Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (29) and Richard Lietz (25) head to the final of the Le Mans Series leading the championship. In their ca. 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 RSR they won three out of four races this season. In an interview, the teammates talk about their season so far, their goals and their personal strengths and weaknesses.
Heading to the season final in Silverstone you are leading the championship by eight points. How confident are you to win the title?
Marc Lieb: We travel to Silverstone feeling very confident. We can secure the championship by our own means and we don’t even have to finish on the podium to do this. That is tremendously reassuring. But still, we mustn’t be complacent. We are not about to take risks and will try to stay error free.
Richard Lietz: But if we have the chance to win then of course we’ll grab it. We know about the reliability of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the excellent Michelin tyres and we can rely on a professional pit crew.
Was 2009 a season that fulfilled your wishes?
Lietz: To win three out of four races is naturally fantastic. It’s simply bad luck that our own teammate crashed into us in Portugal. But then we had luck on our side on the Nürburgring, with the Ferrari experiencing technical problems. But that’s what you call poetic justice.
Lieb: Our clear points’ lead has good reasons, the whole team has improved compared to last year. Richie and I work perfectly together as drivers and the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is also considerably better than its predecessor.
What makes Marc Lieb a good teammate?
Lieb: Be careful what you say! (laughs)
Lietz: He has the same seating position as me. Okay, seriously. We share the same comments about the set-up, we get along very well off the track and have great fun. This year I’m driving for a German team. There are not the speech barriers that I experienced last year with the French Porsche IMSA Matmut squad.
And what is great about Richard Lietz as a teammate?
Lieb: His joking around (laughs). He is always relaxed and in a good mood, even if things aren’t running smoothly in free practice. His high spirits are contagious and it often helps me. I can rely on him one hundred percent. He is the perfect teammate for me.
What are the differences between an Austrian and a Swabian race driver?
Lietz: Not a lot really. For a German, I find Marc surprisingly Austrian. We have a similar sense of humour. As an academically trained engineer, Marc is a little more structured than me. But I’m constantly learning.
What characteristic do you envy in your teammate?
Lieb: His negotiating skills. Richard is a born diplomat. I can learn a lot from him.
What is your teammate’s favourite food?
Lieb: Definitely something sweet. I would say Kaiserschmarrn, an Austrian dessert.
Lietz: As a Swabian, Marc likes to eat his local fare, like Spätzle – a Swabian pasta, a local tortellini called Maultaschen, and beef roulade – basically everything that Felbermayr-Proton dish up at a race weekend.
Lieb: They make me almost feel at home in the paddock …
Who sits in the driver’s seat when you share a rental car?
Lietz: Mostly I have to drive. Even though I have a bad sense of direction.
Lieb: For a race driver, Richard is very calm and cautious. But we are always on time.
Which music do you like to listen to?
Lietz: If at all, we listen to the radio.
Lieb: We talk about cars all the time. Richie is the biggest car fanatic I know. I reckon there is no-one who knows car and motorbike makes like him. He is absolutely mad about rallying and rally cars. The sticker on his helmet alone is proof of that: “Caution – I try to drive like Stig Blomquist, the King of Rally.“
Lietz: You’ll actually find this sticker on all of my cars.
When did you first notice your teammate?
Lietz: My dad gave me a small Carrera Cup model car and on the window was the name ‘Lieb’. From that moment on I followed his career path.
Lieb: That was at the Porsche junior selections those days. We were looking for my future teammate. The decision was very close between Mike Rockenfeller and Richie – Mike just managed to get through. But after that I always kept an eye on Richard’s career.
What was the race of your life?
Lietz: My best race was the 2009 Nürburgring 24 hour race. I have never had that much fun during a race where I laughed so much. I’ve only experienced something similar in Austria, going sideways on a frozen lake.
Lieb: I have three races that will always stick in my mind. The overall win at the 2009 Nürburgring 24 hour race, the overall win at the 24 hour race in 2003 at Spa, and the class win in 2005 at Le Mans. All extremely exciting and close races.
And what was the most bitter moment in your career?
Lieb: Once at Mosport in Canada I was in the lead when I hit the wall with my car. That was really terrible.
Lietz: Your own mistakes are always bitter. In the Porsche I haven’t made any major mistakes by now. But I would prefer to forget several races during my Formula 3 time.
Lieb: It’s important to learn from such mistakes and not to do it again. That’s the mark of a good race driver.
Which race is a must for you to win in your career?
Lietz: First, the final in the Le Mans Series this weekend. And then all the 24 hour classics.
Lieb: Eventually I would like to secure overall victory in Le Mans. Le Mans and Daytona are still missing from my collection.