Marco Werner talks about street circuits
Only two weeks after the season opener at Sebring, the American Le Mans Series returns to Florida. In St. Petersburg, along the Gulf Coast near Tampa, the Audi R10 TDI will be contesting its first "city" race this coming Saturday. Marco Werner heads for St. Petersburg as an early leader in the LMP1 championship standings. He is considered a specialist on street circuits. However, the 1.8-mile temporary track near the St. Petersburg pier and waterfront is new to him and his teammates.
St. Petersburg is a city circuit – so it's right up Marco Werner's alley…
"Actually, I do like street circuits, and I'm looking forward to racing on one for a change again. On the other hand, we saw at Sebring how close the competition was between the LMP1 and the LMP2 cars. But the advantage of our R10 TDI tends to start from the midpoint of long straights – and these normally don't exist on street circuits. On account of the higher weight compared to the LMP2 cars, things will be very difficult for us in St. Petersburg, and the other city races this season."
But generally you enjoy city races?
"I've always enjoyed them. With the Audi R8, I was very successful on city circuits in 2003, and in Monaco I won in Formula 3. That's why I'm basically looking forward to St. Petersburg."
What makes a street race so special?
"The thing I like in particular, is pushing the limits. In the past, you could see that not every driver can do that. On city circuits you need to drive very close to the walls – although that tends to be less a matter of driving toward them but sliding towards them! Taking the car all the way to its limit in the process isn't easy. I've managed to do that quite well so far. Let's see if I can use this advantage here in St. Petersburg too."
On city circuits the safety car is often deployed. How does this impact on strategy?
"Of course, you need to be very quick and respond properly. I think that sometimes passing maneuvers are easier accomplished by means of strategy than in the race itself. We'll see what happens in this department."
How important are grid positions on a city circuit?
"Very important, naturally. Due to our higher weight we'll have a hard time passing an LMP2 car. How this will work the other way around remains to be seen. Normally, Emanuele (Pirro) and I take turns driving the qualifying session from race to race. Maybe for the city circuits, we need to change our strategy and say that the faster of the two of us on the respective circuit will drive the qualifying session. Each place that puts us further up the front of the grid will help us in the race."
Can you say anything about the track despite not having been there before?
"Of course I've taken a look at the layout of the circuit. But we won't know what we'll really be up against until we get there. The area around St. Petersburg is new for me as well. I'm very excited."