Following his successful debut with TRG-AMR North America at Watkins Glen, Kuno Wittmer is excited to finish the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season with Kevin Buckler’s team and co-driver Christina Nielsen.
The 2014 GT Le Mans class champion returns to a team he drove for in the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and will allow James Davison to focus solely on his Nissan commitments in World Challenge.
The original plan of filling in for Davison at Watkins Glen and VIR grew once it became apparent it would be easier for all parties to have just the one co-driver for the balance of the year.
“I knew the way Kevin has operated his teams and he’s one of the best in the paddock,” Wittmer told Sportscar365.
“It’s already similar to what I was used to at Riley. One of Kevin’s strengths is that he’s great on race strategies. In a driver’s seat, we may not see where it’s going, but it works at the end of the race.”
The strategy gamble at Watkins Glen to leave Wittmer out on slicks on an increasingly wet track nearly paid dividends, as the No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 was in podium position before Wittmer’s late-race accident left the race under caution.
Wittmer said he adapted to the Aston Martin from the GT3-spec Viper GT3-R “within two to three laps,” noting the similarities between the pair of front-engined, rear-wheel drive cars that also have similar braking.
At TRG-AMR, Wittmer will take on both a co-driver and mentorship role for Nielsen, who is running a dual schedule between the TUDOR Championship and World Challenge. He’ll attend the World Challenge races in a coaching role.
Wittmer has already spoken highly of Nielsen’s rapid development. The Dane currently sits fourth in GT Daytona points, 14 points off the class lead.
“With five races to go, what better opportunity to jump in and help her out?” he said. “Between having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and studying the data with her, I’ll almost be in the passenger’s seat, but not necessarily.
“She’s very talented. With what I can bring to the table, we can help her win a championship.”
The dual driving and coaching role comes after a tough professional period for the 31-year-old Canadian, in his 17th year of driving.
Wittmer was sidelined after the factory Chrysler pullout last fall, yet managed to win the Rolex 24 this year with Dominik Farnbacher, Ben Keating, Cameron Lawrence and Al Carter, and then had two Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge starts with Honda of America.
“It’s one of the toughest years I’ve ever had in motor racing,” he said. “It’s been emotional month-to-month.
“It’s just staying active… if you’re inactive for a year, your reflexes may fade, and sometimes getting up to speed is tougher.
“Emotionally, yeah it has been very tough, for me, and Goose [Marc Goossens] and Dominik. We speak every week. We are still in close contact with Bill [Riley].
“One of the other things that kept me grounded is my 10-month old son. Yeah I wasn’t competitively in a full-season car, but I’ve watched him from birth to 10 months old.
“Kevin and Christina made this happen. I’m really thankful. Like I told them this morning, they’ll get 110 percent all the time.”