It feels like the season has only just begun! Now the final race is looming and the two Porsche juniors can hardly believe it. “We’ve learned so much,” conclude Michael Christensen and Klaus Bachler. And once again at the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland with races 14 and 15 held on the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, the learning curve was still on the rise.
The Dane travelled to the Eastern German circuit feeling confident. The FIA Institute had just recently voted him the “FIA Institute Academy Driver of the Year”. The FIA Institute is dedicated to further improving the safety and sustainability in motorsport. After he and Bachler attended many workshops over the course of the year, Christensen came out on top against 17 other youngsters from 15 different countries. The jury commented, “Christensen impressed not just with his ability on the track but also with his capacity for learning, his enthusiasm and strong understanding of the safety elements of the Academy’s curriculum.”
Driving for Konrad Motorsport, the Dane performed well during free practice on the twisty circuit in the Börde district. Right from the start he coped well with the track. Not so Klaus Bachler competing for the Deutsche Post by tolimit outfit who struggled at first. “The team gives me all the data I need to go out and do it right,” said the 21-year-old, “but I just can’t seem to implement it the way I want to.”
In qualifying, Christensen clinched seventh position for Saturday’s race and fifth for Sunday’s sprint. As they call it in the paddock, for Sunday’s race he was the “Best of the Rest”: In front of him stood four seasoned Porsche veterans: René Rast, Sean Edwards, Nicki Thiim and Kévin Estre. Admittedly, the latter is classified as a rookie in the German brand trophy series, but he is the champion of the French Carrera Cup and has two successful years of experience in the international Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup under his belt. Klaus Bachler posted the eleventh and ninth quickest times.
In Saturday’s 60 kilometre race, Christensen cemented his second ranking in the rookie classification with position six. “I’m satisfied with this,” he stated. “In the first corner it was incredibly tight. But I got through okay, although I lost a position to Robert Lukas and I couldn’t get it back.” Klaus Bachler scored eighth place, and for the first time climbed up to ninth overall and third in the rookies. “My start was super. In the second lap someone gave me a nudge but luckily nothing happened. Starting from eleventh and finishing in eights is a great result for me.”
On Sunday both juniors enjoyed fantastic races – but only one went home happy: Klaus Bachler took the flag in fifth but was classified in fourth, and celebrated his second best result of the season after his third place at his home race in Spielberg. With a cracking start, Bachler catapulted his 911 from ninth on the grid to sixth where he slotted in just behind Christensen. At the flag he was overjoyed, “What an awesome race! I had a rocket start and shot from ninth to sixth. Then I profited from two who were going at each other in front. But I’m mostly pleased because I was able to keep up with the front-runners during the entire race.”
Whilst Bachler could hardly believe his luck, Christensen was deeply disappointed. The Dane had concluded the race ahead of Bachler, but was only classified as 15th. What had happened? When the safety car came out after an accident in lap 17, Christensen was running behind a vehicle that had already been lapped, which he overtook at a time when he was not allowed. For this he was handed a drive-through penalty which was later changed to a 30-second time penalty. “The driver in front, a lapped vehicle, started going really slow and left a huge gap to the car ahead. I thought he had a problem,” explained the crestfallen junior. “What was I supposed to do? I overtook him. But just then he accelerated and that was that.” But the Dane didn’t attempt to lay the blame on anyone else. “I’m so annoyed with myself. It was clearly my mistake that I lost fourth place.” But by the time he arrives at the finale, the junior will have long forgotten his frustration. Learn from your mistakes – after all, that’s just another lesson in the training programme.