Motorsport News - Sportscar
Charlie Geipel, Thundering around the Sachsenring
8th June 2012
•Local favourite to contest home race in Chevrolet Camaro
•YACO Racing (Saxony) pin hopes on new American sports car
Chevrolet Camaro driver Charlie Geipel (22, Plauen) is bracing himself for a 650bhp rollercoaster ride at the Sachsenring in the context of the forthcoming ADAC Masters Weekend. The local favourite from the nearby Vogtland region will be competing in the 'Super Sports Car League' in one of the two new Chevrolet Camaro GTs entered by YACO Racing powered by Jochen Schweizer. With its muscular build, powerful eight-litre engine and characteristic eight-cylinder sound, the American pile driver is one of the crowd pleasers in the ADAC GT Masters. Ahead of his home race, Geipel told adac.de/motorsport what it's like to drive the Camaro and what fans can expect at the Sachsenring.
In size alone, the Camaro stands out from all the other super sports cars in the ADAC GT Masters. How do you handle a racing car as big as this?
"Thanks to its very long wheelbase, the Camaro has great road holding on fast sections, but it's not quite so manoeuvrable on tight corners. The way the Camaro handles resembles no other racing car, and it has a completely different drive concept. To be fast in the Camaro, you need the colossal engine capacity."
From a spectator perspective, the rumbling V8 sound of the Camaro makes your hair stand on end. What's it like for you in the cockpit?
"This is a real racing car sound, and of course it is very loud in the car. My earplugs fell out once, and it wasn't particularly pleasant. But the acoustics are thrilling. When my team-mate Achim Winter drove the Camaro for the first time, he got out after three laps grinning from ear to ear. He was totally captivated by the penetrating V8 sound."
By comparison with some of the flatfish cars in the field, you must feel as if you're in a double-decker. What's the view like from the car?
"We were fairly sceptical about this early on; from the outside, you certainly get the impression that visibility is going to be poor. But appearances are deceptive, because all-round visibility is actually very good and no problem at all. What you do notice as a driver is the engine at the front. This makes it quite hot in the car. When we're racing in warmer conditions, we need good ventilation."
The Camaro is still a new race car, so have you been making many changes?
"In recent weeks, we've been doing a lot of testing to get ready for the next race. At the Sachsenring, we'll see what difference all our hard work makes in terms of lap times. But as you know, the competition never sleeps, so it will be interesting."
What are your expectations for the Sachsenring?
"I have the feeling that the Camaro may not be ideally suited to the characteristics of the Sachsenring. But I hope that we can get a solid result somewhere towards the front of the midfield. I know the Sachsenring very well indeed, and having home advantage is certainly going to be worth several tenths of a second."
Your brother Philip will unfortunately be sidelined due to injury this weekend; otherwise he would have been competing against you in the second Camaro. Does the fact that you're brothers make for a special sort of rivalry?
"As we're both driving for the same team, we obviously look out for each other, especially with having our father as team manager. In the race, though, we have different priorities because I'm partnering Achim Winter who is a contender for the amateur title. I have to take that into account - that's why I don't push myself forward so much. We often agree on strategy before the race, so that we don't mess up each other's chances."
You live in Plauen in the Vogtland which is just 65 kilometres from the Sachsenring. Does this venue have a special significance for you?
"Races at the Sachsenring are always special. I went to school in Chemnitz for four years, so I've got plenty of friends who live nearby. From an early age, Philip and I would often go to the Sachsenring with our dad. He used to be a highly successful rally driver, so that's the only sort of racing we saw then. We only got to experience circuit racing there when we embarked on our own careers."
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