Passing on both their knowledge and experience to young talent is something former World Endurance Champion Timo Bernhard and Stefan Kuntz, coach of the German U21 national football team, are keen to do. The two Saarland natives coached each other for a TV report by ARD-Sportschau: at the Porsche Experience Centre at the Hockenheimring, Bernhard shared racing tips while Kuntz held a training session in the football stadium in nearby Sinsheim.
Now the two sports fans have met again in the Porsche Museum, where they discussed what the different disciplines of football and motorsport can teach each other.
Wembley meets Le Mans
When it comes to self-development, it sometimes helps to look beyond one’s own point of reference by studying another sport. For Bernhard and Kuntz, this kind of exchange is important. “I was really impressed the first time I drove with Timo. Recognising what other sportspeople do to be successful and how they go to their limit, that’s the point of the exchange for me,” summarises Kuntz.
Bernhard has also gained a lot of insight from the shift in perspective. “The way I see it, how meticulously you approach something is ultimately what matters. The desire to improve comes from within. I always wanted to win, so I dedicated myself wholeheartedly to motorsport,” he says.
For Bernhard, the highlight of the exchange with Kuntz is around the dressing room team talk. “We don’t have a team talk like they do in soccer. In motorsport, the person we look to is the race engineer, who is also responsible for the car and the technology. The roles are just different,” explains Bernhard.
The career after the career
Once a professional, always a professional – the path from competitive sportsperson to successful coach isn’t easy. After their active careers finish, many sportspeople challenge themselves in other fields or, initially, take some time away from the world of professional sport. Whether as a coach or individual, team spirit, the right mindset and perseverance are needed. The two men are convinced of this.
German Football Association U21 coach Kuntz adds: “During your own professional career, and especially later during the coaching role, how you handle challenges is both comparable and crucial. Your own motivation and the team concept are what make success possible in the first place.” Bernhard made the move into a new role after his successful career as a racer: as a Porsche brand ambassador and manager of his own racing team now, he shares his experiences in motorsport with up-coming talent.
A portrait of two achievers
During his 20-year motorsport career, Timo Bernhard successfully navigated the path from Porsche junior to being one of the most successful works drivers. The endurance specialist won championships in all sports car categories with Porsche, including overall victory in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. The two-time World Endurance Champion also claimed another record: in 2018 he clocked a new best time of 5:19.55 minutes on the Green Hell of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the 919 Hybrid Evo.
Stefan Kuntz has coached the U21 German national football team since 2016 and a year later guided the team to the European Championship title. The former striker also enjoyed success at national level and was a member of the team that won the men’s European Championship in 1996. As a Bundesliga player he also won the German Championship and the German Football Association Cup, and scored a total of 179 goals in 449 official matches.