It’s not easy to get an interview with a world class driver for a famous racing like Team Motul AuTech who race a Nissan GT-R. Michael Krumm is the team’s first driver and has a career that dates back to the late 80s. His career highs include coming in fifth at the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race, 1997 JapanGT Series Champion, 2003 JapanGT Series Champion and numerous other respectable records.
Our man from Nismo Malaysia Alan Khoo hooks us up with the exclusive interview at Republic Sunway Pyramid.
Congratulations on your two wins here in Sepang, what are the different challenges you face here that didn’t exist last year or any other year you raced?
Well we have a new car, the new 08 GTR prototype, we did a lot of development in the winter and we were very successful in the start of the season with the double win with the Nissan car, we had some grand results so we’re starting a little further, the regulations have changed for us, we have a lot of penalty weight so the challenge is to even though we have a fantastic car the advantage is gone because there’s a lot of weight in the car and the challenge is to win this championship with this disadvantage.
So what do you think of the new regulations, the weight ballasts, will it make the race more interesting?
I personally do not like it as I think everyone should have an equal chance to win the championship but it will make the sport more interesting no doubt, so now we have the weight, we must just work harder to overcome this.
So who do you think are your major competitors this season?
Well, other Nissan cars, the Toyota number 36, Tom’s Toyota car, the Petronas car, then the Honda cars, Ralph Firman who won here last year, it’ll be quite an interesting race this year, this race in Malaysia will be quite a deciding race for us.
Sepang International Circuit is known as the most technically challenging race for Formula 1 drivers, some of them love it, some loathe it, it is a very hot race even for open pod racers, how is it for you?
Even more so for us because we’re sitting inside the car, a Formula car has air coming through from outside, we have no air, we have a lot of devices giving us air in the car but the problem is, its hot air not cold air. Then we can’t really open too much of the car, if we open too much to get fresh air we disrupt the aerodynamics of the car so the car gets slower, so we have to close it up so that makes it very hot for us, I think its very hot.
It’s a very hot race, we really have to stay fit for it, we have to be tough, I like the challenge to make it. And it also means you have a chance to catch the guy in front because its hot, if they get hot they make mistakes so I can overtake them so it’s a chance. So you have to make sure you’re really fit and you’re trained and you’re prepared for the battle and then you have a chance to get a good result. Even if the guy had a quicker car in front of you and you don’t have so much ballast weight, if he looses his concentration, you can go in, so yea.
Is there any difference in how you prepare for the Malaysian race compared to the races in Japan or any other part of the world?
Yea, we basically personally have to train a lot more for this race, preparing to deal with the heat, running and staying outside, its very warm in Japan in the summer but never as hot as here, so it required some special preparation for the body and on the car yea we have to prepare many cooling devices which we normally don’t use for the car and the engine as well as for the driver
You have been in racing in Sepang for quite a while now, tell us about that.
Yea, since 2000, I won it the first race here, the exhibition race, it was very exciting and I really like the track.
So what do you think of Malaysia?
It’s a nice country, it’s very hot here, everyday it is like this, I don’t know how you manage to handle it. People are friendly here and are always smiling and it’s a very nice place to be actually I don’t spend much time in Kuala Lumpur because I always stay at the track most of the time, but I have to say Kuala Lumpur is a very nice city, it’s clean, everybody’s behaving. It’s relaxing, you have many TV channels, you can watch every sport in the world, you have everything. I see a lot of many Malaysian drivers love their driving, there are many nice cars around, people are driving well.
So how long can we expect you to be racing here?
Well as long as they don’t fire me, I hope for another few years I can be coming back here hopefully.
Any chance of you moving onto open pod racers?
Most likely, for one year I tried to do it but it I need some backing because its not sponsored by the manufacturers. Your really need private sponsorship.
Any advise for budding racers, our more than 60,000 zerotohundred.com members, any advise for all ‘drivers’ out there?
Oh, well, don’t race on the streets too much, I know its fun, (laughs, a lot). Try to go to the track, where you can push and learn. I’m happy that there are many different car enthusiasts here, I think its very exciting there are so many people here in Malaysia that share the passion for driving and I see many nice cars driving around and people are driving well. I think if people train well and take it seriously, you don’t need to believe that driving is something you’re born with, like maybe Schumacher was, but believe me, he has been driving everyday since he was four years old on his own kart track, so practise practise practise is the key and don’t be disillusioned if you go to a track and your lap time is not so quick, everybody has done that and its just a matter of time and practise. I know practise is expensive but you have to focus and practise hard, don’t just go around doing the same thing, everybody can be a good driver.
Special thanks to Alan Khoo of Nismo Malaysia and Team Motul AuTech