Mertel Motorsport team from Germany is doing very well in TCR Eastern Europe, considering it’s their first season in touring car racing. It´s because behind the team from Nürnberg stand skilled “teacher” from Engstler Motorsport, led by the hugely experienced Kurt Treml.
We sat down with Kurt Treml during the fourth event of TCR Eastern Europe at Slovakia Ring, where Mertel Motorsport scored the second-highest points in the weekend behind the leading Hyundai Janík Motorsport team. Those two teams are fighting for the Teams championship, separated by only ten points. Maťo Homola from the Czech team leads the drivers’ championship, with Davit Kajaia and René Kircher from Mertel Motorsport in second and third place, respectively.
However, the goal of the German team is more modest then winning the teams´ or drivers´ championship. The target was set before the season, and it hasn’t changed. “The goal with René Kircher is to win the junior championship. This is a clear and definite goal. And with Davit Kajaia, it’s to score as many points as possible and to finish as high as possible,” explained Kurt Treml, who oversees the team’s operations on the track.
Treml has been the sports director and marketing director for more than two decades in the Engstler Motorsport but officially retired this year and is working with Engstler through his own company, offering support to different clients in the motorsport world. One of his company’s clients is, of course, Mertel Motorsport, which Franz Engstler and Kurt Treml met at Ferrari Challenge racing. And that’s where the story begins.
“Mertel Motorsport is the only official Ferrari Dealer with its own motorsport team in Germany and is participating in Ferrari Challenge series. But they wanted to take more steps into professional motorsport and were also motivated by the spirit of TCR,” continued Treml.
“So for this year, we have a collaboration with Engstler’s customer support department and Mertel Motorsport. The cars are prepared by Engstler Motorsport with employees from Mertel, trained by our company to handle our one-year-old Honda Civics. On the race track, I have two of my chief mechanics from Engstler in the team, and we train the rest of the guys at Mertel. So Mertel has entered the more professional world of motorsport, and it’s my responsibility to train and build it up and look also for the future,” said Treml.
The cooperation between Engstler and Mertel is going pretty well so far, as René Kircher and Davit Kajaia sit in TO3 in the drivers’ standings. Both drivers have already won a race, and Kircher sits comfortably in the Junior drivers’ standing, which is the ultimate goal for this season.
“I worked with René Kircher three years ago. We know each other very well. I have a special contract with him to be responsible for his development and to be responsible for his motorsport future. Basic speed is very good, but to be successful in motorsport, you need the whole package. Not only fast lap times. And he has shown us step by step at every event he is better and better. And he is clever to realize what is necessary, what he has to do beside sitting in the race car. He has race intelligence to win the championship. Because you cannot win the championship in one race. You must be clever and have a well-prepared car,” talked Treml about one of his young drivers, which he takes care of.
Kircher´s team-mate is the highly experienced Davit Kajaia, who has been racing touring cars for many years. “Davit became the European Touring Car Cup champion with us in 2015, and then we were in the TCR International series together,” remembers Treml, which is why he knows how good the Georgian driver is.
Of course, this is pretty much a debut season for the whole team and new collaboration. Treml admits that the team has done some things wrong, and there is still a lot to learn. But the team is highly motivated and looking to the future.
“It’s our target to continue in the TCR and to bring the mechanics and engineers from Mertel to the international level and to be able to handle the car by themselves with my support. With my experience, I think we are on the best way to realize it,” added Treml.