Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tanner Foust and Scott Speed Interview - Red Bull GRC Washington DC Presented By Volkswagen 2015

Red Bull Global Rallycross' return to Washington DC last weekend also marked Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross' home event, with the German manufacturer's US operations being based just down the road.

However, it wasn't the be a fairytale finish for the team's pair of Beetles, with bad luck once again hitting both Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, preventing them from taking the victory.

I spoke with the drivers, who combined have won more races than any other driver pairing in the field, after the event to get the low-down on what happened

Tanner Foust and Scott Speed Interview

Dominik Wilde: Another weekend for Volkswagen where you've had the speed, but perhaps not the result you would have wanted. How would you sum up how this weekend has gone?

Tanner Foust: There were just some fundamental issues this weekend. I had a bit of a boost problem throughout the weekend that only got found after replacing essentially every component of the anti-lag system, that got found out in the final and then we were having some difficulty with the dampers and were finding some damage to the dampers so unfortunately in the final I ended up frying the Yokohama tyres basically off the car. It's no fault of their own but I think just the dampers were having problems keeping control. So it was an unfortunate weekend, certainly. It's tricky when you come out in the first couple of practice sessions and it looks like we've got an advantage on everybody and then by the second day or the middle of the second day we're playing catch up.

Dominik Wilde: And how frustrating is that? You come into every event, you know you've pretty much got the quickest car in the field, you know that the pair of you are both capable of taking the championship, so how frustrating is it when something like that goes wrong?

Tanner Foust: Well I'd say that it would be more frustrating except for I think that the team that we have is the class of the field. I think it is amazing. I see how complicated it is to find these small issues on new cars and how hard they work at it and eventually find it. It would be ideal to have several test days before each event but that's just not something that we're capable of doing. But you almost feel disappointed for the team because they've been working so hard and then at the end of the day you just kind of hope that you make it through the first couple of corners and get them a good result .

Dominik Wilde: This year you've moved from the 1.6 engine that you were developing last season to 2.0 litre, and a couple of times the engine has held you back. Would you attribute that to the switch or it it just one of those things?

Tanner Foust: There's no doubt that the 1.6 litre had some serious development work on it and was very reliable because of all the WRC experience, but the 2.0 litre is an amazing engine, it's so drivable and so strong, really the problems that we've had haven't been fundamental issues with the engine. We had a bad batch of flywheel bolts, which was just unlucky. And the team, very Volkswagen like, sent the to the lab, had the metal completely tested and everything and found the issue and that's a thing in the past. Today's issues are a thing of the past and we conquer each one of these nuances of the car and extinguish them but the process has cost us championship points for sure.

Dominik Wilde: Next up is LA, it's a double header event so it's twice as much work for you both, twice as much work for team and twice as much work for the car as well. So going into a double header event as opposed to coming into this weekend, does anyone have to do anything different to prepare for the extra impact?

Scott Speed: Definitely. For sure you have to definitely wake up an hour earlier in the mornings, because you have to do everything twice. You've got to take two showers, you've got to brush your teeth twice, just to get prepared for doing the double duty. And I do that the whole week leading up to the race actually, just to get into the habit of just staying focused when the next race comes around. You do everything twice, very diligently, it puts you in the right mindset.

Tanner Foust: There's a drought in California right now though, we may have to put a hiatus on the two showers just to save the planet. 

I think there's been some horror stories with double headers in the past and so it's a lot of work for the teams. Ultimately, today the cars are ready to race tomorrow. So on some weekends it's not a problem and in fact the cars would be fast tomorrow. We've figured out a lot of things so you really hope on day one of racing that we're able to roll the car into the trailer and store it for day two instead of dragging it.

Dominik Wilde: Like Tanner, you too have had a race win, albeit not a championship round, but you've also had your fair share of bad luck. So how do you manage to stay focussed and ready when you're faced with such adversity?

Scott Speed: I can only do what I can do. There's other cars out there you can't control, the three times we've got to actually qualify this year we've been first, first by a long way and then second barely in Detroit. We're clearly the fastest, or one of the fastest cars here, but we can't help when things go wrong like we had two problems in the races that cost us front starting positions. 

Obviously the heat race today, the one that got red flagged, we had the issue on the start, we couldn't get off the line. That cost us pretty much the weekend because before that we were sitting in the driver's seat, we would have been able to start first for the rest of the races and without a problem it should have been an easy weekend. But instead of first easily, we were down the back and having to survive. And the final was just, having to start on the third row you're just not able to go anywhere. It was clear our speed we had from the LCQ but we had to start back there and people are in the way, you can't go anywhere and you have to just take the points. 

We need clean weekends. If we have clean weekends it's very possible we end up with five wins for the rest of the year.

Dominik Wilde: It's such a change from last year where you were the winningest driver and you were fighting for the championship...

Scott Speed:  ...We will be the winningest driver this year because I'm quite sure we're going to end up winning the last five races. I mean, we can't have this bad luck every time. I really think that by the end of the year we'll still win the most races, I'm sure.

Dominik Wilde: Between now and the next round, obviously the team has got to keep working like any other team has, but what do you need to do yourself to make sure that you will win those races?

Scott Speed: What more could we have done this weekend? We were on pole by half a second and the only thing that hurt us was just bad luck so if things don't go our way, if we don't have the bad luck that's been ridiculously over our head the last four weeks then I think we leave the line first then ride off in the sunset. 

Dominik Wilde: It's very much the nature of the series isn't it?

Scott Speed: It is. If this was like an open wheel series it wouldn't even be a race because generally the fastest car wins always but that's why GRC is fun though. I mean, it's not in our favour right now but you can be the fastest car all weekend then end up seventh like we did. That's part of the thing that brings the fans and makes the racing so exciting.

Dominik Wilde: As someone with your experience, such a varied experience - stock cars, Formula One and a few Formula E races under your belt as well, do you still enjoy doing this even when there might be days when you think it isn't going your way? Do you still enjoy it more than things perhaps over in Europe?

Scott Speed: I'm pretty sure that if I really wanted to go back to F1 after the success in FE I'd probably would have a decent shot at getting that US GP ride, I've absolutely zero interest in doing it. The FE stuff is fun but on a part time, would I do it? Yeah, for sure I would do it if there's no conflicts but my priority is for sure here because this is the future of motorsports. I have a great, great situation with Volkswagen and the team and I think it's just a matter of time before we get our stuff sorted out and we're the dominant team in the paddock and that's more important to me, I think that's going to be more fun.

Dominik Wilde: And you've just announced a new two year deal with the team so you're very much in it for the long haul, does that lift a weigh off your shoulders knowing that your future is now sorted or was it every in doubt?

Scott Speed: Yeah the making the decision of what to do, like do I go this route, do I go the Formula E route, because really there's kind of a choice you have to make there and I go this way mostly because of my relationship with Volkswagen and Andretti, I feel really at home. I really get along with Michael (Andretti) a lot, I'm very lucky to have found a team owner that is as into the racing as I am and I just really feel at home with everyone. I've got a really great team around me, the best team around me I've ever had in my life.

Image: Dominik Wilde for Red Bull Global Rallycross

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