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Continental Tire IMSA Reflections: Kuno Wittmer

This week’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections with Kuno Wittmer…

Photo: Kuno Wittmer

Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.

This week, Kuno Wittmer looks back on his 2014 GT Le Mans class championship with the SRT Viper GTS-R.

What memories stand out to you from your 2014 IMSA GT Le Mans class championship?

“I think the biggest memory for me is how hard we fought to win that championship in the Viper GTS-R.

“That was a fight that when we started the year, we had a couple of tough results, so we had to fight even harder.

“The biggest memory from that season is when everything turned, I got my first pole in GTLM at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and from there on we just kept finishing on the podium and got a couple of wins and were able to take down the Corvette in the last race by just a couple of points.”

“The emotions that kicked in afterwards were just incredible. For sure the championship is the banner emotion, that was incredible.”

Your two wins came at special tracks, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Circuit of The Americas. What was the significance of winning at those two venues?

“If you look back at my career, in the late 2000’s I was still racing touring cars.

“Then to get to go into the GT program with Chrysler for five years and you’re kissing the bricks at the Brickyard after the victory, it’s incredible.

“The whole rollercoaster of emotions throughout that year was incredible. To me, I think the Brickyard was probably the sweetest win in 2014. COTA was awesome, let’s not get our emotions mixed up, but the Brickyard I’ll never forget.

“To get down on my knees with [co-driver] Jonathan Bomarito and Bill Riley and the whole gang, all kissing the bricks at the same time, it still brings shivers.”

Jonathan Bomarito ended up in a different car than you for Petit Le Mans after sharing the car most of the season, how did that come about?

“None of us knew that this was going to happen until we got there on the Wednesday of the race weekend.

“We all got to our meeting and strategically they decided to split the drivers for points reasons so that one car had the best option to win the drivers’ championship and also the team championship.

“We ended up winning both which was the most important thing.

“Jonathan deserved it just as much as I did, I still to this day believe that he’s a champion with me in that regard, because we fought together so hard that whole year.

“In my opinion, we’re both champions in this one.”

Who were your championship rivals in 2014?

“The biggest rivalry for me in 2014 was Corvette, that’s for sure.

“If you look back at 2012, 2013 when the Viper GTLM program got launched, already everyone was saying: Viper vs. Corvette, Corvette vs. Viper. This is going to be the battle, just like the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

“That whole year, they were our biggest rivals. It was a hard fight.

“I still remember at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park fighting with Jan Magnussen for the victory. The two of us took off and had a 30 second lead on third place.

“It was just banging door to door, and when you can put a donut on the side of the Corvette’s door and then have the driver come to you afterwards and give you a big high-five, that to me is racing.

“That was fun, it was pure, and that’s why when we fought so hard for every point.

“The cars were so finely tuned and if you were just off a bit, the Corvette finishes one point ahead of you, and there goes the championship.

“We were so focussed. We didn’t care about BMW, we didn’t care about Porsche, we just wanted to beat Corvette and along with that we ended up beating everyone. It was a great year.”

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