Rockenfeller: Traffic key to race

Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller believes that dealing with traffic will be more critical than usual in deciding the outcome of the Spa 1000km this weekend

Rockenfeller: Traffic key to race

Every official session during the Spa weekend, which is the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, has been red flagged, some of the stoppages being as a result of collisions between drivers of LMP1 cars and those in the slower categories.

Audi suffered a setback in the opening practice session when Benoit Treluyer spun into the tyres while lapping a slower GTE car, while Pedro Lamy damaged his Peugeot heavily after making contact with Mike Newton's LMP2 class RML HPD later on Thursday.

Rockenfeller, whose R18 was put on pole position by his co-driver Timo Bernhard during qualifying, thinks that the 54-car entry will highlight the importance of decisive driving in traffic.

"It's the same number of cars at Le Mans, except on a circuit half the length," Rockenfeller told AUTOSPORT. "Also, we don't have the [Mulsanne] straight, like at Le Mans, which is where you can overtake a lot of cars easily.

"Compare Spa to Sebring, and the corners are mostly faster, so there's less chance to pass someone on the brakes. Also, if you're behind a slower car at Eau Rouge or Blanchimont, you just have to follow and you could maybe lose three seconds in one corner.

"Of course you want less slower cars to pass, because, especially around Spa, you just want to enjoy the race, but that's always been a part of endurance racing and it's the same for everybody."

Rockenfeller's Audi team-mate Allan McNish, whose R18 will start third thanks to Tom Kristensen's effort in qualifying, thinks that changes to engine rules this year regarding LMP1 diesels will also have an effect on his ability to pass lapped cars.

"We're slower in a straight line than we were last year, so the difference in speed between us and them [FLM and GTE cars], isn't as big," he told AUTOSPORT.

"Also it's narrower than Le Mans or Sebring here and you get some FLM and GTE cars that just kind of float into the middle of the track on the straights and that doesn't help either.

Andy Priaulx, whose factory BMW will start seventh in the GTE Pro category, agrees that dealing with lappery will be key during the race.

"They [LMP drivers] aren't going to get many clear laps, but then, neither are we," he told AUTOSPORT.

"It can actually be quite difficult for us in GTE because now we're so quick in a straight line - quicker than some of the FLM cars sometimes - but then we have less aero in the corners, so you have your speed at different points.

"It's going to be an interesting race and I think the guys that win will be the ones that keep out of trouble."

shares
comments
Bernhard gives Audi pole at Spa
Previous article

Bernhard gives Audi pole at Spa

Next article

Peugeot defends qualifying strategy

Peugeot defends qualifying strategy
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Plus

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Autosport recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

WEC
Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021