difficult to drive than a GT3-specification car. There are less cars in he GTD class but on the other hand, there are the faster GTLM, LMP2 and DP cars on track - none of which want to loose any time behind a slower class car. Often in a race there is the scenario of fighting with a car in my class but then suddenly faster class cars, themselves fighting for position, are in my mirrors. To find the right balance on track is very difficult. Sometimes you are just in the wrong place [corner] at the wrong time which can effect your race either in a negative or positive way.

So both championships have a different style of racing - one is not more demanding than the other. But if you want to win, it will be never easy!

Photo credit: Paul Miller Racing / Audi Media / Blancpain GT Series