Pierre Kaffer believes his knowledge and diverse schedule driving Audi R8 LMS cars around the world will pay dividends in his first season of Pirelli World Challenge competition with Magnus Racing.
The 40-year-old German ace makes his PWC debut in this weekend’s season-opener on the streets of St. Pete, as part of the John Potter-owned team, which transitions from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Kaffer, an Audi GT factory driver, is set for a busy year ahead, not only taking part in all but two PWC weekends, but also set for a season-long campaign in ADAC GT Masters, as well the Nürburgring 24 and 24 Hours of Spa, all in Audi machinery.
“I think this is one of my advantages, knowing the Audi R8 LMS,” Kaffer told Sportscar365. “To give all of my experience to the team in terms of the sprint races, there’s some few things which you should understand, and I think we will be in a good spot.
“Audi has done a very solid job over the winter time. I think we are more stronger this year and we’re working on it.”
While having more recently been associated with Ferrari, namely with the Risi Competizione team, Kaffer returns to full-time U.S. competition after a one-year hiatus, although in a radically different environment with the Magnus team.
He said the sprint race format, and battling for overall wins, has been a breath of fresh air, particularly after a challenging season in Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup last year that was marred by incidents, traffic, and lack of track time.
“It’s not a secret that I like the States quite a lot, especially the race tracks and the format,” he said.
“I was thinking, last year, [about PWC] and how it looked to be a really exciting championship. It’s nice to see a championship like this that is growing.
“This year I think they have a lot of great drivers in the field, nice cars here. It’s really nice to be here.”
Kaffer will take part in four of the five Sprint weekends, while also missing one SprintX event, due to his factory commitments in the 24-hour races at Spa and the Nürburgring, but feels his knowledge of the car, and previous sprint racing experience, will help the overall program.
Spencer Pumpelly will join Kaffer at the wheel of the Magnus Audi for the SprintX weekends, adding further strength within the team.
“I did last year the last [ADAC] GT Masters race in Hockenheim last year and it’s quite a similar program from the racing style, especially the SprintX should be the same like in Masters,” Kaffer said.
“You have a window of 25 or 30 minutes and it’s a 60-minute race. From this point, everything is the same.
“Especially here, I think the key is to be quick on speed, qualifying is more important than in in other championships, and we need to be more precise on the point.”
While having qualified second for today’s opening round, in his return to the streets of St. Pete for the first time in eight years, Kaffer is taking a realistic approach to his and the team’s PWC debut weekend, and championship prospects.
“First of all, we need to settle in because for the team it’s a new championship, for me it’s a new championship,” he said. “First we want to have solid results and be in the championship and then we are looking where we are.
“I think it will be a difficult race with so many different cars. Staying out of trouble is a good strategy, but as we know at a street course, there’s not a lot of room so you need to be at the right point at the right time.”