LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 17, 2013)- In spite of an inherent struggle for all Porsches during Saturday’s Diamond Cellars Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Magnus Racing drivers John Potter and Andy Lally rebounded impressively to take a surprise second place, inheriting the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT lead in the process.
“This was a much better day than any of us could have ever asked for,” stated team owner and driver John Potter. “The Porsches have been down on pace throughout the mid-season, but a combination of luck and teamwork managed to get us here today. We needed this for the championship, and I couldn’t be happier for everyone involved.”
Leading up to the race, the inherent lack of pace for all Porsche entries was evident throughout practice and qualifying. The marque struggled so much, in fact, that the top-qualifying Porsche was only able to manage a seventh-best time, with all Porsches languishing between seventh and eleventh. Making matters even more tense, the team came to the race in a very tight three-way battle for the series point lead with the No. 63 Ferrari just ahead, and in a tie with the No. 57 Camaro. As the team rolled out for yesterday afternoon’s race, the theme of the day was simply to manage the best result within the car’s capability.
Taking the green flag late in the afternoon, John Potter’s opening stint demonstrated the Utah resident’s traditional mix of speed and patience. Making immediate work of Madison Snow’s No. 62 Porsche at the start, Potter began to reel in the No. 73 of Patrick Lindsey as the stint wore on. Following a long series of caution periods, Potter’s pace began to stabilize, driving as part of a three-way procession of Porsches toward the back of the field.
As fate would have it, however, the championship leading No. 63 Ferrari would be sent to the pits with a stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact by driver Jeff Westphal. With the car returning to the track one lap down, the Magnus Racing Porsche now found itself in a much stronger championship position.
As an opportune caution came out just past the one-hour mark, Magnus Racing’s pit crew once again rose to the challenge. Pitting in eighth, a full stop of tires, fuel, and driver change would bring the team back out in fifth, with driver Andy Lally now behind the wheel.
Leading the Porsche contingent, Lally drove his usual mistake-free middle stint. Unable to match the pace of the leaders, the only hope for the team turned to the weather, with threatening skies and light drops of rain consistently keeping the attention of team engineers.
Pitting Lally for the final time with 50 minutes to go, another perfect stop by the crew placed the No. 44 in a prime position for the finish. Sitting comfortably in fourth, the Porsche’s lack of pace against other manufacturers meant the team would settle for their position on track.
As luck would have it, however, the team’s championship fate would take yet another turn. During the final round of pit stops, the leading No. 57 Camaro of Robin Liddell would make contact with another car as he exited the pits, causing damage to his right rear wheel and forcing him to limp his car back to the pits. Adding further insult, the Scottish driver was issued a stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact in the process, sending the championship leading No. 57 well down the order.
As a result of the chaos, Lally was now in third place for the closing stages of the race. While this alone would have been a good day for the team, a tight battle between the class leading No. 94 BMW and No. 31 Corvette would come to a head with only three laps to go, as light contact between the two would send the No. 94 spinning, allowing the No. 31 to take the lead and cross the finish line in first place. However, race officials determined the contact to be avoidable by the No. 31, issuing a post-race time penalty on the Corvette and allowing the No. 94 a victory, as well as advancing the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche to second.
The team would take their second podium of the year for team sponsor Flex-Box, the eighth in the team’s Rolex history.
“What an unbelievable job by the guys today,” stated co-driver Andy Lally. “Our car had nothing on any of the marques in front of us, it came down to a great stop by the crew and a bit of luck. Lars made great calls throughout the day, and the reason we’re still in this championship fight is because of the great team that John Potter has assembled here. The Porsches are really struggling right now, but this team has managed to keep us in the fight.”
With one weekend off until the next race, Magnus Racing will cap off a busy June with a historic milestone at Watkins Glen International. Heading into the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen as the championship leader, Magnus Racing will campaign Rolex race number 44 for the team.
“Race 44 will be special, and coming in as the point leader makes it all the better,” stated Potter. “It will be great to celebrate the short history of the team, but we’re not losing sight on the battle ahead of us. The Six Hour is always a tough race, and last year was a memory many of us would like to forget. It’s been a great run for the team so far, and I couldn’t be any happier with the effort everyone at this team is putting into the program.”
Round seven of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Championship will take place in just two weeks, with the historic Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen. As the second round of the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC), Magnus Racing will arrive for their 44th Rolex Sports Car Series race, and as the reigning NAEC champions. Live coverage will be carried on SPEED at 11AM ET.