ISR surprised the Blancpain GT Series paddock by scoring its first pole position at Brands Hatch on Saturday.
After spending several seasons with WRT, Audi factory ace Franj Stippler has moved on to ISR for 2016, as the Czech team starts its third year in GT racing.
“It’s a smaller team compared to WRT, but I’m quite pleased up until now” Stippler told Sportscar365. “Regarding organization and logistics, we can still grow a little bit depending on the financial possibilities.
“I think Igor [Salaquarda] is still building the team and he knows what he’s doing. It’s still a quite young team so I think there is more potential for the future.”
Looking back on his time at WRT, Stippler feels his former team is the benchmark in the series.
“Vincent Vosse has put a very strong group of people together, but he also needed some time for that to happen,” he said.
“He put some very clever guys like Pierre Dieudonné and Thierry Tassin into his team to organize everything very strict.
“For me this is the benchmark team right now. People complaining about some extra support they might receive are wrong because they just do a very good job.”
Prior to the Brands Hatch pole set by Franck Perera, ISR already showed what’s it’s capable of with a strong 5th place finish at Misano, and a good start to the three-hour race at Monza.
“As Monza has shown, we need some support regarding the organization because I was more or less the best-placed Audi in my first stint and we gave it away because I stayed out one lap too long and exceeded my driving time,” Stippler said.
“This is not the nicest way to lose a race because everything is very expensive. If there is enough time to calculate things we should be better prepared in the future.”
As ISR progressed throughout the past seasons, the competition also evolved, with the 2016 season proving to be the hardest test so far for the Czech squad.
“The entries have doubled over the winter and it’s at least double as competitive than it was before,” Stippler said.
“It’s getting harder and it’s one of the biggest motivators for the teams, to try and be a front runner.
“Overall the level of the team is good, we have good drivers, team structure and mechanics. If it is good enough for victory… we might need some luck as well.”
Besides his Blancpain GT program with ISR, Stippler also keeps himself sharp with VLN outings with Phoenix Racing, another team the Nürburgring specialist has close ties with.
Together with Anders Fjorbach, the 41-year-old won the first two VLN-races of the season on board a Phoenix Audi.
“I won’t compete in the third and fourth race because I have some clashing activities, but from the fifth race onwards we should be back and then we try to have some consistency during the season,” Stippler said.
“Last year the drivers, mechanics and engineers changed all the time. Now we try to have everything pointing in the same direction and this season it seems to work with two wins so far.”
As one of the most experienced GT3 drivers of the field, Stippler also reflected on the 10th anniversary of the most popular GT class worldwide.
“I think it’s a nice level we have now, but we need to take car that it doesn’t get too expensive and too extreme for the future,” he said.
“It has changed from a platform to gentlemen drivers to something more professional, with more and more youngsters chasing a factory drive.
“Stéphane Ratel always has new ideas, also now with the GT Sports Club races. He can be very proud of what he did in the last 10 years. It’s an amazing success story he has written.”