Homestead, Fla. (April 30, 2012)-Concluding a weekend that literally saw the only dry sessions occur during Friday practice, Magnus Racing and the no. 44 Flex-Box Porsche GT3 Cup car took home seventh place at the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Grand Prix of Miami. While this was the team’s third straight top-10, it is a result that can best be described as indifferent.
After qualifying was cancelled on Saturday due to torrential rain, Magnus Racing’s John Potter was awarded the first starting position due to the team’s lead in the point standings, the first in his GRAND-AM Rolex Series career.
Driving an impressive opening stint in extremely wet conditions, Potter held off a hard charging Sylvain Tremblay in the no. 70 SpeedSource Mazda to lead for the first part of the race. Unfortunately, a small mistake would cause John to run off the track briefly, re-joining in ninth place with no damage to the car. Not alone in his error, several others cars would spin, run wide, and all bring back dirt and mud on to the track, eventually leading GRAND-AM officials to make the call to go to a yellow flag as they cleaned the track.
With Potter pitting and placing Andy Lally in the car, the team turned their attention to gaining ground and considering different pit strategies. Running a strong series of opening laps, Lally made quick work of the cars in front of him, moving up to second position before a rare, un-forced error would send Lally running wide as well, again without damage, but losing several positions in the process.
As the rain showers picked up, the race all of a sudden became interesting… or boring, depending on the team you ask.
Determining the conditions to be too extreme, GRAND-AM threw a full course caution to bring the cars to a manageable pace. During the first few laps of this caution, series officials made no mention of possibly shortening the race, and several teams, including Magnus Racing, took the opportunity to top up on fuel and change all four tires.
With a handful of cars not pitting, Magnus would re-join the field in seventh, Lally having his work cut out to beat the cars in front of him on the same strategy, as well as the cars even further ahead who had yet to pit.
However, it was all moot, as GRAND-AM officials would never waive the green flag again, and instead waving the checkered flag before the race had even hit two hours (of a planned 2:45). This was critical, as the leading cars in both the GT and DP categories would have run out of fuel had GRAND-AM chosen to run the designated race time. The arbitrary nature of the decision to end the race therefore had a critical role in the race's outcome, as the leading cars would have had to pit again had the series run the full distance.
“Winning this race might have been a little out of reach for us,” stated John Potter. “But at the same time, the result is pretty frustrating because it was an odd time to end the race."
With conditions nearly identical to other points in the race, the decision to stop the race seemed random at best, especially as very little indication was given until minutes before the decision was made to stop the race. Just to make matters worse, as the team loaded the transporter, the sun would peak out 20 minutes later, or more accurately, at what would have been the 2:30 mark if the race had continued.
At the end of the day, whatevs. The team is packed up and moving on to the next race in just two weeks time, the Global Barter 250 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, with live coverage on SPEED on Sunday, May 13 at 1PM ET. In addition to continuing the pursuit for 100 podiums for Andy Lally in GRAND-AM competition, the team will also be running a special program to be announced soon.
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Magnus Racing will continue to provide updates and coverage throughout the week via their Facebook (facebook.com/RacingMagnus) and Twitter (@MagnusRacing), as well as via www.magnusracing.com. You can also follow Andy Lally on Twitter (@AndyLally).
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