Lechner Racing Porsche Supercup
“JB” Simmenauer – Rising Star at Lechner Racing to Make Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Debut
With the fourth round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup 2018 coming up at Silverstone, there could not be better proof for the strength of this year´s season than a quick look at the statistics. Three different winners in three races so far, seven drivers sharing the nine podium finishes so far, and defending champion Michael Ammermüller of BWT Lechner Racing leading the championship just one point ahead of Dylan Pereira of MOMO Megatron Lechner Racing – it could not be any closer.
Well prepared after two days of testing at Silverstone the three Lechner teams are looking forward to continue in good form at the “home of British motor racing”. Thomas Preining of BWT Lechner Racing, last week´s winner at the Red Bull Ring, who also topped the time sheet in two of the four test sessions here, wants to prove a point again, while his teammate Ammermüller is keen to defend his championship lead. MOMO Megatron Lechner driver Josh Webster hopes for better luck at his home race than recently in Austria, aiming for his first podium finish of the season.
Meanwhile the spotlight will also be on youngster Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, making his first and only Supercup appearance as a guest driver for Lechner Racing. The 17-year-old is also the youngest driver in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany – but race by race he is proving that he is to be taken seriously by his much more experienced competition. “JB”, as he is called by about everybody in the paddock, does not look much older than his 17 years when you watch him in the Lechner Racing garage, talking to his engineers or his teammates – but if you listen in, you get the impression of a very mature young man who knows very well what he wants and what he has to do to get it.
Simmenauer was very successful during his karting years and so quite a lot of the racing pundits, including Ralf Schumacher, who rated him very high, were rather surprised when after a few steps into Formula Renault 2.0 he quite quickly to change track and set his sights on a career in GT Racing. “Single seater racing is a very expensive business – and as we did not have the necessary sponsorship it would have come down to my family to spent more and more money on me.” And even as his father is quite well-off as the owner of not too few fast-food restaurants, JB did not want him to make this kind of risky investment: “The chance to make it go the top, to Formula 1, where you can earn money instead of spending it, is very small, even if you are rather talented. So much depends on luck as well, on being at the right place at the right time.”
So he chose to look for a safer way – and found it with Porsche and Lechner Racing. The biggest differences he had to get used to? “The view from the car, not seeing the wheels – that makes a big difference. And also for the breaking – if you don´t see the wheels, you don´t see when you lock up... These were things I really had to focus on in the beginning. But it is really a lot of fun to drive these cars, to feel the power, to work out what you can do with them.”
After spending the winter doing some races in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and getting also the test days at Oschersleben before the start of the German Porsche Carrera Cup, two race weekends in the German Cup and the two Supercup test days at Silverstone, he feels rather well prepared for his first appearance at such a high level of motor racing: “Walter and his ever so experienced team really helped me a lot, but of course I am still learning a lot, during every session, every race.”
Simmenauer also races in the French Porsche Carrera Cup to gain even more experience as soon as possible. Comparing he two championships he says that at the top “the level of performance and competition is rather similar, but the top is a lot wider in Germany, which makes it harder to get into the top positions. And the Supercup of course will be even harder.” Being the youngest driver in whatever series he competes in is something rather familiar to him: “Even in karting I was always the youngest in class. First the others of course don´t like to be beaten by anybody younger – but over the time it does not matter much any more. “
His aims? To be able to follow a real professional racing career, to maybe make it into the highest level of GT racing, the WEC someday – at least in the further future. “But this year it´s really all about learning, trying to make it into the Top Ten regularly and maybe fight for the rookie championship as long as possible. Next year I hope I might be able to go for the title and do the complete Porsche Supercup for Lechner Racing as well. But I know I have to work really hard to get there. On the other hand I believe that you can achieve a lot of things if you work hard enough for them...”