LAKEVILLE, Connecticut (July 25, 2016)- Returning to a circuit where the team has notoriously endured challenging luck, Magnus Racing took a surprise victory during Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix, the seventh round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Once again proving a team effort, a combination of great pit stops, car setup, and outstanding driving has put the team back in contention for the GT Daytona (GTD) category championship, now currently second in series standings.
“It was an incredible victory,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “Lime Rock has always been such a challenging place for us, so to come in and take a victory, especially the way we did, is unbelievable. As always, it was a team effort, and everyone did their part with excellence. Yesterday came down to perfect pit stops by the guys, an excellent approach to our car’s setup, I’d like to think I did my part, and Andy was incredible. We thought this race would be one of our weaknesses, so to walk away with a win is pretty amazing.”
Driving the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, John Potter would take starting duties in the 10th position. With lap times that are typically under a minute, the shortest of any circuit during the season, Potter knew that maintaining a grip on the field in front of him was critical. Making an excellent start, the Salt Lake City resident did a remarkable job of surviving early chaos to stay with the lead pack, turning strong times and proving the team would be in contention. As the race hit the first 30 minutes, yet another caution period would cause many to come in for a pit stop, however with Potter still needing to drive his minimum time the team elected to leave him out.
This would cycle John up to second for the re-start, with a strong field that had new tires charging hard behind him. Doing an incredible job of keeping the field at bay, the team owner didn’t put a foot wrong, defending his position well and hitting his marks perfectly. As he closed in on his minimum drive-time, another opportune caution period would present itself. Unfortunately, it was declared a “short yellow” meaning the pits would be closed, forcing Potter to pit after he’d taken the green flag on a re-start.
Coming in for the first of two pit-stops, Potter would hand the car over to Andy Lally, with the team performing their usual excellent service to send him on his way. Due to the short lap times of Lime Rock, the New York native would re-enter the field a lap down, but with a fast car capable of regaining lost ground.
As the stint continued, Lally’s ability to work through the field on new tires was evident, and the driver, who grew up just two hours away in Long Island, would eventually get himself back on the lead lap. As his stint continued on, a perfectly-timed yellow with 66 minutes remaining would allow Lally to catch the back of the GTD field before the final round of pit stops began.
Following another solid stop, it was now up to Andy for the final hour of the race, sitting in seventh but with a very fast car. With a specific setup designed for the final hour, the team’s approach to have a strong vehicle for the end worked perfectly.
Wasting no time to work up to sixth, Lally would begin his march to the front, eventually gaining fifth position, then fourth, with nearly 30 minutes remaining. Following a controversial blocking maneuver from Audi counterpart Robin Liddell, Lally would slip back, but once again continued his charge and eventually found his way up even further.
With 25 minutes to go he was in a podium position, eventually making his way around the No. 33 Viper to finally take the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
From that point on, Lally would never look back, building his lead as the laps continued on until eventually crossing the finish line unchallenged. It would serve as the second victory for the team in 2016, and third in IMSA WeatherTech Series history.
For Lally, a win at his second “home track” is incredible.
“This was an amazing team effort,” stated Lally. “Not only has John Potter put together an incredible team, but he drove excellent yesterday. To start in second with the field he had behind him is challenging for anyone, and he was just perfect. John was incredible throughout the whole weekend to be honest. The guys performed perfect pit stops, and the approach we took with setup ended up being the right call. It’s such a joy to have a car like this, and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone for it.”
Now 13 points out of the championship lead, Magnus Racing will head to the eighth round of the championship at the infamous Road America with a keen eye on continuing their momentum. Practice will begin on Friday, August 5, with the race taking place on August 7. Coverage will be featured on Fox Sports 1 at 4PM ET.