How did you come to the discipline?
“As a spectator at first. Then with friends, with whom I won the German endurance championship in 1998. I was a mechanic then and we decided to think bigger and take things further. We entered the 24H Motos in 1999. We rolled up in Le Mans with our white Suzuki 600 GSX-R and a toolbox. Someone brought wheels, two others brought the fairings and a fuel tank and we finished 18th overall on our maiden outing. It was a great result and, looking back, it was really quite something.”
Your team is celebrating 20 years of competing at the 24H Motos this weekend. On reflection, how would you sum up those two decades?
“The championship is increasingly professional. These days, you can’t just roll up with a toolbox and wing it. Our team has evolved alongside the FIM European World Championship and we’re still around. We’ve got a great stall, our team is a well-oiled machine, we’ve done the 8 Hours of Suzuka several times, which proves how far we’ve come. I’m proud of that. I don’t much like travelling because I’m scared of flying but thanks to endurance racing I’ve seen the world beyond my village.”
Once I’m in the tunnel on the way to the paddock, I always feel a sense of belonging.
What does the 24H Motos mean to you?
“I get a kick out of the competition between teams. Also, it’s about proving to yourself that you can accomplish things that others aren’t capable of. In endurance, people pull together. It’s not easy to manage a group of 30 for a whole week. Technically, it’s a challenge. I’m like an orchestra conductor and a father figure at the same time.”
This is your 21st 24H Motos. Where do you think you’ll finish this time?
“I think we can make the top 15 overall. But we’re experienced enough to realise that anything can happen and that you can come a cropper on the home straight. We were 9th at the Bol d’Or. A team like ours has to be consistent and well-prepared. That said, to get a good result, you have to be a bit lucky and hope the weather’s good.”
What is your best memory of the 24H Motos?
“I’ve lots of good memories here at Le Mans. I always say that the 24H Motos is different. The Bol d’Or is a superb competition and the 8 hours of Oschersleben is on home turf for us, but Le Mans is special. The Bugatti is the home of endurance racing. Once I’m in the tunnel on the way to the paddock, I always feel a sense of belonging.”
Do you see yourself carrying on for another 20 years?
“No, I can’t see myself hobbling round the paddock with a walking stick. I’m going to give it another five years. If him up there lets me and if there’s enough cash in the coffers, that’s the idea. I’m still motivated. So I don’t see why I should stop just yet.”
Motobox Kremer Racing rider Geoffroy Dehaye about his boss
“Manfred is a well-known figure of the 24H Motos and the FIM endurance world championship. He’s an enthusiastic, attentive team manager. I admire him. In his team, we focus on feelings. He’s very attentive to his riders. He wants everything to run smoothly so that we can concentrate on enjoying the ride. This is my third season with Motobox Kremer Racing. When you feel at home with a team, there’s no reason to look elsewhere.”
PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), BUGATTI TRACK, LE MANS 24H MOTOS, TUESDAY 2 APRIL 2019, PRACTICE SESSIONS. Manfred Kremer, team manager of German team Motobox Kremer Racing.