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KCMG Nürburgring Entry “Essential” for 24H Spa Prep

KCMG using 6H Nürburgring Endurance Cup round to prepare for 24H Spa with Porsche…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

KCMG’s participation in the Nürburgring 6 Hours is “essential” for the team ahead of its first Total 24 Hours of Spa with Porsche, according to sporting manager Matt Howson.

The Hong Kong-flagged squad, which bases its GT3 operations in the town of Kelberg near the Nürburgring, is running a Pro-class Porsche 911 GT3 R in Sunday’s Endurance Cup race for Josh Burdon, Alexandre Imperatori and Edoardo Liberati.

KCMG has committed two cars for the headline round of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS at Spa on Oct. 24-25, while driver lineups are yet to be announced.

The team ran Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s in the race last year but officially switched to Porsche machinery in February, resulting in a re-learning of several processes.

“This weekend is all about preparation for Spa,” Howson told Sportscar365.

“We’ve been running Michelin tires in NLS all season, but ahead of Spa we needed to get some experience on the Pirelli and in this championship.

“This year is the first year that KCMG has worked with a manufacturer at the level and height of Porsche. It’s been a big learning process, and it was important to do the SRO event together with Porsche to be fully prepared before arriving in Spa.

“It made sense to get all the team understanding the pit stop regulations and getting the drivers’ and engineers’ heads around the Pirelli tire.

“We get a lot of assistance from Porsche, but there’s no substitute for doing your own learning. Heading to Spa with two cars, it was essential to do at least one event to fully prepare us.

“Our outlook is to have a good race, not making many mistakes. But if we do make any, we’d rather make them now than at Spa.”

Howson explained that KCMG is fully embedded in the “matrix of communication” that exists between Porsche and its factory-supported GT3 customer teams.

While KCMG ran its Nissans prominently, the team is now benefiting from extensive race management support from Porsche which is generating lots of learning points.

“Porsche have a certain process which you have to adopt, particularly in terms of communication,” said Howson.

“There are lots of meetings and structure. That’s important because we’re as responsible for feeding back information as any other team. To digest that information, we learn and get stronger for the next time. It’s a lot of people and a lot of teams, a lot of information.

“There’s a level of precision to it that it’s a huge logistical operation. That’s been the main thing on our side, getting used to the channels of communication with the right people and understanding what information to give them and when.

“As a small independent team, we’ve learned a lot about how to structure our own organization, which has been really helpful.

“But for the most part, it’s a meet in the middle thing. Porsche want us to have our own identity: they’re letting us have autonomy.

“We just learn how to understand the communication process and manage the whole thing, because they want us to win as much as we want to win.”

“Incredibly Difficult” to Assemble Multinational Team

One of KCMG’s biggest challenges in recent months has been the organization of travel for team members based on different continents, which Howson described as “incredibly difficult”.

While its Porsche program is based in Germany, very few of the staff are German.

Personnel from Malaysia are due to land in Europe this weekend, while others from different Asian countries and those in Mexico are yet to make the trip over because of various travel restrictions and difficulties amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The absence of international team members prompted KCMG to hire temporary replacement staff for the first few NLS races.

“We were hit hard because we had to return to work very late prior to NLS 2 and 3, because a lot of the core staff are British and there was a quarantine at that time,” said Howson.

“It was on the cusp of quarantine being lifted that we could start. And then the guys from Asia and South America still aren’t here.

“We had to do the full program with five or six less staff. So it’s really been the result of effort from the people working long hours, far more weeks than initially planned, to pick up the slack.”

Howson added that he expects the core KCMG crew to be at “85 percent” capacity for the 24-hour races at Spa and the Nürburgring.

The team is ensuring that all its active pit crew head into Spa and next month’s Nürburgring 24 having worked at least two other events, to guarantee smooth race operations.

“Along the way we’ve acquired some new people who don’t have issues with travel, and we’ve brought them in early enough so that they’re now part of the team,” he said.

“That was a necessity. We were never sure, even to last week, which of the people we were able to get here. We’ve had a lot of backups.

“I don’t think we’ll be at any disadvantage going into the 24-hour races. It’s been difficult up to now, so we’ve been playing catch up. But now we’re stable and looking very strong.”

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.

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