Our friend Andrew Mara from Audi Australia had a chance to sit down with Markus after the Bathurst 12. Most of the chat was about that race, though he also touched upon the controversial standings at the Rolex 24. Text is below.
What are your impressions on the Mt Panorama Street Circuit?
It was just amazing. Before I drive the track I watched a couple of laps on YouTube and you could see from that it’s a really challenging race track. For the first five laps I was driving like a beginner because it was so hard to learn the track and then at one point you start to get used to it and it starts being fun. From that point you’re getting quick around the track. At the beginning I was really scared of the track. It was really challenging; especially the fast parts, the uphill parts. There are blind corners and it takes many laps to learn exactly how fast you can go because it’s blind.
You raced a double stint at the end of the race, what was the strategy there?
With about four hours to the end we decided I would do that because I was the fastest driver and I should finish the race. At the end it didn’t make that much difference because with the safety cars towards the end the water temperatures started to get high and the gap to the car in front was over one minute and we got left behind. There wasn’t much left to do at that stage, just bring the car home.
How uncomfortable were the in-car temperatures today?
That last stint was very hot, I have to say, but I did expect it to be worse.
You mentioned yesterday after practice that traffic would play a part in the race. Did you get much clean air today?
There was a lot of traffic yesterday and it was very hard to get a clean lap, but this morning the first stint in the car after the start was quite OK. My second stint, however, I didn’t get one free lap for the entire hour I was out there. There was a lot of traffic. Towards the end was the same, and with the slower cars you have to be really careful because sometimes you think they’ve seen you, you dive in and they close the apex. It’s pretty dangerous when that happens here because at most of the turns on The Mountain you have the wall either side. The speed difference with the Fiats was quite big so it wasn’t easy sometimes.
Is that kind of thing unique to Australia?
This is quite similar in Europe. The 24 Hour at the Nurburgring Nordschleife there are a lot of Polos and Volkswagen Golfs and we are running in the GT 3 cars, so the speed difference is quite big. If the drivers in the slow cars are experienced and they know what they are doing and where they are going when they are getting out of way of the fast cars, then everything is OK. When they aren’t very experienced, you have to be very careful.
What is the main difference across the globe?
Temperatures in the car! In Germany it’s not all that hot. Apart from that, the atmospheres everywhere are a bit different and it’s quite nice to experience the differences between the tracks and the crowds. In Australia the whole atmosphere was really nice, the fans and everyone was just so friendly and this is something I really liked. This is different again in America, which is also great to experience for me because it’s something new.
Speaking of America, you’ve just come off a bit of disappointment there at Daytona. How did that leave you feeling?
Yes of course, it’s not good to lose hours after the race, but at the end of the day I have to say that I think the decision was OK. We didn’t touch. He tried to push me a little to the outside, but I would have tried to do the same in his position. We were fighting for the victory… it was a tough fight, a hard fight, but the rules are if you don’t touch it’s OK. I don’t want to be a sore loser.
We heard a rumour that you got to keep the Rolex…