Wednesday 13 November 2019

Timo Scheider talks past, present and future with Slipstream SA.

Timo Scheider has been in motorsport since 1989 and has achieved success in every category entered, including two DTM titles in 2008 and 2009. He made the transition to rallycross in 2015 with All-Inkl Munnich Motorsport and has remained with the team ever since.

Racing background

Scheider's motorsport career started in 1989, and already at the age of 14, he won the 1992 karting winter cup in Kerpen, Germany. In 1995, he went on to win the German Formula Renault 1800 championship in his debut season.

From 1997 to 2005, he joined the Formula 3 championship before progressing to the FIA GT Championship where he claimed wins in the 24h Spa-Francorchamps and 24h Nürburgring. Scheider then joined DTM in 2006 with Team Rosberg and went on to claim two consecutive titles in 2008 and 2009. 

The 41-year-old German fell in love with rallycross after a test with All-Inkl Munnich Motorsport in Loheac, France in 2015. 

In 2017, he competed in 11 rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, and during his first race weekend in Barcelona, the German stunned many, taking the top qualifiers position. He then finished second in his semi-final race, rounding off the weekend with a second-place finish overall. 

In his first full season (in 2017), Scheider claimed an impressive tenth place in the overall World RX drivers' standings.

In addition to racing in World RX, Scheider joined BMW as a factory driver to compete in GT racing. 

This season, Scheider has competed in the full FIA World Rallycross Championship with All-Inkl Munnich Motorsport and claimed his best result of the season, a fourth-place finish in Silverstone (World RX of Great Britain). 

Timo Scheider took some time out of his busy schedule on media/set-up day to answer a few questions.

Junaid Samodien: Where did it all begin for you? What made you want to become a racing driver?

Timo Scheider: I am coming from a family that has been addicted to rallying and motorsport especially. Back in 1988, everything changed for me when I got my very first go-kart for Christmas. One of my older brothers was karting back then just for fun without any proper reason, but then my father decided to present me with a go-kart for Christmas, and back then everything started. 

JS: Having won two DTM titles, the 24h Nurburgring, 24h Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 hours of LeMans in the GT Class. Is there anything you still want to achieve in your career?

TS: (Laughs) My list is already quite long with the success that I have had in circuit racing, but a few years ago I got addicted to the rallycross sport and for sure a dream would be to set up the right package to fight for the World RX title one day. For sure, I am here for a couple of events now but this is only my second full World Rallycross season. So, I think it would be fun and it would be pretty cool to line-up all the success that I have had with a title in World RX.

JS: What interested you to join the World Rallycross Championship?

TS: My engineer in DTM Laurent Fedacou who is now engineering Anton Marklund in World RX. He brought me to All-Inkl Racing back in 2015 and he talked to the team boss Rene Munnich and asked for a chance to get a test drive and I did that in Loheac back then and straight from the very first moment I was in love with this driving style and these cars. Since then I have to say the racing and driving the car is so much fun. I never experienced something like this before. 

JS: How would you assess the 2019 season to date (performance-wise)?

TS: The expectation has been higher this year, but in the end, the field got very competitive with the Hansen’s Peugeot, the Audi’s and also Gronholm with the Hyundai’s, they came back and came into the season even without factory backing and delivered pretty good. We thought that maybe not all of them would be here in ‘19 but all of them are and I think we have never seen such a competitive championship season before. 

Here and there we were able to catch a podium or something, and we started off the season quite well running P3 in Abu Dhabi and then we had a gearbox failure, but stuff like this happens in rallying and we see that we are not where we should have been but you know this is rallycross and I am aiming for more in the future. 
Timo Scheider leads while the GCK Academy drivers tangle into Turn 2.
PHOTO: Junaid Samodien.

JS: Do you think that you can win races or a championship with All-Inkl Racing?

TS: That is the dream and hope that I still have. I think when you come from a background like All-Inkl Racing has with passionate people who are trying to make this happen on one side, and on the other side, you can’t compare this to a factory team. For sure, you see some updates and you see some positives. I would love to compete for those guys (factory teams) but at the end of the day, it's depending a bit on how the championship will create and develop in the future. If it turns over into electric, we will see, but sooner or later I am sure that if we get bits and pieces together that we can probably fight some others. 

JS: What are your thoughts on Projekt E and the potential switch to electric rallycross in 2021?   

TS: I'm honest on one side and with my history being a petrolhead. Right now we have to be sensible and for sure we have to see the overall picture in racing and our world. So, that is why we should be sensitive. You have to be open-minded about electrical racing, which is going on in different categories – even if it's in Extreme E or Projekt E or whatever it will be called in ‘21, but hopefully, it will arrive in World RX soon. This opens more doors and also closing other doors.  But I am open-minded and I am also looking into a bright future with electrical cars because I think this is the reality and we should not close our eyes with this because at some point we need to think about what is possible and what is not possible for our future. 

JS: Having had a connection with BMW. Do you think the switch to electric rallycross will see BMW enter? 

TS: Well, I am still a factory driver with BMW. We are talking about this and I can tell you that ‘yes’ BMW is always sensible when assessing all motorsport categories in the world, which could be interesting to them. For sure, World Rallycross is something on the plate, but if it's in the future or soon – and it's something that they are able to run or want to run, I am not sure, but for sure I am always someone to support this if it's happening.

JS: Would you ever consider starting your own World RX team?

TS: To be honest this has come up from time-to-time but you know in terms of the business and in terms of the fun and the knowledge. I have run my own Formula 4 team in Germany, but you know if you don’t have the backing from the factories, it's mega, mega difficult to find all these budgets and get everything the way that you like to have it. The problem is if you are not ready with the full budget package that you should have or need to be competitive then there is more stress and more negative emotions, and everything else that surrounds it. 

If I want to start something I must have a proper set-up in place with a high level of quality that I would like to deliver, and then to reach that level because there are critical circumstances in World RX now and motorsport, in general, you have to be very sensible if you think about that. 

JS: The FIA World Rallycross Championship will be heading to the Nurburgring in 2020. Would you ever consider doing a lap of the Nordschleife in a World Rallycross car?

TS: (Laughs) Well… Fortunately, the Nordschleife is pretty quick in most of the areas. So, I think it would not suit a Rallycross car so much because of the short gearboxes (gear ratios) that we have but just to have that emotion. Why not? 

I have a lot of things in common with the Nordschleife in my history. I have won in car and also on a bike around the circuit. I have also won the 24 hours of the Nurburgring and a DTM race as well. For sure, to drive a World RX car around the Nordschleife would be something to tick off in my history book.
JS: You have raced on a number of World RX circuits in a number of countries? I have a challenge for you. Can you DRAW your ideal World RX circuit, or what would it look like?

TS: This is very difficult. Are you talking about a World RX circuit? 

JS: Yes, your ideal World RX circuit.

Timo based his circuit layout around circuit racing with long straights and a few corners.

A very special 'Thank You' to Timo Scheider for taking some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with us.

Written By - Junaid Samodien
Co-Editor - Franco Theron [PedalFest SA]
Circuit drawn by - Timo Scheider
Pictures By - FIA World RX Media/Junaid Samodien
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