Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

KCMG Crew “Remarkably Strong” With Daytona Engineer Hires

KCMG drawing on experience of loaned Manthey Racing engineers for Rolex 24 debut…

Photo: Porsche

KCMG’s two significant engineering hires for its Rolex 24 at Daytona debut are “working the team hard in a very positive way” and contributing to a “remarkably strong” overall crew, according to team manager Matt Howson.

The Hong Kong-based squad has added FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro engineer Adam Hardy and 2021 Nürburgring 24-winning engineer Kai Stoerling to its backroom staff for its GTD Pro entry with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Howson explained that the two Manthey Racing loanees, who are signed for Daytona only, are helping to push the KCMG crew forward as it adjusts to the IMSA environment.

Patrick Pilet, Alexandre Imperatori, Dennis Olsen and Laurens Vanthoor form the Rolex 24 driver lineup.

“The good thing about having people of Adam’s and Kai’s level is that it forces the rest of the team to be at that level,” Howson told Sportscar365.

“We’re looking for every small advantage. It’s working the team hard but in a very positive way, in the same way that having drivers of a very high level forces you to be much better. You can’t relax.

“I think the combination of the way that Adam is running the engineering group and the way the drivers have been very demanding meant that we arrived with a good foundation.

“We arrived off the back of Spa where we finished fifth with no reliability issues. So we know that we can produce the necessary structure to be competitive and the structure was there for Adam and Kai to just slot right in.

“If they ask for it, they get it. And if we don’t have it, we get it. It all happens relatively close to the event for lots of different reasons, but we just make it happen.

“From the performance that we’ve had, I think that’s all evidence of the work that’s being done behind the scenes.”

KCMG started preparing for its IMSA debut “around five months ago” according to Howson, who then went on a fact-finding mission to the race at VIR last October.

The team has some mechanics with IMSA experience, including a member of the Proton-operated WeatherTech Racing Porsche GTLM team from last year.

KCMG has also recruited a new crew chief in Dan Munns, who previously worked with GR Racing in the WEC.

Hardy and Stoerling, meanwhile, form part of a six-person engineering group that also includes full-time KCMG damper, systems, IT and support engineers.

Howson and Hardy got in contact based on their previous work together on KCMG’s 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning LMP2 program, when Howson was a driver.

“I asked the question, but obviously Adam is working with Manthey,” Howson explained.

“So it was a question of checking how he felt about doing GT3 and Daytona. He was very open, especially when he heard about the driver lineup we were coming in with.

“The idea with Kai was that he has a lot of GT3 experience whereas Adam is predominantly on the RSR. So that’s a way of ensuring that we’re at absolute full strength on the engineering level.

“Kai also worked with us at the Nürburgring in 2020 when we had the Porsche reshuffle due to the Le Mans COVID outbreak. It was initially personal relationships, then really good co-operation between KCMG, Porsche and Manthey to make sure that we could make everything work for everybody.

“That’s how we ended up with what is a remarkably strong group of people.”

Hardy, who first worked with KCMG owner Paul Ip during the 2010 Chinese Touring Car Championship, described his return to the GT3 ranks as an “eye-opener” after mainly focusing on Porsche’s No. 92 factory GTE-Pro car in recent years.

The Brit has worked sporadic GT3 events including Manthey’s 2018 Nürburgring 24 win and the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, but this weekend marks his first race as an engineer on the current iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3 R that was introduced in 2019.

“You get massively spoilt in factory racing,” Hardy told Sportscar365.

“I grew up through the ranks, so it’s good to come back here for a bit of a reality check. It’s definitely been an eye-opener.

“The organization is probably the biggest difference: a lot of stuff has been rented. And coming into a car that I don’t know as well. If it was an RSR I would be a lot more confident, but I’m very happy to have Kai with me and that’s where it’s worked really well.”

KCMG Making IMSA Debut “The Hard Way”

Howson reckons that KCMG has assembled its Daytona team “the hard way” by using its full-time staff from Europe with some event-specific additions, but believes that this approach is the most beneficial.

“There were options where we could have done an arrive and drive with the car, but you don’t learn properly when you do that,” he explained.

“It’s better to come here and just start your preparations nice and early, and go through the motions.

“If you come here and employ four or five IMSA regulars from another team, they take too much off your hands and you can’t do it yourself.

“We’ve definitely done it the hard way in that respect. But that level of challenge is what we’re all here for.

“Especially if we deliver the result that we think we can, it’s going to make it all the sweeter.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

Click to comment

More in WeatherTech Championship