WTCR Teamwork: #6 Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team

2020-07-07T18:04:12+02:00July 7th, 2020|2020|

Rounding out the series highlighting the importance of the teams competing in the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team’s Andreas Klinge explains how he went from driver to Team Manager and what skills are needed to thrive on the other side of the pitwall.

Base: Wiggensbach, Germany
Owner/Team Principal: Franz Engstler
Team Manager: Andreas Klinge
On-event team: 25 (including two engineers, eight mechanics)
Drivers: Nicky Catsburg (NLD) and Luca Engstler (DEU)
Car: Hyundai i30 N TCR
TCR highlights: Titles or wins in TCR Asia, TCR Germany, TCR Malaysia, TCR Middle East

“To do motorsport you need to be a bit positively crazy! It’s non-stop”

Q&A: Andreas Klinge, Team Manager

Hello Andreas, welcome to WTCR Teamwork. What does your job involve?
“I am the Team Manager responsible for almost everything. It starts from budget calculations, taking care of the drivers, putting in place the engineers, making everything work from hotels to food at the races, so many things. It’s a wonderful job because it’s so complex and no day is similar to the other one. Managing changes and managing problems is the task of the team manager.”

With all that work do you feel a lot of responsibility on your shoulders?
“There is always one person who has the responsibility, but for sure I am not doing everything by myself because that would be impossible. I’ve got a lot of support from inside Engstler Motorsport, not only from Franz Engstler himself, but also from his wife who is taking care of the hotel bookings, for example. But at the end of the day it is huge responsibility and it’s huge pressure.”

How many people make up the Engstler Motorsport team during a WTCR event?
“We have 25 all in all, including the drivers. We have a mixture of people who work the full year for us and they have been doing so for more than 15 years, which is really something unusual in motorsport. It’s the same with our freelancers, many have been with us for more than 10 years. We are happy because it’s a very close bonding.”

The continuity of having a stable team structure must really help. Is that the case?
“Absolutely and it’s crucial. We always like to say we are a family team, owned by a family. We feel like a family no matter what last names we have. This gives a special and unique feeling, particularly for people who meet us for the first time. Well this is what I’ve been told!”

When did you join the Engstler Motorsport family?
“I met Franz in 1998 when I was still an ambitious but not a very talented driver! In 2000 we made the first season together and I stopped my racing career in 2006 when we did the Asian Touring Car Championship, which was an experience of a lifetime. Touring cars grabbed my attention from the very beginning and Franz offered me the chance to change sides from a driver to starting as a team worker. For the last couple of years, I moved up to Team Manager in different series.”

You mention different series and that’s important because the team doesn’t just do WTCR, it’s busy in other categories as well..
“Especially last year, our most successful year, when we won TCR Malaysia, TCR Asia and TCR Germany and in all series we were driver and team champion. But I have to say it was successful because we are part of the Hyundai family as well. This is well deserved.”

How many weekends would you typically attend in your capacity as a Team Manager?
“Last year it was 23, together with the Nürburgring 24 Hours and VLN. This year will be less because we are late in the season [due to COVID-19] so it will be very combined and intense.”

Do you have a deputy you can call on if there’s a clash?
“Before COVID-19 we’ve never had this situation. But now the last weeks and months of this year will be very intense. For sure there is another guy in the company, Kurt Treml, and he will support me. I can’t be in two spots at the same time and I don’t want to leave one team by themselves.”

What’s your secret to surviving all those trips away and dealing with the intensity of all those race weekends when it is non-stop?
“It is non-stop but you have to be passionate about what you do. To do motorsport you must be a bit positively crazy! Everyone has to be like this because you are always working when others have their free time. Love what you do and love the people you work with and success becomes even more sweeter than when you do it by yourself. It’s always a team effort and that’s what I like.”

To be a good Team Manager, what skills do you need?
“First of all, you need to be able to deal with people with different characters. I am a little bit like the grandfather of all the boys coming with different problems, even personal ones. I am trying to be a rock so whatever happens you have to pretend to be calm, even if you are outraged. But you should be calm because you need to find solutions to all sorts of problems in a very short period.”

Does the fact that Luca Engstler, one of your best drivers, is also the son of Franz, the team owner, cause any problems?
“I’ve known Luca since he was born and have seen him growing up. And the most incredible thing is to see him develop into such a great race driver. Because I could never think this when I remember him as a little boy in a little car driving through the paddocks. But Luca is a very fair team player. He doesn’t take advantage of his name and we are all Engstlers so it’s never a problem.”

What can Luca achieve this year based on his potential?
“Everything is new for us but when we entered as a wildcard at the Slovakia Ring last year, he proved to be fast. Now he has to prove he can be steady, but he has the chance to learn from Nicky and from the other Hyundai drivers, Gabriele [Tarquini] and Norbert [Michelisz], even though we are in separate teams. I am very confident he will show his strengths, he is so much dedicated to motorsport. He’s doing so much work on his fitness, being physically and mentally fit. He lives the sport and I am sure he and Nicky will be a great match.”

Is there a particular achievement that has made all the hard work worthwhile?
“There have been so many great moments, but last year winning the Malaysia, Asia and Germany TCR titles was very special. TCR Germany was where we started with Hyundai in 2018 after working with another manufacturer. We got the support from Hyundai Germany and to celebrate this in the very last race of 2019 is one I will not forget.”

Finally, what advice would you give to somebody hoping for a career in team management?
“Enjoy spending time with people because that’s what you do the most. A normal race day starts at six or seven in the morning and doesn’t finish until 11 at night so you are spending a lot of time with the guys. If you don’t like to work with people, this is the wrong job for you. If you don’t like pressure it’s also the wrong job for you. And if you are not good at organising and multi-tasking, you cannot learn it. You have to do it with your own personality and find your own way. I am not a technical guy and I keep myself out of technical questions and that’s crucial. Do what you can and perform to the best and rely on the team that you are responsible for.”

Where to watch Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team in the WTCR in 2020
WTCR Race of Austria (Salzburgring, 12-13 September)
WTCR Race of Germany (Nürburgring Nordschleife, 24-26 September)
WTCR Race of Slovakia (Slovakia Ring,10-11 October)
WTCR Race of Hungary (Hungaroring, 17-18 October)
WTCR Race of Spain (MotorLand Aragón, 31 October-1 November
WTCR Race of Italy (Adria International Raceway, 14-15 November)