With four races remaining in the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX season, Nick Wittmer and his ST Racing co-driver Harry Gottsacker find themselves locked in a tight battle for the Silver class championship with the Andretti Autosport duo of Colin Mullan and Jarett Andretti.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Wittmer sets the stage for the championship showdown, discusses returning to COTA for the second time this season, the team atmosphere at ST Racing, and more.
You’re heading into the second COTA round one point out of the championship lead. What has it been like to be in a big points fight with the Andretti Autosport guys all year?
“At the beginning of the year we had a really good start and we had the lead of the championship. We knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. There’s a lot of good drivers and good teams, but we had a pretty good idea that we were going to be strong all year.
“Throughout the year, it’s been bad luck for Andretti, then bad luck for us. Everyone is getting chance at bad luck, and it always seems to come at the wrong time when the other guys win the race!
“Every time we had something go wrong, they won, and when they had bad luck we won. It always has come out even. The season pretty much is restarting at COTA and we have two weekends left to go.”
Is it strange to be going back to a track for a second time in a season?
“It’s a little strange since we’re so used to not repeating a race track in a season, but I don’t mind it because I love COTA. I’m happy we didn’t go back to Lime Rock or something!
“I love that track but it’s really not good for our type of car. But when it was announced we’d be going back to COTA I was definitely okay with that!”
Does COTA suit you, your car, or both?
“I think it’s a bit of both, but definitely more of the car. The car is super stable at COTA and can take the bumps. We say it’s a big boat compared to the other cars, and if you look at it it’s the only family car really out there.
“Every other car is a roadster or a two-seater car. Our car really functions well on bumpy tracks and going over curbs. COTA is technical but there aren’t too many tight turns where smaller cars will be fast. It evens out for everyone.
“Every time we go to COTA we have a very strong car there, so we’re really pumped for this weekend. Andretti was fast last time, but since we’re going to be going back I think we’ll be stronger than the last time.”
What are the team dynamics like at ST Racing?
“We’re a little team based out of Montreal, so we bring a lot of the atmosphere of family and teamwork. We’re here to have fun. We’re definitely here to win, but we want to have fun doing it.
“We all want to be leaving with our heads high. I’ve been on teams where you can’t do anything under the tent, they’re so strict, and no one talks to each other because they’re just there to do their job.
“Our team, we have a very family, friendly type of team. The drivers are so open with each other. We help each other, data goes around, and there’s no backstabbing.
“It comes down to: if I want to go faster, I need you to beat me and then I can learn where you beat me and go faster myself. We are very competitive as drivers but also very friendly.
“The competition with each other helps us all go faster on track.”
Does the fun-loving atmosphere help the team cope with the pressure of a tense championship battle?
“For sure it definitely helps keep us at ease. You don’t have crew members bashing on the drivers for doing a bad job or vice versa. Like when the hood popped up during the race.
“The hood popped up, you can’t do anything about that, it’s done. We’re on to the next one.”