BRASELTON, GEORGIA (October 5, 2015)- Following a wild event at this year's Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Magnus Racing would take a strong second in the GT Daytona (GTD) category. This would serve as the second podium for the team, ending a challenging season on a positive note. While the team was certainly pleased with their second consecutive podium at the event, it was bittersweet having led their class during much of the event.
“Looking back we're certainly happy for another podium,” stated Magnus Racing team owner John Potter. “It's tough because we were looking good for the win at multiple points during the race, but it just didn't work out for us when the series threw the checkered flag. It was still great to end the season strong, and everyone on this team should feel proud of the job they did.”
While the race was slated to last for 10 hours, an endless series of rain showers took their toll on the field, with series officials determining the conditions unfit to continue as the event neared eight hours. Eventually, the race was cancelled outright with drivers John Potter, Andy Lally, and Robert Renauer and the No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT America in second when the premature checkered flag fell.
As the green flag fell, the weeklong rain conditions would continue with John Potter taking starting duties under adverse circumstances. Knowing that attrition would play a major role on the day’s outcome, the Salt Lake City resident drove with patience and maturity as his opening stint progressed. Holding on throughout the opening hours, John would do an excellent job of keeping the car clean and not making a single error, eventually pitting during an opportune caution in favor of team newcomer Robert Renauer.
While it would serve as his first Petit Le Mans, the German driver came into the event as no stranger to wet conditions, and it would show as Robert’s time in the car would slowly move the team up through the rankings. Thanks in part to clever pit strategy and a series of fortunate breaks with caution periods, Renauer would find himself caught up with the lead pack by time the third hour rolled around, and shortly after the No. 44 Porsche would find itself in the lead.
Engaged in a stint-long battle with the No. 93 Viper, a slight run through the grass in tricky conditions would be Robert’s only mistake, which would prove not enough to keep him from the lead.
Following a several-hour run, and under extremely difficult conditions, it was time for Andy Lally to take his turn for the race’s mid-point. Taking the reigns where Renauer left off, the pace of the Magnus Porsche in the wet was evident with Lally making a strong charge to build a gap to the field in front of him, leading by as much as 12 seconds nearing the halfway point.
As the Georgia-resident’s stint continued, a two-way race between the No. 73 of Spencer Pumpelly began to become clear, with Andy’s 11-second gap slowly dwindling as Pumpelly began his march up the field.
With just under six hours completed, however, the race would be stopped due to the extreme wet conditions with much of the paddock feeling as though this may lead to the race being called early. With Lally in front of the field at this time, the feeling within the Magnus paddock that they may have clinched their first victory of 2015 was optimistic.
Unfortunately, the teams would be called back to their cars within the hour, and Lally would have to once again defend his position against the charging Pumpelly.
With the field packed up under the red flag, the race would resume with the No. 73 Porsche of Pumpelly in close range of Andy, and as the green flag dropped it was clear the fight would be close.
With the two drivers engaged in a nose-to-tail battle for several laps, Lally did his best to thwart his good friend throughout much of the stint, however as the faster GTLM traffic came through, Andy would find himself stuck wide entering a critical section allowing Pumpelly to grab the lead and never looking back.
As Lally began to focus in on recapturing the lead, another yellow, and eventually red flag, would stop the race for good with the No. 44 stuck in second.
It was a bittersweet finish for the team, who on one hand were happy to take their second podium of the season, but disappointed having been so close to victory.
“It’s a tough one to let past,” stated Lally. “It’s so hard to win one of these races that you really don’t want to see one slip through. Everyone on this team worked so hard to take their first victory of the season, and I really wanted to deliver it for them. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. As you would expect, Spencer drove completely fair and clean, he simply got me when he had the opportunity. Congratulations to him and the Park Place team for the win.”
For Robert Renauer, his Petit Le Mans debut should be considered a success.
“Of course a victory would have been great, but I think the team should be happy with a podium,” stated the German. “The Magnus Racing team was an excellent team to drive for. The crew was very professional, the car was very fast, and I felt very welcome through the whole experience. I’m glad I was able to take the car to the lead, and I’m sure next time the result will be even better. Thanks to John Potter and the whole team for the opportunity, hopefully I will be able to return.”
With the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at a clean, the team will take some much needed time off in anticipation of their 2016 plans. Currently, the team has not made any formal plans however hope to make some announcements shortly.