RJ: That's difficult to answer. When I started at Joest in 1992 we had just two years of running the Porsche 962 in America and sometimes in Europe. In either case we didn't always run only professional driver pairings and had to work with drivers that brought money as well. And although these drivers have all been good race drivers it's different from the all-pro-Audi lineups we have used since the beginning.
Ec: Anything about the replacement for the R10?
RJ: Nothing I can say other than what Dr. Ullrich has stated, that the R15 will be a V8 TDI with a smaller, lighter engine and open cockpit.
Ec: Motorsport is certainly feeling the effects of the economic slowdown.
RJ: I hope the situation will quickly go back to normal; however, it's clear that Audi has to react to the current economic situation. But motorsport has been good for its image and those developments have been used for the road cars.
Point Man Of A Champion
Ec: I remember when you drove the truck for Porsche Motorsport and were doing on-track sales in what seems decades ago. How did this journey begin?
BK: I started working for Porsche Motorsport when we imported the truck from Germany in October 1998. I spent that summer working for them overseas and attending races and learning the process. Alwin Springer wanted me fully up to speed when we started the operation in the United States. He wanted someone who could work the truck, drive it, and fix it as well. Remember, the tractor was a Mercedes-Benz 1748, the only one in the country. If it broke, I had to fix it.
Ec: Crew chief has been eclipsed by the title of technical director, but it isn't simply word play--it's a far more difficult job. When did this all become noticeable to you?
BK: It's a different job now. The cars have become so technical and so demanding on the administrative side that the job has changed. During Champion's R8 days I filled both race engineer and tech director, but it was difficult. For me, this started to happen around 2001.
Ec: When you were running the Porsche GT-2, and later the GT-1, how many personnel did you have, and then onward to the Audi R8 and R10?
BK: Endurance racing has always taken a fair number of staff. Pit stops require at least seven. In the old days with the GT-2, the total team members for two cars might be 15. In the GT-1 era, maybe twenty for two cars. Today our crew can be 45 or more depending on the event. The people actually working on the car remain about the same, it's just the specialists and support staff are higher in number. For example, we now have catering people, I.T. specialists, telemetry and so on.
Ec: How do you prepare for a race weekend, both personally and with your team?
BK: I read last year's reports. I think about the circuit. I try to be practical about our strengths and weaknesses. I try to greet each member and put forth positive energy. Our organization has a lot of momentum when it's running well and I try to keep that going. I talk to my sons on the phone; that puts bookends on the event and gives me focus.
Ec: You're a veteran in the U.S. scene but have also done well in Europe, especially Le Mans. What are the major differences over here versus over there? And what do you count among your top successes in that type of theater?