Kuno Wittmer Making The Transition To LMP3 Prototype
AWA RACING COMPLETED A SHORT TURNAROUND IN THE OFF-SEASON TO BE READY FOR IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP IN LMP3
AWA racing, who had been successfully competing in Michelin Pilot Challenge with a McLaren 570S GT4 in 2020 and 2021 season has been working non-stop to get their Duqueine D08 LMP3 car ready for the Roar weekend.
They had briefly tested an available car last Fall at CTMP and were quite impressed with the prototype. Drivers on hand were team’s regular Kuno Wittmer and Orey Fidani.
Kuno Wittmer felt like he was going back in time : “Right after the Michelin Pilot race at VIR (early October, NDLR), we had a 2-day test at CTMP with the LMP3. It was really impressive. They’re fast and beautiful to work on for the team. And from a drive’s point of view everything makes sense; It drives the way it was intended to be. It is a little bit going back to the roots of my GTLM days where you had a lot of aero, big sticky tires and no ABS or traction control. So, it is something I was very familiar with. Getting up to speed was no issue at all.”
Asked if it was more physical to drive an LMP3, Kuno had no hesitation : “It is definitely a lot more physical. We have a lot more downforce that a GT car. The speed is higher due to the lesser weight of the car. The horsepower is right around 500hp with a car that is about 1000kg. But once the seat is properly set, it is not that bad. Your seating position gets you to actually lay down more versus sitting up in a GT. So you are using your leg muscles a lot differently. It is a lot more natural almost like an open wheel car.”
CTMP being a track where you carry your momentum with all of its fast corners, the team had an opportunity to test mostly the aerodymic set-up of the LMP3.
“At CTMP, it was more about feeling out what the aero could do and it was very impressive. Going flat into turn one and with a little bit of a lift at corner two was something, I must say. It was quite exciting.”
“AWA Racing with Andrew Wojteczko and Keith Willis at the shop worked their brains out getting everything ready and converting everything we had from Michelin Pilot Challenge to WeatherTech. So getting everything ready was a massive task.”
“Before heading to Daytona, we tested at a track in South Florida called the FIRM(Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park, NDLR). It was more of a shakedown test. We did not have the time over the Holidays, from the time we received the car early December, to rent out a track like Sebring for a day.”
“We did a 2-day test and it went flawlessly. All the little bugs that we had, we knocked them out. We are four drivers, not only two. So we cycled through the drivers to make sure everyone was comfortable as well.”
Other than Kuno and Orey Fidani, AWA has recruited Lars Kern for the Endurance Cup races and for the Rolex 24 they brought in Matt Bell.
“Lars and Matt are super good guys. They fit right in. The four of us really get along well and it’s only been two days. We are really are looking forward to the weekend. The shakedown, as you know, is really about knocking out all the bugs and actually getting the maximum out of the car was not necessary.”
“Matt Bell has a lot of experience at the wheel of LMP2 and LMP3 prototype and Kuno acknowledged that this transpires already. “It showed right away. Things we did not know about, especially coming form the GT world to LMP3, he pointed out so many factors in a helpful manner that we’re only going to benefit and make the team so strong. He is a great asset to have on-board for certain.”
Kuno has had the opportunity to race the Rolex 24 in previous year and as a Rolex watch to prove it. Having been away from it for some time, he is really looking forward to this year’s Rolex 24.
“It’s fantastic. To look back at what I’ve down in my career so far in WeatherTech and then to step back a little bit and do the TCR series and then two years in IMPC and now going back to WeatherTech is a dream come true. It’s a beautiful series. But getting back into the long distance races like the Rolex 24, 12H of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, the big ones is a dream for a driver.”
“A big thank you to Orey(Fidani, NDLR) and AWA Racing that I have this opportunity to do this at 39 and looking forward to do this for many more years. Orey has been a gentleman, a scholar, a friend and great teammate. It is not really about me in one regard. It is great to be back, although my priority is to have Orey feel good in the car and get the pace out of him; to coach him well and to perform.”
The Roar starts today at Daytona International Speedway and there is quite a bit of work for AWA racing to get up to speed.
“We want to get Orey comfortable and confident with the car driving in the daylight and nighttime. For the car itself, it is to get to know the car a little more as we don’t know it that great yet. We know roughly what the car can do on paper but to actually test it and turn knobs we haven’t done any of that yet. So it is going to be new learning curve for the engineers and drivers as well. It’s important for the team to have their procedures right, practice pit stops, driver change and all for the big race. We did a lot at the shakedown as far as the procedures but we now need to implement them in an actual IMSA weekend with the 60 cars around us.”
Roar schedule here.
Main image: Patrice Marchessault / PMstills Photography