Robert Renauer (33, DEU) and Mathieu Jaminet (24, F, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) secured the ADAC GT Masters title exactly 50 days ago today. The Porsche drivers look back on their year, tell us of their experiences in the dramatic season finale at Hockenheim and look ahead to 2019.
What's it like being an ADAC GT Masters champion? What significance does winning the title have for you?
Robert Renauer: "It was and is a great feeling to have won the title. It's simply the best for our team, especially when you see who we beat. The field of entrants in the ADAC GT Masters is stuffed full of works drivers and big well-known teams."
Mathieu Jaminet: "This title is my first in GT sports, so it really means a lot to me. I think it has to be the toughest GT racing series around this year. Nowhere else would you see 30 vehicles separated by just one second. But winning the title with Robert and Herberth Motorsport is also great. We had perhaps the smallest team, and Robert even helped out sometimes as a mechanic. Winning the ADAC GT Masters with this terrific family team makes me very proud."
The finale weekend at Hockenheim was very dramatic. How was it for you?
Renauer: "It was nerve-wracking. Saturday went well, and we extended our lead in the standings, but I was beginning to get concerned, as we didn't post a good time in qualifying on Sunday and were only able to qualify tenth on the grid while our main rivals for the title were in pole position. Still, things looked very different for us again after the start. You just need some racing luck. And it has to be earned as well, which we managed to do, I think, as we did a good job all year. I was pleased that I took the second stint. It's not nice to stand on the pit wall and not be in a position to do anything, especially when the Corvette starts to catch up from behind and the van der Linde brothers get in front."
Jaminet: "I sat on the pit wall during the final race and could hardly stand it. I was afraid that something might happen. The last ten minutes were certainly the most stressful of the whole season but I was confident and very focused the rest of the weekend without getting too hung up about things - even after qualifying for the second race. I knew we weren't in the best position on the grid, but I thought to myself: 'All things are still possible.' And it then proved to be true."
No doubt, a lot of people wanted to congratulate you after the finale. Did that bring any big surprises or did anyone congratulate you that made you particularly pleased?
Renauer: "I was very pleased to hear from Maxi Götz that same evening. He fought for the title with us. Our conversation was very emotional and got to me. After all, we've known each other for years and have often fought each other on the track. It was really nice to see that almost everybody was pleased about our title win. That's never a foregone conclusion in our business."
Jaminet: "It was more or less the same for me. I also received congratulations from many drivers and teams that I have not seen for some time. It's really nice to see that other people are pleased about your success. Jules Gounon, who won the 2017 ADAC GT Masters was one of those who wished me well. He had wished me luck previously, saying that I had to continue the tradition of French champions."
Looking back, what was ultimately the key to your title win?
Renauer: "Our consistency, for sure. We might not have taken the most victories or podiums, but we finished in the Top Five nine times in 14 races. You really cannot afford to make a mistake if you want to succeed in the ADAC GT Masters. That starts with a good qualifying and the pit stops also have to go perfectly. "
Jaminet: "We were always contenders up front, that was the key. We were also lucky during the season, but when you regularly finish in the points, then you earn your success. There was hardly a car that was as error-free as ours in the races. We were certainly not the fastest over the year but made the fewest mistakes."
What was the highlight of your season?
Renauer: "Zandvoort was certainly a highlight. Unfortunately, I crashed out on Friday morning and our car got badly damaged, so we had to put in a night shift. The Porsche had gone like a rocket on Saturday, but we weren't able to translate that into a good result, while on Sunday, we achieved our only win of the season."
Jaminet: "The win at Zandvoort was definitely a highlight. We worked hard for it. We didn't necessarily expect it before the weekend, because Zandvoort is not a track that suits the Porsche. It was my first victory since the 2017 season opener, so it was about time. Also, I qualified in pole position and drove the fastest lap of the race, making the day perfect. But we also had a lot of other great races, like in Most, where we finished third twice and took our biggest haul of points."
Was there a race or a weekend where nothing really worked?
Renauer: "The Nürburgring was a low point for me, because we had no idea why the car wouldn't run properly. We tried a lot of things but just couldn't make any progress. That was certainly our weakest weekend, but overall, we had an excellent season."
Jaminet: "Saturday at the Sachsenring was tough, a disaster. The car ran well, but we couldn't translate that into a decent result, but we then focused on Sunday and regained the lead in the standings with fourth place. However, we could have secured considerably more points that weekend."
Things were pretty evenly matched all season, but looking back, who were your toughest opponents in the title fight?
Renauer: "For me, it was Maximilian Götz and Markus Pommer. They were always fighting for the top. Their qualifying results in particular were brilliant. As far as I'm concerned, Maxi and Mathieu were the best drivers in the field. "
Jaminet: "I think the same. Götz was certainly our strongest opponent. He was fast everywhere and made no mistakes. In the end, he and Pommer had a lot of bad luck. They too deserved to win the title. The Corvette was certainly the strongest car on paper but failed to score points too many times."
Have you got any firm plans yet for 2019? Will we see you pair, sporting start number 1?
Renauer: "That would be great, of course, but it's still too early to say for definite. Our programme will certainly look similar to this year. We will talk to a lot of people, having achieved this success. Maybe it will be possible to field a second car. We would like to do that. We will probably get our first new Porsche 911 GT3 R in December and will line up in the 24-hour race at Daytona. The car has been almost completely reworked, so it will be good to gain a lot of experience with it early on."
Jaminet: "It's too soon for me to make any announcements about 2019. I'm having discussions with Porsche, but nothing has been decided yet. However, it would be great if I could drive again for Precote Herberth Motorsport in 2019."