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Together with your team mates Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler you are the first World Champions in the FIA Endurance Championship WEC. Which moments do you remember the best?
Quite obviously first and foremost our second Le Mans win. It is and always will be the most important race. Also, however, the fastest qualifying time at Sebring opener. After we had exceeded the speed in the pit lane, we were given a sport penalty. Afterwards just a single flying lap was enough to take pole position. I will also have fond memories of Fuji because of the intense fight with Toyota. We were only crowned champions at the finale.
Within just three years at Audi you have achieved everything with two Le Mans victories, another podium finish at Le Mans and now the World Championship title. The decision you made about your career before the 2010 season was obviously not so wrong …
I’m extremely grateful that I was even given this opportunity at all. I was racing in Japan for a long time. Because of this, it’s not so easy to return to Europe, particularly as the focus of attention is not automatically on our performance in Japan. In 2009 I had the opportunity to compete for a private Audi team at Le Mans. It was a fantastic surprise that I was able to move up into the factory team and to immediately sit in a car capable of winning.
In the first WEC season Audi fought against the challenger Toyota. Was it easy just having one strong opponent?
Quite the opposite. On one hand Toyota was capable of winning from the word go. This in itself was a challenge. It was also easy to overlook exactly what this constellation means mathematically. If you don’t win one race, you at least have a good chance of finishing on the podium. However, when a result outside the top ten comes into the equation, as was the case for us at Sebring, things then get very interesting. Especially as our championship contenders came from the same team, took seven podium finishes and have always collected big points. This is why we had to play catch up. The result was only clear at the very end. This was no easy year!