ec: With the transition to using 3R, did you have the same personnel in place with the new S60s for 2009?
JH: Well, 3R has been in the business for years, Bob Raub was racing Trans-Am cars back in the ’70’s and Will Moody has been around for years. It so happened that 3R lost their drivers and they were looking for work, so we hired Will Moody for the engineering work and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was working with the wrong team. I bought new cars from Porsche, had 3R come pick them up, do all the modifications and build the cars for the season. We had Michael Gilati and Randy Pobst and there we go, we got a crew, we got drivers and we got a car. And we got a championship.
ec: Since you had professionals in Michael and Randy, what were their impressions in going from all-wheel drive and front engine to a 911?
JH: Randy did not have a problem, Randy has been a Porsche driver for years. Where he had to make an adjustment was going from the Porsche to the Volvo. Michael is a good guy but I think he had a lot of trouble with the transition and I don’t think he ever figured it out. Randy just fit right in, it was like putting on old boots or gloves or something for him.
ec: The reason I asked is it’s always interesting to find out how teammates, when they share the information on setups, both coming from different directions, from a Porsche to a Volvo, what’s compatible for them and what isn’t.
JH: It’s not compatible, they didn’t like the cars set up the same way at all. It’s communication. Pobst is so good at feedback for what he wants and what the car is doing, he and Will Moody clicked at that. Michael Galati wasn’t as specific so he ends up driving the car the way it is instead of trying to make it better sometimes. Maybe due to the Italian and English, we never could get the car precisely what he wanted because he couldn’t tell us exactly what he wanted.
ec: Well, for a lot of drivers the sweet spot is something that is not really described. Luis Diaz is a brilliant prototype driver but simply could not come to terms with driving a GT, it was a completely foreign concept. Galati may have been thinking “I’ll just get in it and drive and we’ll keep adjusting it until it’s right” and feedback wasn’t his thing. I believe that you can’t program the human element and the driver is going to tell you what you cannot pick up from any sensor, any probe or any telemetry.
JH: Both are critical. We separate the drivers when we do a download because we don’t want what one says influencing the other one. Then we take what they say and we look at the data too and compare the two. It can be enlightening.
ec: Well, how did you handle the development, you got the tubs from Sweden and were delivered to Colorado and then the prep starts. You are almost to some degree, your own manufacturer.
JH: Absolutely, there are a lot of people involved with the Volvo, we just took that a step further. The chassis design was done by 3R, they are very good at building cars. They reduced as much weight in the tubs as they could. The unibody has been strengthened considerably. The same detail has been applied to the drivetrain, Mahle does the motors, the areas of concern from 2006, you learn which direction to go.
ec: Some examples?
JH: I think almost every single part, like the uprights. In 2006, one of the things that happened right away in testing was the right front spindle broke and the car went into a wall. In racing, this is a component that cannot fail. So we started over and we used an engineering company in Colorado that helped us design new uprights, hubs and all the suspension geometry.