Under the Lid – Christiaan Frankenhout
News | November 21, 2019
This popular member of the 24H SERIES roster knows how to get the job done. Not only has he won multiple races outright in the series and proven more than a match for his rivals in qualifying, but with long-time [] Hofor-Racing, Christiaan Frankenhout won the 24H SERIES outright in 2017 and is a former class champion. He even made his series debut in Dubai as far back as 2010.
Turns out comparisons between the affable Dutchman and 007 are more accurate than you might think too…

“My name is Christiaan Frankenhout.”
Age? You can lie about that if you want…
“I’m 37. Except on the inside where I’m 25!”
Where and when was your first ever car race, and how old were you?
“I was 18, and my first race was at Zandvoort in a Citroën Saxo. So that would have been 2000. Wow, for more than half of my lifetime, I’ve been racing!”
What is the best moment of your racing career so far?

“I’ve got a couple but I think my best one was in 2009. That year I was Dutch GT4 champion with my own racing team – PS-Autosport – together with Peter Stox. We built the team from nothing, and it was a lot of work but we had a lot of great sponsors and some really great races. Those were some really good years, and the championship was the icing on the cake.”
Which is your favourite circuit and why?

“I did the Nürburgring 24 hours a couple of times, and of course the Nordschleife is the most incredible track to drive. To the point that it’s almost not a normal race track. It’s so good!
“But there are a lot of other really nice tracks I enjoy too, like Spa-Francorchamps, Mugello, Brno, and Portimão. Oh, and Zandvoort. I did a lot of races there in the past and still do some coaching, so it’s quite special to me. I can’t wait for Formula 1 to arrive [next year]!”
Describe the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a motor race …

“I once won a four-hour race with literally no brakes left. I was leading, and we could have come into the box and changed the brakes, but that would have cost us too much time, so the team just said, ‘drive, but be careful!’
“There was also another race at Hockenheim in 2005*. I crashed my car during practice, and we had a spare we could use, but we were told, ‘you can only change the parts of the car that are damaged.’ And the chassis was destroyed, so we had to put all of the ‘good parts’ from the broken car onto the spare to race it. The guys worked all night on that. I remember, the spare [car] was yellow, and the race car was red, so once we’d finished, it looked really ugly, but we started in last place and I still managed to finish 5th.”
*That season Christiaan was competing in the Toyota Yaris Cup Germany, won three races and finished 2nd overall in the standings. One year later, he was crowned champion having won nine of the 13 races.
Describe your helmet design to us, and what it signifies…
“There isn’t a specific design really. I just wanted to have the Dutch colours on it, so it’s red, white and blue. It’s a carbon helmet, so I’ve kept some of the carbon showing too. When I was younger, I used to race with a ‘27’ on there too, because I was champion with that number a few times. But when I started racing internationally more often, it wasn’t easy to keep that number so eventually I dropped it.”
What is your greatest strength?

“I’m always very calm in the car, I don’t get stressed, and I think I’m very good at communicating with the engineers what’s happening with the car. That’s a good strength for a driver to have. I can also tell a lot what’s wrong with the car, setup-wise. When if you [partner] with gentlemen drivers, it’s more important that they are able to drive the car fast, and I think I can find a fine balance quite well.”
If Hollywood made a movie about you, who would play you and why?
“Maybe Daniel Craig? I’m always cool and calculated, like James Bond, and I always succeed!”
What would you like to achieve before retiring?
“Hopefully I will never retire! [Laughs] The only thing left on my bucket list, and it’s not easy, is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It doesn’t matter what category – a go-kart, a FIAT 500, whatever! – I’d love to compete at Le Mans one day.”
Tell us a random fact about yourself that your fans might not know…
“[Pause]… that’s a tough question because I can’t really think of anything. I’m not really superstitious, I just do my thing.” [Another pause] “I do quite a lot of coaching, and …oh, there we are, I enjoy helping young guys and teaching them how to ‘race’. There’s so much more involved than just driving fast: how to approach a race weekend; how to give feedback to the engineers; how to work on setup, etc. It’s something you maybe don’t fully appreciate when you first start, and even some of the older guys, more and more, they arrive at race weekends with their coaches. Actually maybe I’ll do that after I retire. It’s a little bit of the nerd in me!”
Finally, what do you enjoy most about competing in the 24H SERIES?
“I’ve done almost all of the races, and I was a champion in 2016 and 2017* with Hofor-Racing. And I’ve really enjoyed it because it’s all about the team effort. If you have a sprint race for 30 minutes, you just put the driver in the car and there’s not a lot you can do as a team. In the 24H SERIES, the driver is just one part of a whole operation together with mechanics, strategists, engineers, etc. I really enjoy that. Plus you get to drive at some really nice tracks, you get a lot of track time, and it’s a great atmosphere.”
*Together with Chantal and Michael Kroll, and Kenneth Heyer, Christiaan secured the A6-class Drivers’ championship and the A6-class Teams’ title for Hofor-Racing. One year later, the Swiss team secured the overall 24H SERIES Europe crown for both Teams’ and Drivers’, adding the A6-class title to their collection in the process.

*Christaan talked to David at the TCR SPA 500