Timo Bernhard built his sportscar reputation with Porsche, where he won two LMP2 class titles in the American Le Mans Series. But he is now part of former arch-rival Audi's LMP1 line-up, and is racing the R15 Plus for the first time at Spa this weekend.
AUTOSPORT spoke to Bernhard about his weekend so far.
Q. Spa is something is in one of these cars isn't it?
Timo Bernhard: Well I tell you the experience with the US tracks helps a lot here - with the quick corners and everything. For sure to come here for the first time in an LMP car you need a lot of experience with a prototype because with the high-speed corners you need to really capture the downforce and everything. Going through Eau Rouge is quite impressive.
Q. Is Audi running a Le Mans set-up this weekend?
TB: Yes. The main target for us is really Le Mans, this race is like a rehearsal before Le Mans.
Q. On Friday you were a long way off the Peugeots and it looked as though you were not focusing on Spa.
TB: If you looked at the lap times for sure we were way off. But I also have to say that in the first practice it was wet so it was hard to judge. Also they have the advantage that they raced here last year. So they have much more data. I don't know how much their car changed from last year to this year but for sure there was a transition in the data.
Q. What are the specific roles of your crew this weekend?
TB: I need to become one with the team. I know the crew from testing, I know the race engineer and I know the drivers obviously. I mean Romain [Dumas] I raced have raced with a long time and Rocky [Mike Rockenfeller] I know from Porsche, but the plan is to become really united with the team and so far I feel really comfortable.
We have a good young crew that are all really focused during the tyre and pitstop practice. We also have a young engineer but still with a lot of experience so our team is strong.
Q. Last year was a disappointment in terms of results. Do you feel the need to establish yourself against the team regulars still?
TB: Every driver for sure wants to set his own mark, that is racing. We have a very strong line-up, but I have to say as a driver you can learn a lot from Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. I am still a lot younger so there is much to gain from learning. I find it is very nice because they also give us respect for what we achieved with Porsche.
Q. For many years you were their key rivals in the Porsche RS Spyder.
TB: There is a lot of respect on both sides and I like this. There is healthy competition in the team. You need this. If it is in this way it is for the whole team to benefit.