Former Supercars pilot Maro Engel caught up with apexnews.co.nz‘s Steven Wright as he prepares to partner two kiwi stars Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Baird in the #22 Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes for the 2017 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in a few weeks.
APEX: For anyone who doesn’t know who Maro Engel is, Tell us a bit about yourself.
ENGEL: Well I’m 31 years old, German and I love Motor Racing. I started go-karting when I was 6 years old and moved my way up through various formula series. On this way, I have been lucky enough to race in DTM, F3000, F3, V8 Supercars and currently in GT3 and Formula E. I have spent all my professional career racing for and with Mercedes-AMG which for me is a huge honour and privilege to be able to race for such a fantastic brand.
APEX: Was it always your boyhood dream to be a race car driver?
ENGEL: Maybe in my very first years I might have dreamt about becoming a firefighter but as far as I can think back I have always been fascinated by cars and have always wanted to be a racing driver. For me this is what I love to do and I feel very priviledged to be able to call this my job.
APEX: What was your first experience in Motorsport and how did you get into it?
ENGEL: Shortly before my sixth birthday I tried a go-kart for the first time. It was so much fun and it really sparked my passion and luckily enough my birthday wasn’t too far away so my parents got me a go-kart as a present. From then on we spent the weekends at the kart track. I owe my parents a lot for all the support both financially but also the time they invested and spent with me at the kart tracks.
APEX: You raced in the V8 Supercars Championship in 2013 at Erebus Motorsport. What makes V8 Supercars so competitive?
ENGEL: Well firstly there are very good drivers and teams in the championship and espcially very specialised drivers on these types of cars. The cars are quite different to anything else in the world, it’s a mix between a Nascar and let’s say a WTCC car. So the driving style required is a little different to lets say a DTM car which has lots of downforce. But at the end of the day the championship is great, it has amazing wheel to wheel racing and it’s a lot of fun as a driver.
APEX: Going on from that, Would you consider racing in Supercars in the near future, if so why?
ENGEL: You should never say never, but at this stage I would say it’s unlikely.
APEX: Everyone at the Bathurst 12 Hour has been considering your entry with Van Gisbergen and Baird being on of the top contenders. Does that give you any extra pressure of performing?
ENGEL: I think there are a lot of strong entries and that’s great for the race and it will surely be a thrilling Bathurst 12H. For sure we have a great team and what Scott Taylor and AMG have assembled is fantastic, but we are well aware that there will be some very strong competition. So I don’t feel we have any more pressure than any of the other top teams. We will go there, do the best possible job and try to win the race.
APEX: Many factory drivers gets perks like company cars, What are some of the perks of being a factory driver for Mercedes?
ENGEL: Well first and foremost it’s an honour and a very exclusive circle to be a factory driver, it’s something I have always aspired to be and I think for most drivers it’s the aim too. In my case being a Mercedes-AMG factory driver is my dream job as I love the cars, the road cars as much as the racing cars. And yes one of the great benefits is having a Mercedes-AMG C63 as a company car, which always has the capacity to put a smile on your face.
APEX: With expectations that the GT3 cars will dip below the 2:00s mark at the Bathurst 12 Hour this year, How do you prepare to do something like that during the Qualifying sessions?
ENGEL: I think we are yet to see if it’s going to be possible to go under 2min this year, but it’s certainly not impossible. Before qualifying the whole practice running gears up towards qualifying and getting a good feeling in the car, finding the right setup so that the driver is comfortable.
Bit by bit you start to push the limits and refine your driving to finding the last few hundredths of a second and when it’s time to qualify it’s gloves off and you give it all you have and try to put everything into one lap. It’s definately always one of the highlights of the weekend.
APEX: Mount Panorama is considered by many as the greatest track in the Southern Hemisphere. Where does it rank in your top tracks to race at around the world?
ENGEL: I have said many times before that there are three tracks in the world that stand way above the rest and they are Nurburgring Nordschleife, Macau and Bathurst. These three tracks are the best tracks in the world, each as great as each other even though every one is unique. So it’s clear that Bathurst is the greatest track in the southern hemisphere for me, and I think anyone who has been to Bathurst will agree.
APEX: Do you think you have a particular driving style that separates you from everybody else? If so what is it?
ENGEL: It’s hard to say, every driver has his own driving style and it’s no different for me. One thing that I can say is that I really enjoy the challenging tracks such as Bathurst, Macau and Nurburgring and I think this has shown in my results there. I have managed to win the Nurburgring 24 and Macau but not yet Bathurst. I hope that will change this year.
Apexnews.co.nz would like to thank Maro Engel spending time answering these questions.