Sunday, January 27, 2013

Interview with Fabryce Kutyba part 2: 2013 season with Audi and more


By Tarek Ramchani

GMG Racing is the only Audi team fielding the Audi R8 LMS in the Pirelli World Challenge series in North America. The team have been loyal to Audi and Porsche for a very long time. We were pleased to have an interview with Fabryce Kutyba, vice president of GMG Racing. A very interesting Q/A about the history of the team, the team's plans for the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge season, the future of North American sportscar racing and more. Here is part two, you can read part one of the interview right here.

GMG debuted the R8 LMS in the World Challenge, what are your thoughts on the 2012 season?

For GMG 2012 was simply a test year we wanted to evaluate the cars performance potential in competition. I feel that 2012 taught us a lot about the car especially its weak points as well as its strong points. We were able to show the car was within the performance envelope that it needed to be in, in order to be a front running car. The team worked very hard in analyzing the performance potential of the car. I have been involved in pro racing in one way or another for over a decade now and the dedication and countless hours the team put in during the 2012 season was amazing I would say they are the some of the hardest working most dedicated guys out there today and with their global racing experience some of the best in the business as well. Early test and even an evaluation in a competition showed that the R8 was very capable. I am pleased to say that GMG was the first team to score a overall win with a R8 LMS in North America in 2012 when we decided to evaluate the cars potential at a race in late spring at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern Ca. The team entered the car in a 4 hour enduro and won by over 3.5 laps.

How did the GMG Audi R8 LMS story / project in the World Challenge begin and then grow to a total of now four cars at GMG?

See my notes above in my answer in part 1. There is an explanation of how the cars came to GMG. The R8 proved to be a competitive car, it was also an opportunity for GMG to race a very special car.

We have a very strong relationship with Porsche Motorsport in North America and Porsche has an amazing customer supported racing program. In fact it is my opinion that they set the bar globally when it comes to this type of racing.. Audi really didn’t have any presence racing in North America in many years. It was an opportunity to bring our level of experience to the Audi brand and it was a great opportunity to work with the factory to develop this program. I have to admit it’s very gratifying to see this program develop from infancy. I have always been the Audi die hard at GMG so it’s almost like seeing your child grow up.. It’s very exciting for me to be part of this program and working with Audi Sport Customer Racing. People love the R8 LMS every time we take it to a public event or a car meet people can’t get enough of it.

The GT3 specification R8 LMS has been described as differing significantly from the World Challenge specification R8 LMS. What are the most notable difference between these two versions?

The base car is the R8 LMS GT3 R16 for World Challenge however there are some considerable changes to the cars aerodynamics. Visually you can see the WC spec car to not have the aerodynamic aids of the GT3 spec car. Additionally our cars performance is also restricted by engine restrictors to bring down the power the engine produces. Additionally the R8 LMS was developed for smooth high speed European tracks where it can take advantage of its aerodynamics our tracks in North America are much bumpier, we have a different climate we race in and different conditions even the racing surface is different. This poses many challenges for our engineers and mechanics in developing the cars suspension and handling characteristics not to mention its limited aero as set forth by the rules. There was no data for any of this so we had to start from scratch in developing and evolving the R8 LMS to be competitive in North America. The R8 is very complex car that requires a lot of attention to get the most out of it from the mechanics, engineers but also from the drivers. It is very sensitive to changes but when driven properly it can prove be a very fast and a very capable car. The World Challenge R8 LMS will be known internally as the GMG -R8 LMS WC R16.

World Challenge rules are now welcoming more FIA GT3 spec cars for 2013, how is GMG Racing looking forward to this?

This is very exciting for us.. GMG has been pushing to adopt GT3 rules in World Challenge racing for a few years now. There is no doubt it’s a formula that makes sense. 12 manufactures that are building spec cars that you can buy from the factory ready to race. It makes sense financially to run these cars because the cars are not one off’ s the parts can be purchased from the factories, there is manufactures support in one way or another. No one has to try and build one off cars and it’s also easier to manage the performance of the cars by the series official so no one shows up with an over dog car and runs away with the series. I think this is the future for sports car racing and I am excited to see it finally evolving in North America.

The cars look very aggressive with the wider body designs but there is a direct correlation to their road car counter parts which they are based off of. And with a car like the Audi the engine is a stock engine which helps manage the costs of the cars and running them.

Will the introduction of more FIA GT3 cars benefit GMG Racing from a rules / rules lobbying standpoint in the series?

I don’t know if it will necessarily benefit us form a lobbying perspective but what it will do is allow our performance to be properly gauged against the competition because there is a baseline set by the manufactures. It will help teams run these cars at their maximum potential without having to spend a fortune in developing one off WC specific cars, which has been the case over the years in the series.

GMG Racing have been ALMS regulars in GTC and also in some Rolex Series races. What is your team’s view of the new unified ALMS and Grand-Am series for 2014?

I think it’s pretty exciting that this new series is being formed from what was GA and ALMS. There is no doubt that sports car racing has always been somewhat of a challenge in North America particularly with the different series running different specification cars whether its sprint racing in a series like WC or the endurance format found in GA and ALMS.

Sports car racing has never had the success of NASCAR or even Indy Car racing despite being the # 1 market place for many of the top manufactures in the world. Hopefully with the financial strength of NASCAR and its support, sport cars racing can rise to a level close to what NASCAR is.. You can’t argue the marketing, fan support and overall exposure of what NASCAR has become whether you like that form of racing or not.

What this means for teams like GMG? I think it will allow us to focus on a series and have some long term certainty with our plans as a racing team and a business. I know that both GA and ALMS are working closely to structure a series that is equitable for teams to run in this new series and I know they want to attract teams from Europe to race here as well. It won’t be perfect, it will take some time to iron out the detail so it’s fair for everyone. But, I am confident it will work itself out and sports car racing will flourish in North America. This new structure will also be very good for World Challenge because of its sprint race format and GA/ALMS endurance format there will be 2 premier series in North America for fans to follow and teams to participate in.

What do you think about the "American" R16, the Audi R8 GRAND-AM? Are there any plans to have a GMG entered R8 GRAND-AM as well?

The GT3 R16 WC spec is different in many ways than the Grand Am spec cars. We considered running GA in 2013 but felt that it would be in the best interests of our partners and Audi to focus on the World Challenge championship in 2013.

Depending on how the rules play out in the new series I would not count GMG out of potentially fielding a Audi program with a few R8's for the 2014 season.
We certainly have the experience (several GTC podium finishes) and team to run a front running program.

At the moment GMG has four of the older spec R8 LMS cars, are there any possibilities / possible gains within the series rules, to upgrade these cars into the newer specification "Audi R8 LMS ultra"?

GMG is in a unique position because we are the team working with the series ( World Challenge) and Audi Sport in developing the homologation of the R8LMS in WC.
There will be specific parts that we are developing in conjunction with Audi Sport for WC competition. The Ultra is a bit out of spec for WC competition as the rules stand today.
However with the series adopting the GT3 rules over the course of the next few years anything is possible, time will only tell.

Many Audi fans are in love with "Sophie," your S4 Competition, tell us more about the car.

Thank you… that’s very humbling to hear for such an old car to have such a loyal following.
Sophie is a very unique car, it was literally a rolling chassis that had been neglected and sitting storage when I purchased it over 4 years ago.

Sophie is Audi Sport North America Chassis #005 and it’s taken a long time to get the car to its current specification which in some ways is more developed than the S4 Competition EVO.
(GMG actually owned this car at one point S4 Competition EVO) Sophie was born out of many of the spare parts that were left over when the S4 Comp Evo was sold to a collector.. With a ton of parts sitting in the shop and the opportunity to purchase the chassis it made sense… It did take 6 months to acquire the chassis from the former owners . I wanted to build a special car that would capture the essence of what the s4 competition was originally intended to be all while improving certain parts of the car which would not be limited by series rule when the original cars were built.

Are there any possibilities that Sophie could be entered into any race events during the 2013 season?

The plan is to race Sophie in a few amateur series in 2013. Sophie is a little too old for World Challenge competition at this point but she may be at some west coast races on display. Nonetheless we will plan to race her and I will certainly share any video's, pictures of those events.

What are GMG Racing’s goals for the 2013 season?

Our goals are pretty simple.. As the lead Audi team in World Challenge we want to put a GMG Audi R8 LMS on the podium for every World Challenge race in 2013 and capture the Manufactures Championship for Audi as well.

It will be a very tough season for us there are a lot of great teams which are factory backed such as Cadillac and Volvo and with the addition of a few FIA GT3 cars the competition will be intense, this year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and competitive in World Challenge history.

We are confident that we have the team and the best partner Audi working with us to reach our goals.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all Audi fans to follow and be part of GMG Racing throughout the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge season and if they are at an event to please stop by the paddock say Hi and I will personally give them a tour of the team transporter and show them the cars.

Were excited to grow the GMG family and share this exciting chapter with Audi fans around the world. You can also follow the Pirelli World Challenge series at

Editor's note: A very special thanks to Mr Fabryce Kutyba and all GMG Racing team members for their great support.