Kris Wilson is coming off of a busy weekend at VIR where he pulled double duty between GT World Challenge America powered by AWS and Pirelli GT4 America competition.
This week on the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Wilson details how the VIR weekend went, how he uses sim racing to prepare for a race weekend, his expecatations for Sonoma, and more.
What was it like splitting time between Winward Racing and Rearden Racing in two different classes at VIR?
“It was pretty easy, actually. It was fairly easy driving-wise because they were both Mercedes. All the controls and everything are in the exact same spot in the GT3 as the GT4.
“I’ve done this before when I’ve run an LMP3 car and a GT4 car on the same weekend and I’m always trying to figure out where the switches and dials are between one car and the other.
“I didn’t have that problem at VIR, which was nice!”
What was the significance of the succesful weekend with Rearden Racing and John Allen?
“This year with the Mercedes and the Rearden guys and John especially, we’ve been doing a lot of sim stuff. Fortunately on the the sim you can use the Mercedes-AMG GT3, so he’s come a long ways from last year. He’s stepped up his game a lot this year.
“Also, the AMG suits his driving style better. It has a racing gearbox and the sound, even though it’s quiet outside of the car, inside of the car it sounds very good.
“You just feel very involved. It’s been good for both of us, John and me.”
How valuable do you find sim racing?
“I’ve been on iRacing for eight or ten years now. I’ve been to pretty much every track around the country many, many times, but I get on it and do 200 or 300 laps before I go to any race track even though I’ve been to those tracks before.
“It’s muscle memory. When you get in the car, you’re already tuned up. It doesn’t take you a half a dozen laps to get up to speed. Within the first lap or two I’m already as fast as I’ll go all weekend long with the exception of making car changes.
“I’m up to speed before we do anything to the car, which is a big help. Financially too it makes a lot of sense because every lap you turn in a race car equals money spent.
“For guys who are new to the sport like John, who’s been doing this for a few years now, they take awhile to get up to speed. The more we can do that before getting to the weekend the more ahead of the game we are.”
What were your takeaways from getting to race in the GT World Challenge America field at VIR?
“Well fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was in the Bronze group so I wasn’t really mixing it up with the pros.
“But if you look at a guy like Martin Fuentes who’s been at this forever, I was racing nose-to-tail with him. I’ve known Martin for a long time. A lot of the guys have been my students in the past like Shelby Blackstock and Trent Hindman.
“To see those guys get to where they are right now, it’s pretty cool to be out with them. It’s like hey, these are my students! They’re beating me, so I guess I did do something right!”
What are your expectations for Sonoma?
“The team went and tested at Sonoma but John and I couldn’t join them. They tested with their Aston Martins so I don’t know how much that will help us, but those guys are good. They’re learning the Aston Martins but they know the AMG.
“Plus we’re going to have Rick Cameron, who’s a local, helping us out this weekend. He helped us out last year too and he’s just a wealth of knowledge.
“We’ve also got four interns from the University of Alabama coming in this weekend so we figured we’d double up on engineering with Rick and our full season engineer Grant Barclay so we aren’t too taxed with engineering the car and teaching the interns.
“I think we’ll have a good weekend and I’m looking forward to it. I like Sonoma and actually used to teach their for Skip Barber for six or seven years, so I’ve got pretty good knowledge of the track.”