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July 20, 2017

Spa 24 Debrief with Christopher Mies

Spa 24 Debrief with Christopher Mies

Suffice to say, Christopher Mies is a very busy man. In between a full-time schedule racing in the Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series, the German can be found racking up the air miles as part of his role on the Audi Sport customer programme with JAMEC PEM Racing and Greg Crick in the Australian GT Championship. So it was somewhat apt that when Racing.GT finally met up with 26-year-old Mies, who added victory in the Nürburgring 24 Hours to his repertoire earlier this year, it was just after the completion of the podium celebrations at the Spa 24 Hours, where he, Christian Mamerow and Nicki Thiim finished third.

For much of the race, the no. 5 Phoenix-entered R8 LMS had been fighting an uphill battle. After the lead trio benefitted from an untimely Safety Car to pull a gap of around half a lap over the rest of the field, a tyre gamble intended to recover the lost time failed to pay off when the rain returned just a few laps after switching to slicks, leaving the no. 5 crew with a lot of catching up to do. But after plugging away over the night stint and charging through the early morning, a podium finish was sealed in the final hour when the no. 99 ROWE Mercedes was forced to retire.

Spa 24H Testday“Finally we got the podium, it was a really long race, a long night for sure!” said Mies afterwards. “To finish a 24 hour race in these bad conditions is never easy. I took the start for a three hour stint and the conditions were unbelievable, there was so much water, I couldn’t see anything, I was on half power on the straight because you don’t want to be the guy who crashes on the first lap or in the first hour.

“We made one wrong tyre choice in the beginning which cost us a lap and we were unlucky with the safety cars as well, so we were always a bit behind and couldn’t get that back properly, which meant it was like a sprint race for us from start to finish, but it worked out okay in the end!”

Mies was full of praise for team-mate Thiim, the Dane catching the eye with some electric times in the morning as the no. 5 gradually worked itself back into contention, and sympathised with the sister Phoenix car piloted by Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller, which hit several problems en-route to fifth.

“I think that’s normal for Nicki, there is something definitely wrong with him but in a good way!” Mies laughs. “He is always quick, which is why we put him in for the end. For me, he was the quickest Audi driver all weekend, he did a phenomenal job, he was relaxed and cool and he just did his thing which is going very fast.

“It’s not easy to drive these cars when you only do it once a year, so [the no. 6 crew] did a very good job,” he added. “You can’t expect them to be on the same pace as us when we are in the car almost every week, the LMP is a bit different to our car and you have to get used to not having so much horsepower and aero, they did a phenomenal job.”

After the torrential rain and mist of Spa, next up for Mies is another trip back to sunny Australia, with Sydney Motorsports Park playing host to Round Four of the championship. Currently third in points after a tough weekend on the streets of Townsville, Mies is confident of getting back into the title hunt.

“Sydney has a lot of high speed corners which should suit our car I think. It’s quite hot in Australia so it’s hard to be in the car for an hour, but the team is doing everything to give us a car which is comfortable to drive and so far they’re doing a great job.

“I really like it there, I drove there for the first time in 2011 and enjoyed it and always wanted to come back for a proper season. The people there are very nice, the spectators know you and all about your career and want to chat with you. I’m just trying something different and I couldn’t be happier.”

About The Author

James Newbold

James Newbold is Racing.GT's Editor. He graduated from a politics degree at the University of East Anglia in 2015, which should help him navigate through the political minefield that is GT racing. He likes Marmite on toast and Oreo cookies. Speaks Spanish, but only when no one is looking.