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Catching Up With Robert Renauer: Owner, Driver, Title Contender

Successful in the ADAC GT Masters as well as the 24h Series and other championships, the Herberth Motorsport team is run by the Renauer twins, Alfred and Robert. Both of them gifted racers, the former will concentrate on a managerial role this year while the latter has the German GT title in his sights:

Alfred-Robert-Renaur

“He will still drive in the 24h Series but other than that, he’ll be the team manager. We share the workload at home in the workshop 50:50, as well as the testing and the technical side of things; I am very glad that Alfred takes that pressure off me at the racetrack, so I can fully concentrate on the driving.“

Does owning the team and driving the car equal twice the pressure?

“If I didn’t have my brother I don’t think I’d have the confidence to do it. These are two important roles in the team – you can either do one or the other. If in the back of your mind, while you are driving the car, you still worry if everything around the team is running smoothly, you can’t fully keep your mind on the driving anymore. And it is the same the other way round, when you work on organisational matters and keep an eye on what the mechanics are doing – you cannot get in the car and compete on the same level with the other pro drivers.“

In the back of your mind, do you as a driver also harbour the thought that mishaps might be expensive for you as a team co-owner?

“That’s always there – you just have to find the right compromise. It is part of the overall risk. I am not one to try kamikaze manoeuvres, even when I’m driving someone else’s car – and certainly not with my own! I have been driving competitively for 12 years now, so I have a certain experience; I know how to handle myself on the track.“

Speaking of money, how tough is it to find the necessary budget to go racing in this day and age?

“It varies. The cars have certainly become more and more expensive. For a season in GT Masters, you have to raise half a million Euros, and that’s without the car. We are happy to have a partnership with Precote that is in its tenth year now. You can always find smaller sponsors but if you want to get funding for a series such as the GT Masters together, with a pro team mate like Martin Ragginger, then you need a major partner.“

Apropos Mr. Ragginger, the two of you have been team mates before.

“Martin and I have had great success together in 2013; and we also get along on the personal level. These are things that are very important for me – a team mate I can rely on, that I have a constant exchange of views with, and someone I also want to go and have a beer with of one evening!“

But at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, you will be opponents.

“Yes but I will share a car with two amateur drivers for whom it is about the experience, and getting to the end. Martin will be part of a fully professional team, we won’t stand a chance against them.“

In the ADAC Masters, can a pro-am team still hope to get any major results?

“This year, we are expecting to see 35 entries (in ADAC GT Masters), a pro-am team will end up finishing in around 25th position, and of course that’s no fun. Whereever we go, we want to win, that’s what keeps it exciting.“

However, your team is still active in the pro-am scene such as the 24h Series or Germany’s Porsche Sports Cup. Is this where you go to make money?

“We are also going for wins in the 24h Series – last year, we had two professional drivers and three amateurs on the team; we have moved to three pros and two amateurs for 2016. It increases our chances of overall wins.“

Renaur-Porsche-Cup

Recent ADAC GT seasons have seen lacklustre entries, at least in terms of quantity. How are things shaping up this year?

“There is a surprising number of entries for GT Masters. We expect to see 30 to 35 cars, for the most part with seriously strong drivers. It seems that the ADAC has managed to buck the recent trend, and get a top level field together.“

Your new car is once again a Porsche – why?

“We had a few discussions on the subject last year but ultimately, we do have a connection with that brand and we trust in their concept. We have taken delivery of the car and run a first test last week; there is some little work to do but the bottom line is that we are very pleased with what we have. The first joint series test will be in early April.“

Herberth-Porsche-1

How will the new 911 stack up against its competition?

“Honestly, it is still too early to say that. It all depends on the performance balancing. DMSB tries to match the cars as closely as possible, and we hope they will get it done, and we will be in the fight for the win at Oschersleben.“ (the traditional ADAC GT Masters season opener)

Herberth-Porsche-2

GT3 equals BoP, which equals frustration, form a driver’s and a car owner’s perspective, what is your take on the subject?

“I’d say that the way ADAC has handled BoP in recent seasons hasn’t been bad. Trouble was that the manufacturers, in part, didn’t play it straight when it came to performance balancing. At the season openers at Oschersleben, we would be in 2nd place in terms of top speeds whereas others – who were at that point really slow on the straights – would find pace toward the end of the year; and that can only be related to the engine mapping. In that sense, the ADAC must accept some blame for not being able to correctly detect such things, not having the means to look for and then punish irregularities.“

Is that even possible?

“There are several devices for data collection and supposedly, there are also the people who can work with this data; as for why it isn’t done, that’s another question. In America, they’ve found a good way of doing things – the engines are run on the dyno, each with its specific air restrictor. In case of a post-race discrepancy or a protest, the engine goes back to the dyno, with that air restrictor. And if the engine shows up as suddenly having 30 horsepower more, then you know something can’t be right. This is how it should be handled in Europe as well. – To be very clear, BoP is not an easy matter to handle. ADAC and FIA don’t have it easy. Perhaps they should monitor even more closely what happens with the performance of the various engines over the course of the year.“

Turning our attention to your pro-am racing programme, how many cars do you campaign in the Porsche Sports Cup?

“This year, we are looking at three or four cars; one of them will be a GT3 R while the others are Cup cars.“

Are there still enough “ams“ with the necessary budget and enthusiasm out there?

“My feeling is that in Germany, right now there are fewer of them. Interestingly enough, we have more drivers from Southern Europe, but also from Switzerland and Britain. It is a strange trend. But the amateurs are still out there, they are active, and we are glad to have sportsman drivers who put their energy and passion into motor racing. They keep us alive!“

Johannes Gauglica