Tristan Nunez, the 2011 Skip Barber Summer Series champion, advances into IMSA's Prototype Lites Series for the 2012 season with Performance Tech Motorsports. The 16-year-old explained his goals and objectives for the season before this weekend's first round at Sebring.
Q: What are the key components of your off-season that have helped you prepare for the race season?
Once I signed with Performance Tech for a full season in the IMSA Prototype Lites Series, I spent my off-season focusing on getting physically prepared for the races. In 2011, I spent most of my time racing in the Skip Barber cars and I knew that I would need to be prepared for more downforce and G force as well as longer races. I spent long hours in the gym with my trainer working on strength training and building up my endurance. My guilty pleasure during the off-season is to spend hours practicing on iRacing to get familiar with the tracks.
Q: With this being your first full-time season in the IMSA Lites series, what is your target for the year?
I have set my target high for the first season and my main goal is to win the championship. It would be great to win races along the way as well. I know that consistency is the key though and I want to have strong finishes to contribute to a championship win.
Q: With a win this season, you could be the youngest winner in the IMSA Lites history. What does this mean to you?
Having my name go down in the record books as the youngest driver in history to win an IMSA Lites race would be a true honor. I feel like I have adjusted to the car quickly and the team has been able to find the speed we need to get results this season. I am trying to stay focused, though, and keep my attention on posting strong finishes to work toward a championship victory in 2012. Coming out of my first race with a win and making history would be incredible.
Q: What do you anticipate to be the biggest difference with the prototype developmental cars from the Skip Barber formula cars that you raced last year?
The downforce and speed is greater in the Prototype Lites car than in the Skip Barber cars. It also requires more mental endurance to race in the Prototype Lites Series, but I am looking forward to it. I find it to be a good challenge for me.
Q: Do you have the car where you want it to be for the race? Any feel on how competitive your car will be?
I am confident that I will be a front-runner. We still have more speed to find before the race, but I feel I will be faster than I was at the test.
Q: Is traffic a challenge at Sebring International Raceway and, if so, how do you handle it?
Traffic is definitely a challenge at Sebring, but I just try to get around the lapped cars as soon as possible and as smart as possible. Being smart and patient when trying to pass the lapped cars is key. I have to remember to stay calm and not get too anxious.
Q: You have had great success at the Sebring course, with two podiums last year and a strong winter test at the track last month. What about this course suits your style the best?
Sebring is a technical track and I'm definitely a technical driver. When technicality is required during racing, I feel that I really excel. I completed many laps and races here with the Skip Barber series so I have really started to learn the ins and outs of the course. Sebring was the very first track I raced at, so it's very special to me.