A word from... Markus Winkelhock

Markus Winkelhock: "There is no other race [Spa 24 Hours] in the world in which about 60 GT3 sports cars meet."

Markus Winkelhock is returning in the Audi R8 LMS to the Spa 24 Hours as last year’s winner.

A year ago, you won the Spa 24 Hours for the first time together with René Rast and Laurens Vanthoor. What makes this endurance race so special?

There is no other race in the world in which about 60 GT3 sports cars meet. Competing in a field of eleven marques is a dream for the fans, as well as for us race drivers. Last year, we saw how challenging this competition is. After nearly 3,700 kilometers on track, we won with an advantage of just seven seconds. I’m happy about racing again with René and Laurens for Audi Sport Team WRT.

Audi developed a new R8 LMS for the 2015 season. The sports car won its first 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in May. What opportunities are you expecting to have with it at Spa?

The car is great to drive. It has become better in all areas and the customers for whom we developed it will enjoy it as well. Although the R8 LMS is production-based, it feels like a true race car. Traction control and ABS are much better than before, which is helpful especially across the 24-hour distance. At the Nürburgring, our team-mates proved that the car is capable of winning. Obviously, we’d like to be in contention for the top spot at Spa. But there’s also a slightly different balance of performance rating for the various race cars. Plus, we’re driving with a different tire manufacturer – Pirelli instead of Michelin – who is mandatory for all the participants. So we’ll be challenged. In addition, a 24-hour race is always completely unpredictable.

How are you personally preparing?

At the end of July, temperatures are typically very high. In contrast to the Nürburgring, where four of us were on the grid, only three drivers per car are allowed to compete at Spa. So, there’ll be a great physical strain on us across the distance. The fitness training was part of my preparation and in July we also familiarized ourselves in the new Audi R8 LMS with the circuit in the Ardennes in an official test. I’m optimistic but respect our opponents as well. There are quite a few teams in contention for victory – including our strong team-mates.

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About this article
Series Blancpain Endurance
Event 24 Hours of Spa
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Markus Winkelhock
Teams Audi Sport Team WRT
Article type Interview