Art Talk with Tom Kristensen
With all the heavyweights due in to Sebring for the winter test dates, all the
attention will be on a pair of diesels ! So might as well get the ball rolling with an
excerpt of an interview with Tom Kristensen that was done at the Art Center in
Pasadena on the evening of January 3. The R10 made a brief appearance that
night and then was on Lufthansa the next day back to Germany. TK has the lucky
seven at La SartheÖ will 10 be enough to give him eight ?
KM: Was your first drive of the R10 in Italy at the rollout?
TK: No, around the Eiffel Tower. As far as I know nobody has beaten the time yet
around the Eiffel. They complain a lot about traffic but you know racing drivers. But
I got a good run.
KM: I heard that the transmission made more noise than the motor when you tried
getting in gear. Is that correct, the gearbox louder than the motor ?
TK: Thatís probably true but in a way I was in first gear all the time so I was not
changing gears. I will find out soon and let you know !
KM: Since you havenít driven it that much what has been the general feedback
between your teammates regarding the characteristics of extra weight and the
length of the R10 ?
TK: The extra weight you have based in the rear obviously around the engine and
the support you have in the gearbox and the driveshaft. The radiators are also
bigger so you have a different weight balance already in this car then the R8. So
thatís why you have a longer wheelbase.
KM: Letís take an example such as your favorite high speed turn in the U.S.
TK: Road Atlanta, Road America, thereís a lot of good turns. Maybe Sebring turn 1
if they flatten it out. I look forward to trying that in the new car, it's a great run up to it
but very bumpy.
KM: Because of the longer wheelbase and the characteristics would you approach
turn 1 at Sebring in the traditional way youíve taken it, or would you expect it to be
different? Is there a real dramatic difference betweenthe R10 and the R8 from the
TK: Itís positive. You donít feel the extra weight as much as you would imagine
because of the wheelbase. It has a good front end, and the way Frank ( teammate
Biela ) likes the front end in the slow corners better then the R8. The R8 has a
little problem with understeer. But, the strange thing is the noise and itís certainly
through from the gearbox. There is a certain amount of noise but once the wind
noise picks up it takes over the noise from the engine.
KM: Thatís interesting that you brought up about the understeering characteristics
because I would have thought with the extra weight and longer wheelbase if it
would have been difficult in a tighter turn. Hearing that it's been more of a positive
experience, it sounds like the guys really did their homework.
TK: Yes the guys at Audi Sport always do their homework. But of course there are
different issues with the extra weight. What about can we go far with the tires?
Because we know on days we will go a little bit longer on the fuel mileage that
way, but it doesnít help if we canít go long on the tires, if we canít find the right
balance. Then we still have to optimize things of course. But letís say from the
first feedback you have a very good and new baby which is healthy and which we
KM: You have made motorsport history with your seven wins at Le Mans but with
the R10 you have a chance to make more than history but that of a contribution to
the way race cars are perceived to the public. You are poised to make not just
history but a contribution. This is nothing short of a revolution.
TK: It is a revolution. Itís thinking for a market leader for these engines. You go
through this project and you see that you can handle and develop and engineer
this kind of machine. And you feel this way about all the Audi Sport people. Letís
say, the R8 was developed after the first two years and the second year they were
designing it again and there was another package for 2002. And the rest, until
today, there has been hardly any development going on. So, they have been
making parts but now they are occupied with a new program. So what they have
done, it looks great and from me personally, my dream, winning Le Mans has
come through with the R8. The R8 to me and to Audi generally is maybe the best
sportscar in the world when you look over the distance what they have achieved.
To be a part of that to me is really, really cool. Then still being able to jump in the
R10 thatís fantastic that theyíd come out with this one now. Thatís a great