“Andre Lotterer: Conquering of the forests”

Audi were out in force at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, so it is no surprise that at least one of the Pro Cup entries picked up the overall win at the end of twenty-four hours.

Unfortunately for Andre Lotterer, the win did not fall the way of him or teammate Marcel Fassler and Tom Kristensen.

Indeed, the challenge of the #6 Audi Team Phoenix machine was stunted rather early on. The German was carelessly collected by a pitting Adam Christodoulou just sixty minutes into the Total Spa 24 Hour Race, damaging the left front suspension in the process.

Thirty minutes were lost as the Audi crew frantically worked to repair the damage to the suspension; however the incident left the entry many laps behind.
As the chequered flag dropped on Sunday, Lotterer’s team climbed back up to 6th, but the disappointment was clear to see across the pitlane.

Before the race, I caught up with Andre to gather his thoughts about the event, night racing and of Spa itself.

The Motorsport Archive: Welcome to sunny Spa-Francorchamps, which is quite a bit different from what it was like a couple of hours ago.
You were brought up in Duisberg, Germany – a city which, I suppose, is not that far from Francorchamps. What memories do you have of this circuit from your younger days when you started racing?

Andre Lotterer: The first time I drove here was when I was 17 in Formula Renault Eurocup and then at the [2002] 24 Hours of Spa with Porsche GT3 RSR and finished 3rd in the category and then back here in 2010 with Audi for the 1000kms, so it’s not so new now.
My father had a race team, and was the race of the year for his race team, so for me it’s very nice to come here and I remember being around here all the time, so it’s nice to come here. It’s very emotional, there’s a lot of good memories and it’s nice to be here with Audi.

TMA: Racing in such changeable conditions, how much of a challenge does that present to you as a driver, especially if the changes are such polar opposites?

AL: The change is the same for everybody. It depends what time you are on the track – if you are on the track in the right window, you can always change to wet tyres and you are in a good position, but if you out on slicks, it’s not such a good position. The challenge is always the same no matter what situation you’re in.

TMA: The storm we witness earlier was impressive to say the least.

AL: For sure, here it’s always a little bit more difficult considering that [in Spa] I had never driven in this kind of rain or in changeable conditions, so I would need a little adaption time, but this car has ABS, which helps.
We’re used to this – it’s something we’re born with, through go-karts and so on; you just have to be careful.

TMA: You’ve had quite a bit of experience with night-time racing, at Le Mans for example. Although there was not a whole lot of it in the run up to this weekend, how did you find the night-time driving at Spa?

AL: It was good. I drove here ten years ago at the 24 Hours of Spa, so I had to remember a little at night what it looked like. It’s always nice around here; it’s a good feeling.
Night driving is always nice. We had to adjust the lights, they were not perfect and also it’s difficult, because people miss apexes, go wide and the track gets really dirty, so there are a lot of things happening, but we stayed out of trouble and gained more experience for the race.

TMA: There’s also driver quality here too. GT racing has had its share of issues over the years, but in terms of driver quality, it’s probably the best it has been in some time.

AL: Yeah, I haven’t been a big follower of GT3, but I saw the build-up in the last few years with a lot of brands getting involved due to the rules, with a lot of professional drivers, which is good to see.
And it’s good that – here at Spa – when you compete, you want to compete against competitive people as well and it’s good to see a lot of big names here.

TMA: Some fun then?

AL: It makes for some good quality racing.

No doubt, Andre Lotterer will return next year to finally conquer the 24 Hours of Spa. To keep track of Andre, you can follow him on Twitter or at his website (when it’s up and running).

My thanks to Paul Davies for arranging this interview at rather short notice.  Post-race coverage of the 2012 Total 24 Hour Race can be found here.

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