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Interview with Mark Webber: & # 34; respect for distance & # 34;

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Interview with Mark Webber
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What is different this year than 2014?

W ebber: This time I got into my rhythm much easier. Because I already knew the route from last year. It's a long round. There are accordingly many little tricks. You get four times six rounds in training. That sounds like a lot. But it is not. Because you can never really concentrate on the whole route. Again and again you come across slow cars and you have to postpone what you wanted to learn in a special corner to the next lap. I also know a lot better now how to manage this long week. When and how do I have to rest. Last year I thought it would be a good idea to stay in the motorhome by the track. This year I am enjoying the comfort of a hotel. Nevertheless, compared to many of my colleagues, I'm still a newcomer to Le Mans.

What do you mean?

Webber: Timo Bernhard is drove a 24 hour race 24 times in his career. These guys are super specialists at this type of race. That's why I always listen very carefully when you have something to say.

From the driver's point of view, what is the difference between a 6-hour race and a 24-hour battle?

Webber: The 6-hour races are more aggressive. At Le Mans you have to watch out for the car a bit. Not too much, but still. There are some corners here that put a lot of strain on the car. In the race you make sure that you get through as easily as possible. In the short races, qualification is important. Although there are still six hours left. In Brazil last year we ate from the front row for three hours. Toyota and we fought for three hours. So it's an advantage if you start at the front. At some point in Le Mans this is sorted out, via strategy, breakdowns or racing speed. In Le Mans you have to beat the race yourself first. When Audi drives away from us at a certain moment, you have to think carefully about whether you want to increase the pace as well. It's a bit like cycling. Sometimes the peleton decides to go after the runaways, sometimes for tactical reasons it is better to wait. The Tour de France lasts three weeks and is not decided in one day. Le Mans is the equivalent in motorsport.

But isLe Mans not already become a sprint race?

Webber: It's a sprint race for the team. Why lose 5 or 6 seconds in a pit stop? You have to catch up on that on the track, which stresses the car even more. If the logistics are right, the processes work and the drivers don't make any mistakes, it's a good investment for the final hours of the race. If at the end of the race you have to react to neglect with fast laps, then you have a problem.

Porsche has the fastest car on a lap. How good were you in racing?

Webber: It's incredibly tight. What we don't know is what it will look like at the end of the triple tint. You can't read that from the training. But they can be decisive. Those who can drive longer with one set of tires have an advantage. Tire changes take 25 seconds. You can't bargain for that extra time too often. It can happen to us four or five times over the distance. We know that Audi can drive for a very long time with one sentence. The other unknowns are the weather and the green route. The big rain on Friday washed away all the grip.

In return, Porsche can drive longer on one tank of fuel. Does that compensate for Audi's tire advantage?

Webber: Can you guarantee that we can drive longer?

Audi and Toyota say that.

Webber: Then you are well informed. Maybe!

How well are you informed about the status during the race?

Webber: I know roughly how things are. In contrast to Formula 1, you rarely see your LMP1 opponents after a certain period of time. Emotionally, this is a completely different race than when your opponent drives in front of your nose or presses you from behind. But it is more important for Brendon, Timo and me to know what condition the car is in. What do we have to watch out for? Is there any problem looming? You need two laps to get back into the car. The breaks in between are very long. The car changes accordingly. Then you have to find your rhythm and thread your way through the traffic. We have never run into slow cars as quickly as this year. But they also drive their races. That is why we have to take care of them and not the other way around.

Is lapping at Le Mans easier than at Spa or Silverstone?

Webber: Yes, it's easier because the route is longer. Spa is critical in the last sector because there are a couple of high-speed corners. They can easily lead to misunderstandings. Here at Le Mans, the Indianapolis curves are the most uncomfortable place to lap. This is what the Hunaudieres straight line is for. You always hope that you will pick up a few cars at once.In this respect, it is perhaps a good thing that Le Mans wants to allow 150 hp more LMP2 cars next year. Then the speed differences would not be so great.

How do you rate Audi and Toyota?

Webber: We have to concentrate on ourselves first . The first challenge is to finish the race. Toyota cannot be written off. You could drive through without any problems. Like we did last year. We didn't have any defects until the 20th hour, but our car had a problem that cost the racing speed. Although we were slow, we took the lead. That is the luxury of Le Mans. Teamwork, pit stops, reliability, few mistakes from the drivers can win you the race. It should rain on Sunday. Anything can happen. Forget the forecasts. When it rains here, there are 1000 chances of making mistakes.

What do you have the most respect for?

Webber: The distance.

Does it still make sense, with three cars in the team, to send one out as a hunter to challenge the competition?

Webber: Our tactics will work for everyone three cars will be very similar. The strategy of a hunter has not been discussed once. We are not yet experienced enough to embark on such a risky strategy.

How difficult is it to find a setup that fits all three drivers reasonably?

Webber: The good thing about endurance racing is that the cars have to work for such a long time and in such different conditions, which prevents us from tailoring the setup to one of the three drivers. This is only done for the qualifying rounds. Timo, Brendon and I have our preferences in the car. It's a give and take. It is up to us to get this compromise perfect. That is why it is so important here to address what you like and don't like about the car. So that the engineers have the opportunity to remove the biggest brakes. It is important that all three drivers have confidence. Therefore, all major uncertainties with regard to traction control, power management, aero balance, and tire use must be expanded. A lot of versatility is required of drivers today. That is why Tom Kristensen has nine-time Le Mans winners. Perhaps he was no longer the fastest of the Audi squad, but he got along best with everything.

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