A RACE INCIDENT AT LAGUNA SECA ENDED HOPES FOR A POTENTIAL PODIUM FINISH IN THE IMSA MICHELIN CHALLENGE
The Compass McLaren 570S of McLaren Factory drivers Kuno Wittmer and Paul Holton was on pace all weekend long at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as the team was optimistic in getting a great result from the 2-hour race. Unfortunately, they did not have a chance to find out.
We spoke to Kuno following the race.
Canadian Racers News (CRN) : From your perspective, how has the weekend unfolded for you?
Kuno Wittmer (KW): “We had pace all weekend long and in practice we were concerned about the weather being hot and more specifically the track surface being high. Although we have great Michelin tires, everyone was struggling to make the tires last especially in having performance left in the tires over a stint. We struggled a little with set-up.”
CRN: When it came down to qualifying, the track condition had changed quite a lot.
KW: The track temperature was a good 10 degrees cooler than Friday practice and it helped our car quite a bit in terms of performance. My teammate Paul Holton went out in qualifying and drove a great lap (Paul qualified the car in second place, NDLR). The pace was there and we were very happy with it.
CRN: Early on in the race, you had great track position and then you fell behind.
KW: Paul started the race and regain his second place from third then was able to extend the gap between himself and third. He then was in a great position to close on the #39 car (CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8, NDLR) but then we had a small issue with one of the rear wheels that came loose and had to pit. This brought us to the rear of the field, not the best of scenarios although it was early in the race and anything could happen.
CRN: Then, pretty much at the time of the mandatory pit stop window, the safety car came out.
KW: Indeed, it was right around the 40 minutes marker so we pitted right away. I got in the car as the Compass Racing boys did an amazing stop for us and we gained 5 places in the pits.
CRN: Then, after the restart, it all went sour for the team and you.
KW: On the restart, I was battling for positions and although we got a small electronic glitch with the car, it was not serious enough to not continue the race. On my second lap coming up to corner 6, I came up on the inside of the #92 car (RamseyRacing/EXRTeamPremat Mercedes AMG, NDLR) and we boggled a little exiting corner 6 and that gave the opportunity to the car behind me (#40 PF Racing Mustang GT4, NDLR) to have a better run and to come along my left side. As we were heading up the hill towards the corkscrew, we were three abreast I was the one in the middle and could not really move. At that point I’m thinking: “what do I do?” So I just kept the wheel straight and unfortunately one of them probably felt the track was funnelling down a little too much and did not see there was a third car. I was then hit by the #92 car that was to my right which propelled me into the #40 and ended up seeing the undercarriage of the car as it flew over my hood so that quite unfortunate for everyone and obviously it took us out of the race. Definitely a brutal result for us again with not being able to finish the race.
CRN: Another difficult result for the team
KW: Different circumstances than previous races but definitely this one was just a race incident. Nothing to do with the team or McLaren as the team at Compass Racing did an outstanding job preparing for this race, as usual. I think we had the pace to win, the McLaren had shown good pace throughout the weekend.
CRN: There’s one more race on the calendar, Road Atlanta. What is to be expected there?
KW: I think Paul and I both want to finish the season on a high. Coming here we were not certain to have the best car of the field although we qualified second simply because of the track layout with its second and third gear corners mostly is not necessarily its forte compared to circuit like Daytona, Road America and definitely Road Atlanta. in 2018, this car nearly won at Road Atlanta and we are going to go for it with P1 in qualifying and race.
CRN: Any testing taking place prior to Road America?
KW: Actually yes. With the damages that occurred here, we are going to go to CTMP for a brief shale down to make certain the car is ok once fixed.
Image: Patrice Marchessault / PMstills Photography
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