ALTON, Virginia (August 25, 2014)- Taking part in the first-ever GT only race for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Magnus Racing used a combination of strategy and patience to take sixth place during Sunday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR, the ninth round of the GT Daytona (GTD) category.
“It was a good change of fortune for us given our last few races,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “We’re happiest when we can walk away with trophies, but we’re definitely closer to where want to be and in great shape for the final two rounds.”
After several strong showings in practice, the No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT America would qualify seventh for Sunday’s round, with the team’s race-long pace looking strong for the event.
Unfortunately, the day turned for the team before the race even began, as John Potter’s opening stint was marred by an electrical issue that forced him to start from the back of the field. Regardless, the Salt Lake City resident did his usual steady drive of coming up from the back, demonstrating both pace and patience as he moved up several spots during the opening hour, threatening for the top-10 as the laps continued. Adding to the challenge, the team owner was under pressure to save fuel throughout his stint while maintaining lap times in order to ensure he had enough fuel to make his minimum drive-time of one hour.
As the one-hour mark came and the team began to run short on fuel, a timely yellow would allow Potter to close in on the field in front of him before the first round of stops. Unfortunately, under yellow flag conditions the field is not allowed to pit until the series declares the pits open for each category, which meant the No. 44 would likely not be able to make it with the fuel that remained. As a result, the team pit for an “emergency” stop in a closed pit, which is allowed so long as it’s just for a few seconds of fuel. Following a successful emergency stop, and then followed by the “real” stop for a driver change, as well as tires and fuel fill two laps later, Andy Lally now found himself looking strong to hunt down the field in front of him.
Unfortunately, a bit of confusion between the series and the team would lead to a stop-and-go penalty for Lally as the field went to green, meaning he would resume racing several seconds down.
Doing his best to catch the field in front of him, attrition and outright speed would advance Andy to eighth as the race went on.
The final key moment of the race would come with one-hour and ten minutes remaining, when yet another caution would come out and place a crucial decision on each team’s strategist. With the field bunched under yellow, the caution period presented a perfect time for all teams to make their final pit stops, however in doing so the teams would be running very tight on fuel to make it to the end of the race. On one hand, if the team stopped there would be a chance they may have to make another stop versus the teams who stayed out and pitted later. On the other hand, if the team played their fuel mileage well, they would manage to advance over anyone who chose to pit later.
Opting to make the stop, Lally came out of the pits aware of the situation, and would spend much of the final hour saving fuel. As the race wore on and several cars would stop in front of him, the team’s calculations showed that they would likely be in a good position to make it to the end, and based on the pace of the field in front of them, many cars in front likely would not.
As a result, the team looked strong to advance several spots in the closing laps, however it was all for not as a late race caution would ensure everyone could go the distance. Once the racing resumed, Lally would hold station to finish sixth. This would serve as yet another top-10 on the season, and hopefully change the momentum heading into the final two rounds.
“Everyone put everything they had into this race,” stated Andy Lally. “We would have liked to have finished higher, but with some of the early problems we had it was a good result, and sets us up well for the final two races.”
Concluding a busy summer season for the whole of the series, the events will continue in four weeks’ time at the Lone Star LeMans, a dual event with the World Endurance Championship taking place at the prestigious Circuit of the Americas. Practice will begin on Thursday, September 18, with race coverage on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday, September 20.