Like many drivers during Super Sebring weekend, Mike Rockenfeller is racing in both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring. Indeed, his teammates in the No. 48 Action Express Cadillac — Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez — are in the No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 Hybrid that has a good shot at an overall win (as is Mike Conway, also driving the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac in the Twelve Hours).
Toyota, however, has kept its drivers concentrating on the WEC race before they drive the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cars. That means that before “Rocky” gets into the Vector Sport LMP2 for the 1000-miler, all the work of setting up and qualifying the No. 48 has fallen squarely on his shoulders.
“It’s the same for my two teammates, but they are on the Toyota all the time, and then they jump here.” says the German racer. “For me, it’s like reverse, because I will focus on IMSA and then jump in LMP2 in WEC. So I’m doing all the driving until the race, except the warm-up. I think Kamui and Jose want to do the warm-up to get some to get some feeling for the car.”
Rockenfeller was tied to Audi for many years and has a 24 Hours of Le Mans win to his credit in the Audi R15 TDI in 2010. But Rockenfeller has also done quite a bit of DTM for the German manufacturer, winning the 2015 title, so he has plenty of experience driving solo. However, he also has to make sure the car works for his teammates, who won’t experience it until Saturday morning.
“I do the best I can. But there’s no second opinion on the car. Normally, you have an opinion, your teammate drives, he has an opinion and you try to find a good compromise. Luckily, so far at Daytona last year, and this year, we always had the same feeling for the car. So I don’t think that I like a different direction than Kamui or Jose or Jimmie (Johnson), who is unfortunately not here, who we all miss. So I focus on the race, racecraft. I want to do a good quali but it’s we all know it doesn’t matter where you qualify in this race. It matters that the car is fast at the end of the race when it cools off, the sun goes down. So I’m focusing on that. And I luckily have a very experienced team around me,” he says.
Rockenfeller says his teammates haven’t come around to ask him about the car yet as they have needed to focus on their first task. But he did notice Kobayashi hanging around the timing stand during one of yesterday’s sessions. “I’m sure they are watching because they want to know, they are curious if we have a chance not. But so far, so good.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Kamui and Jose, because at the end, it’s the race that counts. What happens now, it doesn’t matter. It’s preparation. But we will fight like hell in the race and those two are really good.”