Klaus Ludwig Q&A

After a career spanning four decades, and a comeback this year Frank Sinatra would have been proud of, Klaus Ludwig has hung up his helmet. And this time, he insists, it's for keeps. He won the Le Mans 24 Hours three times in 1979, '84 and '85, won five German saloon titles - including two DTM crowns - and has raced all over the world. On the day he announced his retirement, he took time out to speak to Autosport.com

Klaus Ludwig Q&A


"The decision was actually taken last year. When the DTM started again I said 'OK, I'll come back and race again but just for a season'. To win two races and finish third this year, considering my age, was brilliant. I had the feeling it's time to do other things. I wanted to say this at Hockenheim [the final round] but I didn't want to detract from the championship, so I decided to wait a little before I announced anything. But now it's time to say I won't race again."


"No, it's absolutely not possible when you're 51-years-old. If I could win it would be brilliant for me, but a big shame for the others! You could argue I could do normal races, but sprint races at this level, with 20 guys out there who want to win, it's impossible. You must be fair to yourself and say that's it."


"I would say Marcel Fassler did a very good job. He had all the luck on his side but he's a fantastic young guy and a brilliant race driver. I'm keen to see how he does next year. Thomas Jager was poor on the mental side. He was a bit weak and made some mistakes. He didn't really find the speed of the others except for a few occasions. He deserves another chance next year, and then we can judge what his future is.

"Marcel Tiemann looks set for ChampCar racing, which is brilliant for him. He asked me if I think he should do it and I said yes. If I was young like him, what the hell, I would take the chance! We shouldn't forget he won the Monaco F3 race and he's a talented young guy. Why shouldn't he be in the middle of the pack? That would be fantastic to see in his first year over there."

"Peter Dumbreck is a highly talented guy. He had his ups and downs, like everyone else. We all know he came here after some brilliant years in Japan and, for sure, he's one of the guys of the future. Darren Turner surprised me that he didn't get his act together. He's got Formula 1 testing experience...I don't know. He's a charming young man, and I really like him, but he didn't seem to concentrate enough. If he gets another chance next year he's got to focus on what he's doing, because the talent is there, for sure."


"The DTM is not over the mountain yet, but it was a very good beginning for the first year back. Next year will be even tougher because Audi has got to get its act together next year - it needs more freedom with the car's aerodynamics. They should be more competitive than before, which will be good. Opel has the best engine, so if they build the right car around this engine then they are going to be very tough contenders. It will be a very good championship next year. We're going to see 20 very good cars and some privateers with this year's cars. What more can you expect from one season?"


"The competition is the same. The technical side is not as demanding as it was, but this is good because it cuts costs. I especially like the engine regulation where you have to stick with the same one all season, because that will attract lots of privateer teams. It means it is a cheap way to go racing, if you compare it with Super Touring in terms of engine rebuilds. If you miss a shift with a two-litre engine it blows up - in the DTM they live forever! Being able to run a season on the same set of brakes makes it cheap too. All you need to run high in the field is a good driver, a good crew chief and a good engineer...I wonder if Prodrive will come with a car next year - that would be good.


"I'm talking to TV companies, but all that stuff is not quite signed."


"No, no, no. Nurburgring is an amateur race with 150 cars and as for Daytona, no - I really stop. You will not see me in a race car again unless it's for an exhibition run. I finished in '98 as GT World Champion. I only came back because Mercedes and Norbert Haug asked me to do it for the good of the championship. Now, my racing career is finished."


"Winning the Le Mans 24 Hours three times has to be the biggest highlight. Those victories helped my career a lot, and they're very good to look back on. Then again, being five times German champion is not bad, nor is winning the GT World Championship. And all the times when I was in America, and won races in IMSA, were fantastic. I really loved racing in the US. I loved learning about the country, the people, the atmosphere of American racing. I still feel that in Europe we can learn a lot from the Americans about this. When I look back I am totally happy."


"I think it's unbelievable that I never hurt myself, and for that I am very thankful. I drove some dangerous cars like Porsche's 956 and 962..I mean, shit, a lot of guys died in those. I was so f*****g lucky."


"I'm at the age where I can relax and look back. There's a lot of things to do. I hope I can use my expertise in some other places, because that would make me proud. I'm stopping racing but I'll still be in the paddock for sure."

shares
comments
King Klaus bids farewell…again

Previous article

King Klaus bids farewell…again

Next article

Huisman and Maylander join Merc ranks

Huisman and Maylander join Merc ranks
Load comments
The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive Plus

The number-crunching behind the new-look DTM's equalisation drive

Switching to GT3 regulations marked a fresh start for the DTM in 2021, but it has also drawn a line in the sand against other series using similar cars by engaging AVL Racing to develop a bespoke Balance of Performance system. Here’s how it works

DTM
Jul 23, 2021
The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars Plus

The initial verdict on DTM's move to GT3 cars

OPINION: Facing collapse last year, the DTM has shifted its philosophy from a championship for silhouette-based touring cars to GT machines not too dissimilar to those racing across multiple series worldwide. But despite some initial BoP-based teething troubles, there were some pleasant findings as the 'new DTM' got underway at Monza

DTM
Jun 22, 2021
Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM Plus

Why Albon has his work cut out in the new-look DTM

The DTM moves into its bold new GT3 era with welcome support from Red Bull, which enters two AF Corse-run Ferraris. That includes one for ex-F1 driver Alex Albon, who’s determined to make a success of his GT switch - but he knows it won't be easy...

DTM
Jun 17, 2021
The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king Plus

The slow-burner threatening to unseat Audi's DTM king

It's taken him a while to emerge as a consistent title challenger, but in the final year of DTM's Class One rule set, Nico Muller has smoothed the rough edges and has double champion stablemate Rene Rast working harder than ever to keep up in the title race

DTM
Oct 13, 2020
How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror Plus

How a DTM failure became an unlikely Nurburgring conqueror

Opel's fortunes in the DTM had taken a turn for the worst by 2003 - hardly the pedigree that suggested it could take on the toughest 24-hour race of them all. But that's exactly what it did

DTM
Sep 23, 2020
The season that revitalised a sleeping giant Plus

The season that revitalised a sleeping giant

On the 20th anniversary of the resumption of hostilities in the DTM, Autosport revisits a classic season that brought a staple of German motorsport back to life with a bang and set in motion the careers of some notable names

DTM
May 28, 2020
Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis? Plus

Does 2000 hold the answers to DTM's current crisis?

It's 20 years since the DTM roared back into life at a packed Hockenheim with a back-to-basics approach as the antidote to its high-tech past. Now it's on its knees again, so is it time to recall the lessons learned in 2000?

DTM
May 28, 2020
The last-chance saloon of Germany's forgotten tin-top champions Plus

The last-chance saloon of Germany's forgotten tin-top champions

The Opel Vectra GTS was the last in the line of the marque's DTM challengers, but failed to hit the lofty heights of its predecessors when financial constraints hit

DTM
May 15, 2020