Werner Lupberger Q&A

Werner Lupberger astonished onlookers at Le Mans last month by lapping his Ascari A410-Judd faster than the leading Audis during the early, wet hours of the morning. He is also rapidly carving a serious reputation for himself in the FIA Sportscar Championship where he and Ben Collins currently lie joint third in the burgeoning series. We caught up with the South African with the Stefan Bellof-style helmet

Werner Lupberger Q&A



"Yes, we are making progress all the time. The car has been constantly developed since last year and we were out testing at Snetterton last week with among other things a new diff, so hopefully at Magny-Cours this weekend we can make the breakthrough?"



"We've had a couple of podiums but, honestly, our luck has been so bad. Little things have come up in the races and that has denied us fighting for wins. We have to improve our qualifying and, if we do that, then we know that the time is right to fight with the big boys. It would be fantastic if I could thank the boys in the team with a win at Magny-Cours because they work unbelievably hard. For instance, the week before Le Mans they were sleeping at the factory on the foam we use to make the seats with! I have never known a bunch of guys care so much about the car and about winning and that makes for a great atmosphere in the team."



"Sure it is. Like I say, we must improve our qualifying and make sure the little problems don't occur. This championship is really competitive with guys like Nielsen, Lammers, Caffi and Gounon in it, but honestly I don't fear anyone at all. I respect them all of course, but I know that when I'm 'full on' then I am as quick as them and can mix it with the best. The Dome car is for sure the one to have at this stage in the championship but we can race with them like we have at all the events so far this year."



"I don't think so, no. I think I have matured and developed more as a driver in the last couple of years. In F3000 the team I was with [Edenbridge] were very much geared towards my team mate Max Wilson, but that was okay for me because I learnt so much from 'little Max'. He made me realise that I needed to be as fit as possible and to concentrate my mind on the job of being a professional racing driver. But essentially these sportscars are big single seaters. I love driving them, braking as late as possible and then carrying the speed through the corners just like 3000. I also tried an F1 car earlier this year. It was Klaas [Zwart]'s V12 Ferrari that he races in the Boss Championship and it was totally awesome. I only did a handful of laps but it felt superb and I soon got to grips with the brakes and the cornering speeds. I love the challenge of a new car and seem to be able to adapt quicker than most."



"Well, I enjoy racing in the wet, it's fun. Le Mans was great, I felt really comfortable and we got up to sixth place, which was exciting. I have always liked racing in the wet and I don't know what it is but I seem to be pretty quick."



"Maybe! My dad is German and was a big fan of his but it isn't really a tribute, it's just the colours I like and they fit in with the German flag but I think it's pretty distinctive. Some people also say it looks like Thierry Boutsen's too, but its not, it's most definitely Werner Lupberger's and I am proud to wear the South African flag on the back of it too."



"I finished second in the 1999 Italian F3000 championship and for 2000 I did three races in SR2 for John Bright who really funded it himself. Then when that finished I just had no money, and had actually packed my bags to return back to South Africa when the Ascari thing turned up out of the blue. Ironically, Max [Wilson] was driving for them and, when he got the Indycar ride, I got a test and then the drive. Klaas [Ascari team founder] has been fantastic and given me a great opportunity and I like to think I am making the most of it. But we won't be satisfied until we're on the top step of the podium."

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