Kuno Wittmer puts AWA Racing on GS Pole in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
A POLE LAP THAT CAME UNEXPECTED AS THE FREE PRACTICE SESSIONS IN MOSTLY DAMP CONDITIONS HAVE HAMPERED TEAMS AND DRIVERS OF DRY RUNNING
The only practice session Thursday afternoon was under damp conditions as a constant mist kept falling over Daytona International Speedway. Some of the teams elected not to run at all.
“This one feels very, very good!!” – Kuno Wittmer
The situation remained the same this morning for the 45 minutes session. Following IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar practice, even though the sun had come out slightly, it was not enough to dry the surface completely mainly in the infield section for the third practice session.
AWA Racing completing the practice sessions in 12th, 24th and 8th respectively, Kuno must have pulled a rabbit out of hid helmet as he scored the fastest time on his second lap in qualifying with a 1:52.951 and that was that.
He cleared second place CarBahn with Peregrin Racing Audi R8 GT4 of McQuarrie/Wesphall by 0.532s and 0.768s of third place Winward Racing of Dontje/Ward.
“This one feels very good”, Kuno said. “I think that the fact that we tested here at the beginning of the month in the dry it really helped us. And it’s one of those things where all of a sudden you have practice 1 and 2 that’s pretty much rained out. And then you get to practice 3 where it’s still damp, and then qualifying all of a sudden is 95% dry. So it really helped that we had a baseline on what we could do on on dry tires.”
“We have a really good spotter on the roof of the Daytona International Speedway grandstands and he gave me a really good gap. And we knew we only had one lap to do it. And even the second lap there was traffic right away so that was it. And honestly the performance was great.”
“The team is switched on and so is my teammate Orey Fidani. We have a great package going and the McLaren’s performing great, really.”
Kuno has shown being very comfortable at the wheel of the AWA Racing McLaren: “Absolutely! I’m very confident in the car. Like I said, the team is just switched on, they could really weight themselves against any of the guys down the paddock with a deep roster like this.”
With a 4-hours race, what can be expected tomorrow, we asked Kuno: “It’s gonna be tough. I mean, first thing to do is keep our nose clean, keep everything clean with the idea that we come out of this race with no scratches on the car. Just the way motor sports should be. We are shooting for the podium. That’s what we want to do. And we’ll push for it I mean the AWA guys are quick, they’re always quick, and there’s no reason why we can’t. There’s pressure but we’re not adding extra pressure on our shoulders we’re really taking this one, one step at a time.”
KyLe Marcelli will be starting in fourth place as teammate Nick Stacey qualified their KorH Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Marco Signoretti/Scott Maxwell will start 13th in their Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4.
In the TCR class, Mark Wilkins’ teammate Harry Gottsacker came short of pole by .0372s as KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR were fastest.
“It was definitely mixed conditions throughout the practices sessions, Mark Wilkins told Canadian Racers News. “We had a game plan coming in as far as what we wanted to try with the car and we basically put it aside because of the conditions and focused on making the car better for the wet. We never know what could happen for the race tomorrow. We did work on the car for a green track even though we ended up qualifying on slicks we took a stab at it and that mindset paid off in qualifying as Harry(Gottsacker) did a great job by qualifying the car in P2.”
With a long race tomorrow, the team is working on a strategy: “These four hour races are a lot of fun and staying out of trouble in the first part of the race is what we’re aiming to do. And Harry being up front is a good place to be for us, although we have to be aware of the GS class right at the start as we get mixed up with them. We have to be smart and go through that. So staying out of trouble early on with Harry having the pace to stay at the front go the TCR field and hopefully bring home a strong result from this first race.”
Toronto James Vance is to start in 10th place with the Speed Syndicate Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR. Newcomer to the series TWOth Autosport will be starting in 15th place with drivers Ron Tomlinson/Travis Hill.
The 4-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race will run go green at 1:10pm Friday.
Image: Patrice Marchessault / PMstills Photography