The first training year for the Porsche juniors Klaus Bachler and Michael Christensen is flying by at racing speed. But celebration and frustration often go hand in hand. The former Zandvoort Grand Prix circuit in the Netherlands proved a tough nut to crack for the 21-year-olds. “I’m a bit disappointed in my performance,” grumbled the Deutsche Post by tolimit pilot, Bachler, after the free practice and qualifying where he posted grid positions 13 and 14. “The track is unforgiving of mistakes but it lures you into making them, the many bumps really bother me.” Christensen fared a little better securing two ninth grid spots. “The qualifying was tricky,” said the Konrad Motorsport pilot. “I was out on my first set of tyres and I thought I could improve. But then the yellow flag came out and I got stuck in traffic with my second set. It’s a pity, I’m a little disappointed actually.”
The pair travelled to the North Sea coast on Thursday with their heads spinning. They had just come from their media training that had been organised by the Carrera Cup track announcer and commentator Burkhard Bechtel as part of their training programme. Straight after the Nürburgring race, Bachler and Christensen headed to Cologne. On Monday they were allowed access to WIGE AG to observe the production of the N24 coverage of the Carrera Cup and with Bechtel sharing the theoretical basics. The following day they underwent an intensive interview training session – which proved to be an eye-opening experience for the two. “I don’t show enough emotion in interviews,” Christensen pointed out after his tiring day with mentor Bechtel. The Dane now knows, “I have to work on this. I discovered that it’s very important how you conduct yourself. I should be the one to approach journalists, because it’s important that they get to know who I am. Otherwise you won’t get a mention in the press.”
Klaus Bachler praised his teacher, “Burkhard did a great job,” stated the impressed junior. And what was his Aha experience? He sighs, “The interview training showed me that there are really great moments. You’re happy and excited and you notice that the words automatically come easily. But then there are situations where I’m tense. And that comes across as negative in an interview. So I learned that I have to stay open and relaxed and then it’s not a problem.”
After the races, they came to mixed conclusions. Klaus Bachler’s race on Saturday yielded eighth place when the race was stopped after eight laps due to torrential rain. “My starting position for the first Zandvoort race was nothing to rave about, so I tried to do better in the race. What a shame they stopped the event, it would have been great fun.”
Rank 20 was the result of the second Porsche Junior Michael Christensen after a bungled race. The Dane had taken up the race from ninth, but misjudged an overtaking manoeuvre. “When I tried to overtake Jeroen Mul he closed the door on me. We touched and I spun. It was my fault. I had to let the entire field go past – and that’s an awful feeling.”
In Sunday’s race, Christensen finished seventh, Bachler eleventh. “I’m happy with my race today. I started from ninth and finished in seventh. I couldn’t have done more today.” The Austrian said, “I’m really happy with my performance. Firstly, I drove from 14th on the grid to finish eleventh, secondly I matched the lap times of the front-runners on a drying track, which is particularly pleasing.”
From the North Sea coast after all that work on Sunday, the pair head across the Netherlands to the east of Germany. On the Sachsenring, Bachler and Christensen attend the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy, a workshop run by the FIA World Motorsport Council, with 16 other young talented pilots from all over the world including Australia, the USA and Costa Rica.