Perfect strategy gives AWA Racing BMW Endurance Challenge win
WITTMER / FIDANI CHARGED THROUGH THE ACTION PACKED RACE DURING THE BMW ENDURANCE CHALLENGE AT DAYTONA TO FINALLY GET THAT DAYTONA WIN
A total of seven neutralizations shuffled the team strategies throughout the race and AWA Racing had a solid strategy. Kuno Wittmer drove the first hour before handing the car over to Orey Fidani from first place. Fidani drove very well during his stint through the middle portion of the race. Having been shuffled back to 19th place at one time because of pitstops and full course yellow, Fidani kept the #13 in the fight before diving into the pits in a very good position for Wittmer to take over and continue to move up the order.
“The race evolved in a way that we kind of designed it would for our car as we had a strategy in place and we just adapted to the full course yellow on what we needed to do. The McLaren 570S itself was flawless, it ran strong the entire race. Hats off to McLaren and even more to AWA Racing. They really did a great job preparing over the winter and also over last season racing in Canada. And my teammate Orey drove a heck of a race as well with some solid lap times.”
With just over 50 minutes to go, AWA Racing brought their car into the pits for one more service just as the caution period ended. Stopping as the green flag waved was a move that counted immensely for sudden gain of position as another safety car period neutralized the field with about 20 minutes to go in this 4 hour race as it put AWA Racing in second place for the restart.
“We came in when the second to the last full course yellow went back to green,” explained Kuno. Instead of crossing the line with the green, we pitted under green right away and that was a smart strategy amongst the team.”
Occupying second place on the restart, Wittmer did not waste anytime and made a move to regain finally regain the lead AWA Racing had at the beginning of the race.
With 10 minutes to go and with a comfortable lead at the time, IMSA officials had to deploy the safety car once more due to a TCR car that came to a stop in a precarious place.
The lead vanishing, Wittmer had to be alert on the restart as there were four BMW M4 GT4 chasing after the AWA Racing McLaren 570S GT4.
“At that point, the team gave me the green light as we did not need to conserve fuel or tires anymore; basically don’t let anyone pass you was the message.”Said Kuno.
At the restart, Wittmer did an excellent job to keep a charging Mike Skeen (#82 Bimmer World BMW M4 GT4) behind him in the infield portion of the track. Wittmer was then able to get onto the oval turn 1-2 and let the McLaren take off and opened a small gap right away.
Kuno explained the strategy on their last stop. “One strategy we implemented was to minimize the time spent in pit lane. So, we then only put two new right side tires on. Naturally, in the infield turning on the side of the old tires that had over 60 minutes of use already was more difficult for sure. But the side where they were fresh, I was able to build a bit of a gap.”
On the last lap, The #13 AWA racing driver had opened up a lead of just over a second with four BMW M4 GT4 battling it out for the second and third place on the podium.
At the checkered flag, Wittmer crossed the line 1.169 seconds ahead of Bill Auberlen in the #95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 who had made the pass on Mike Skeen, drafting the Bimmer World driver out of the bus stop chicane. If it was not enough for Skeen, Robby Foley also completed the pass on the banking as he gave the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 a third place finish.
The very first full course yellow of the race was caused by an incident with the #59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 that was to be driven by Kyle Marcelli at some point during the race. The car had to be retired.
Having started form third place, James Vance / Alex Papadopulos ran up for with the lead pack in the early stage of the race. It is in 12th place that the #83 FASTMD Racing Audi R8 GT4 ended the race.
Motorsports In Action also stayed with the leaders and with all the shuffling happening because of the cautions they then crossed the finish line in ninth place.
In the TCR class, it was the first outing for the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and Mark Wilkins / Harry Gottsacker finished in a respectable sixth place.
The TCR win went to C. Miller / M. Taylor / W. Tally in the #17 Unitronic JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS SEQ finishing .736s ahead of G. Strelzoff / R. Eversley / T. Lamb in the #94 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic FK7 TCR and 4 seconds ahead of third place finisher M. Johnson / S. Simpson in the #54 Michael Johnson Racing Hyundai Veloster N TCR
BMW Endurance Challenge race results
The next race for the Michelin Pilot Challenge is to take place at Sebring on March 17-20.
Images courtesy: IMSA