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Don’t let his fresh face fool you. Dion von Moltke isn’t exactly new to sportscar racing. Even before his 2013 win at the 24 Hours of Daytona at the wheel of an R8 LMS, von Moltke was one of the most seasoned drivers in racing the Audi R8 LMS in North America. He ran with APR Motorsport in 2012, grabbed his victory in 2013 with Alex Job racing and now boasts a seat with the uber seasoned Flying Lizard Racing squad. We had a chance to catch up with Dion just ahead of the 12 Hours of Sebring and used the time to get up to speed on his past and also on his immediate future.
Fourtitude (4T): Flying Lizard is a very well established and successful team. That said, the R8 LMS is new to them. How are things going so far this season and what are your impressions with the experience you’ve had so far.
Dion von Moltke (DvM): Things got off to a great start for us at Daytona for the Rolex 24 Hours. The team had a massive task in front of them to not just learn how these cars generate grip and what makes them go fast, but also just learning how to work on the cars. Everyone on the team put in many hours since early November, and all of their hard work paid off with both of our cars inside the top 5 at the end of a 24-hour battle at Daytona.
4T: Daytona and Sebring are somewhat exceptional in the main season schedule. Will you be doing full season or, if not, which races do you anticipate you’ll be competing with Flying Lizard (or any other team for that matter)?
DvM: I will be in the #35 Flying Lizard Motorsport PR Newswire / eSillicon Audi R8 LMS for the full year.
4T: Could you review your racing history a bit? How long have you been in the game and what sort of racing have you done?
DvM: This will be my 10th year of racing. I got a little bit of a late start in go-kart where I started, just before I turned 14. After three years of karting, I went to the Skip Barber Racing School when I was 16 and raced there for a year. After that I decided sports car racing is where I have to be. At 17, I started my first season in sports cars in what is now known at Continental Sports Car Championship. I did that for a season and a half and started racing in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car series in GT and then when I was 18, I got a full season ride with Doran Racing in Daytona Prototypes. I bounced back and forth between the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM before I got a full season ride with APR Motorsport in the first Audi R8 in the U.S. I spent a year racing and helping develop that car. Going into 2013 I had only one confirmed race on my schedule, which was the Rolex at Daytona 24 Hour with Alex Job Racing with Audi Sport Customer Racing. We were able to come away with a win, and the first win in the Grand-Am championship for Audi. That led to my ride with Flying Lizard Motorsports for most of the 2013 American Le Mans Series championship.
4T: How old are you and how do you both manage the day-to-day responsibilities of being a student and racing at this level?
DvM: I am 23 years old, and it definitely is not easy to handle both. I am a student at Florida International University studying to get a degree in International Business. Learning how to manage your time is a very important skill in life, and over the past few years I have been learning how to do that. As a racecar driver there is a lot of work you have outside of the racecar, in fact the driving is only about 5% of all we have to do. Sometimes my professors don’t realize that driving a racecar is actually a job. In fact, I spent the weekend before this Sebring 12 Hours writing a 12 page term paper on the Caste system in India and how it effects their modern economy alongside my physical and mental training for the race.
4T: Any thoughts on the Tudor series? There’s been a lot of activity since the final Daytona results. Given the drama of it all, there is also a lot of speculation that’s a bit surprising given we’ve only got one race in the books. My guess is you’ve got a more pragmatic outlook even though your team was certainly caught up in the post race drama. Any insights regarding your own outlook for the series, Flying Lizard, Audi, or even the GTD class in general?
DvM: For sure, over the past month I have been a little confused at some of the decisions as well as announcements of the series. They have created a board of supervisors to go over in-race incidents and may reverse certain calls made by the race director post race. The press release the series put out about how they go about this came across as wishy washy and was not precise at all. If they want to create a board like this I can become all for it, but to me this has to be a process set in stone. They mention exactly who is apart of this board, but then they say that not all of them have to be there, and they don’t state how this process will take place. To me these are things that we have to have 100% clarity on moving forward. All in all I love this series, and I’m really proud to be a part of it. We have a lot of momentum, and some amazing racing… It’s going to be a great year for sports car racing in the U.S. and I hope to be apart of it for many years to come.
4T: What is your outlook for Sebring and your thoughts on the track? Regarding the GTD class, how is the R8 looking as compared to its rivals?
DvM: Sebring is going to be a big battle this year. The competition is going to be really tight all year and the Sebring 12 Hour is a special race, so the intensity is amped up even higher. Our Flying Lizard Motorsport Audi R8 LMS felt really good around this track and over the bumps in turn 17 and 1 in testing. Our engineers have been hard at work over the past two weeks looking over all of our notes and data so I believe we will show up with a good racecar this week.
4T: What are your goals? Do you wish to stay in this form of racing or with Audi in general? These cars are raced around the world in many series and Audi Sport is involved with still more like WEC and DTM. Any interest in these?
DvM: Racing is such a dynamic sport and everything can change so fast, so I have learned to look only at the next race in front of me and try and bring my best possible performance to that race. This is my second full year in an Audi and I did two races in a factory Audi Sport customer racing car last yea, and I have loved working closely with everyone at Audi Sport customer racing. I would love the opportunity to go and race in some other forms of racing such as we see in the DTM championship, and racing in Le Mans would be a dream come true. For now my goal is to try and get a win with my teammates at the Sebring 12 Hour for Flying Lizard Motorsport and for Audi.
4T: For drivers who have similar aspirations to you, how do you get into this level of racing and how do you continue to move up? Is it a matter of simply getting a test or do strong performances as we saw in Daytona, or victories get you noticed and thus invitations to test?
DvM: The first thing I tell any up and coming driver there is one character quality you are going to need and that is: Perseverance. It’s going to be a tough road, but if you really believe in yourself, never give up and even when it looks like there are no more options you keep working, then I know you can make it. I really feel that going to the Skip Barber Racing School was a big help to me in my racing career. The most important thing is wherever you are racing to have consistently good results. In sports car, racing it is vital to be able to run more than just one quick lap, or have more than just one good race. You have to be consistent over the full season and every time you are in the car. If you are able to get a test you have to impress that team inside and outside the car. Most of all you just need to have that never give up attitude.
4T: Your youth has made you appear to be the young guy on the team for the last few seasons. In that short time, you’ve proven you can and will run with the best and logged some serious victories. What’s it like to be the seasoned veteran at such a young age?
DvM: It’s been really special to have been a part of some great teams with great teammates over the past few seasons. My dad sat me down at an early enough age and gave me some great advice to go to sports car racing, and my parents then throughout the years gave me great advice countless times, and that is a big reason I have been able to get to where I am today. I am only 23 and I feel hungrier than ever to try and get better and win more races. When you’re in the car though you don’t even notice you are younger than almost everyone you are battling against. It is nice to have teammates like Spencer Pumpelly or Filipe Albuquerque to pick their brains, and not necessarily about things in the racecar but also just things about life outside the car that they have learned over the years.
4T: You seem pretty refined and established in the off-track part of the racing world. You’re active on social media and reaching out to fans. That’s not always a common thing for the younger guys who are often focused simply on getting a seat or in the race and/or competition once they’re in. That said, you’re also probably the first generation to have social media at your fingertips the whole time, not having to learn it because it is likely second nature. How does this give you an advantage in the business of racing and also in reaching out to fans? And, do you find yourself being the experienced vet in this and teaching the older guys?
DvM: It’s funny, my dad has more knowledge than me on everything technological except for Facebook and Twitter. I always get a good laugh when he get’s frustrated on his iPad trying to do something on Facebook. Social media is definitely a very important part of connecting with your fans and letting them know who you are. There are so many drivers in sports car racing that it’s hard to separate yourself and build your brand and this has allowed us to do that.