Ec: Joest Racing's record of is full of success with Porsche, but the Audi years have been overwhelming. Take us to 1998 when this all came about with Ingolstadt.
RJ: This story is quite funny. Near the end of 1997 we were asking for work from Porsche but they decided to use their own team to run the FIA GT, and after 1998 there was no major program. Audi was about to start the Le Mans project and there was a flip chart in Dr. Ullrich's office with a list of teams. Nobody called us because they thought we were still linked with Porsche. When we heard rumors about the project, Reinhold called Dieter Basche, former head of Audi Sport. A few moments later we had a call from Dr. Ullrich and a few days later we met in Ingolstadt.
Ec: Was the R10 as big an adjustment to make as the R8 was from the original R8R?
RJ: Not really. The adjustment to the chassis itself was not much different to other times when you get a completely new car. The biggest difference has been the amount of data, not only from the engine side but also from the chassis [using a different data acquisition system than with the R8], and the number of people involved to handle the data. The differences between a diesel-powered car and a standard gas-powered car like the R8 or R8R have been surprisingly small.
Ec: Can you take us through the preparations you make as technical director on a typical race weekend?
RJ: The main task is to make sure the cars are prepared properly after the last run. You also have to check the remaining mileage of parts within the car. After studying data from past races on that specific track and after going through some simulation runs for your car and the cars from the opposition (as well as you can), you come up with items to be checked and tested during practice sessions. The work has to be split between the two or three cars and a detailed plan is set up. This is done with the race engineers; by that time we also define the starting setup for the first session. A very important point is the contact with the tire manufacturer to include that information and requirements in the planning.
Ec: In your opinion, what makes a successful race team?
RJ: Attention to detail and 100-percent commitment of everybody involved. You also need as much experience as possible, but it is also important that you have people who can share their knowledge with the younger guys that you always need to bring up. It's vital that every single team member has full understanding of the importance of his work and takes full responsibility for it, no matter what it is. You need to be prepared for as many situations as possible and try to make problems appear as another standard situation.
Ec: It's almost been a decade of Audi participation on the prototype world stage. What have been the high points for you personally?
RJ: I am really happy with and proud of the way Audi Sport and its team works together. When the Audi people think about us it is as if we were part of the Audi Sport group, and the same is true the other way around. In terms of results, I have to say the first and the last Audi wins in Le Mans. The first because it was the first, the last because it was a race where you couldn't afford to miss a single beat--and we didn't. It was clear before the race that we only had three items to answer: Peugeot's reliability, strategy and pit work. While Audi definitely gave us the reliability, the strategy and pit work was up to us as a team. Our team performed 100 percent. I also enjoyed the years in America running the ALMS because despite the stress of flying a lot it brought the whole team together more than the "shorter" race weekends in Europe would.
Ec: Compare some of the driver pairings of the Audi prototypes to the pairings you ran with Porsche.