Interview with the Champion: Filip Salaquarda

Interview with the Champion: Filip Salaquarda

Filip Salaquarda entered this year’s season as the hot favorite for the GT3 title. The family team ISR Racing, led by Igor Salaquarda, has plenty of experience, and despite returning to racing after a longer break, Filip dominated with his Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Filip, you solidified your dominant season with a title at the penultimate race at Slovakia Ring. I assume this result brings you immense joy…
Certainly, I’m very satisfied. The season exceeded our expectations, and the car performed well, except for the weekend at Slovakia Ring when we encountered an electrical issue and had to retire. We couldn’t pinpoint the exact problem. We disassembled the car and sent the data to Audi.

Despite the technical problems and missing the second sprint, you managed to win both the endurance and sprint titles in Slovakia.
Yes, it’s a bit paradoxical that we secured both titles during the most problematic weekend.

Was winning the title a desired goal for you upon returning to motorsport and the Czech scene? Before the season started, you spoke cautiously about championship victory.
We had a specific goal in mind. We were returning after a break, and we didn’t know how things would go initially and how the car would perform. We didn’t do any special testing before the season, usually only trying out the car during practice sessions at race weekends. That’s why we entered the season with the aim of being among the top three, ideally winning the whole championship.

You dominated in endurance races as well as sprints, rarely having to fight for victory. Which path to first place did you enjoy more? A comfortable drive in the lead or a battle?
The best is when you start from the front row, ideally from pole position, and someone is constantly pushing you after the start. That requires driving at maximum pace and increases the risk of making a mistake. But it’s more entertaining than starting and leaving everyone behind. On the other hand, driving the car itself is enjoyable, so even driving alone doesn’t bother me.

Do you prefer sprints or endurance races?
I don’t really differentiate too much, but endurance racing involves pit stops that can shuffle the order. It also provides an opportunity to manage tire pressures or solve minor issues. Endurance races also have more cars from different categories starting compared to sprints, so from that perspective, endurance racing is better.

Is there a race from this season that stands out in your memory?
I particularly liked the opening race at Oschersleben because it was the first race, and I had a nice battle with Neil Verhagen in the BMW. Both of us had consistent speed, and he won once, and I won the other time. I also enjoyed the race at Hungaroring, where I fought with Miro Konôpka in an LMP prototype. And I shouldn’t forget about Most, which I like. So, there were several memorable races.