Bittersweet success for Viper’s Wittmer
Bittersweet success for Viper’s Wittmer
It has been a big year for Dodge Viper driver Kuno Wittmer. In 2014 he became a father for the first time, won his first races in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and finished the year as the solo champion in the hotly contest GT Le Mans class.
After the spending the season with Jonathan Bomarito as his teammate, the championship was a bittersweet moment for Canadian Wittmer. SRT Motorsports elected to split their driver pairings for the final race of the year to double their chances of championship success.
By scoring third with Marc Goosens and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the result was enough to give Wittmer the crown. Sadly for Wittmer, not only did his regular teammate Bomarito not share in the driver’s championship, the Dodge Viper program came to an end two days after he clinched the championship.
Wittmer and the rest of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship winners were on hand in New York this week to collect their trophies at the TUDOR Night of Champions at Cipriani 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.
“It was a true honor to accept the award. The trophy along with the TUDOR watch represent how amazing our team was,” Wittmer said.
“This championship could not of been won without the efforts of my team and my teammate, Jonathan Bomarito. Jonathan and I really had a balance and worked well together when setting up a car and racing hard against our competitors. This is truly a highlight in my career that I can only hope to top off one day with something even bigger.
“Even now two weeks after the last race and only a few days after the banquet celebrations, it still has not sunk in. Winning this championship was such a large accomplishment. The GT Le Mans class is probably one of the most competitive GT classes around the world.”
Late-season victories by Wittmer at Indianapolis and Circuit of the Americas were enough to push him past Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia for the title. The Spanish GM racer was one of three drivers eligible for the crown at the final race. His regular co-driver Jan Magnussen missed the VIR race after suffering a concussion – putting him out of championship contention.
“As the days are passing by, it is slowly sinking in and the feeling is simply extraordinary. As a driver, you want to win races and pole positions, but ultimately the championship is what you most want,” Wittmer said.
“I have been with Dodge and SRT Motorsports since late 2009 and I can still remember my first race in the Dodge Viper like it was yesterday. The journey I have had over the years has been incredible and I’ve had the good fortune to meet some pretty special people. It is very bittersweet ending a race program with championship victories under our belt.
“Looking back at all the flights, hotels and rental car bookings I have had to get me to an event to race the Viper, the history runs pretty deep. I don’t regret anything I have learned or accomplished over the years driving the Viper. This program has been a major career highlight to me personally.”
The six driver champions of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in Prototype (P); Wittmer in GT Le Mans (GTLM); Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in Prototype Challenge (PC); and Dane Cameron in GT Daytona (GTD) received the Bishop-France Awards, replicas of the series’ new perpetual trophy also announced during the evening.
The Bishop-France Award recognizes IMSA co-founders John Bishop and Bill France Sr. Their sons – Mitch Bishop and Jim France – unveiled the impressive sterling silver trophy that includes the names of the 288 drivers who have won titles in IMSA, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÃ³n competition.
The six champions also received specially engraved TUDOR Grantour Chrono Fly-Back timepieces marking the championship year and class category, presented by Russell Kelly, Brand Manager of TUDOR Watch USA.