Mike Rockenfeller could have completed nine world tours in 2005, but his travel took him racing instead. The German Porsche factory driver, now a Monaco resident, competed in 27 races at 22 tracks in 12 countries, in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He was rewarded with a championship, 10 victories and 17 podium finishes.
Rockenfeller logged about 360,000 travel kilometres (223,690 miles) in 2005 -- the equivalent of circling the globe nine times. He spent 350 hours on 50 flights covering 320,000 kilometres (198,840 miles), drove 35,000 kilometres (21,750 miles) in his company Porsche and added 5000 kilometres (3100 miles) in rental cars. He spent 190 nights away from home and stayed in 40 hotels.
"During the season, I just look to the next weekend, the next event, the next flight, so somehow it gets by me, I don't really count it. It's quite interesting now to count all the numbers and to realize how many times I could have flown around the world, especially at my age . If I compare to my parents, they fly maybe two hours a year," Rockenfeller said.
He noted more time is consumed by flight arrangements, hotel and rental-car reservations, immigration requirements and entry visas, missed or delayed flights and lost luggage.
"There's a lot of stuff you have to think about if you travel around the world. It's not the part I like about racing. The traveling makes me feel exhausted. It's not the racing -- I could race every day, because I really like it. For me, to be in the car, around the team and around my friends in the paddock, that's what I enjoy. I'm already looking forward to next year, but it's good to have a break now."
At 21, Rockenfeller became the youngest driver to win an FIA GT Championship title, collecting three pole positions, six victories, 10 podium finishes and four fastest race laps to share the 2005 GT2 class championship with Marc Lieb of Ludwigsburg, Germany. Rockenfeller and Lieb also combined with Leo Hindery, Jr. of New York to win the GT2 class in les 24 Heures du Mans with a record race pace. Rockenfeller added the class pole position and fastest race lap.
Rockenfeller's 2005 schedule included four 24-hour races. He won the GT2 class in les 24 Heures du Mans and the 24 Hours of Spa, qualified second in the A7 class in the 24-h Rennen Nurburgring and raced a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He also drove selected races in the American Le Mans Series (and earned three GT2 podiums), the Le Mans Endurance Series (one GT2 pole, one win, two fastest race laps) and the Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nurburgring endurance series (two wins).
"It was my first year as a factory driver for Porsche, not a junior driver," he noted. "To win Le Mans was the biggest thing; also to win the FIA championship as the youngest driver was very nice! In the ALMS, the development program with Yokohama Tire was interesting, and the Nordschleife [VLN] was great. It was almost too many races, but it was good for my first year. I got a lot of experience, a lot of seat time, a lot of time to prove myself. I enjoyed it!"