ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 13, 2017)- Making their series debut in the Pirelli World Challenge, Magnus Racing would end their double-header weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg having demonstrated an immediate pace and contention for race victories. Qualifying on the front-row in their series debut, drivers John Potter and Pierre Kaffer would both demonstrate a strong combination of patience and aggression, with Potter taking sixth and eighth place finishes in class, and Kaffer surviving a frought weekend to finish 15th and 19th.
“Overall we have a lot of things to be happy with this weekend,” stated Potter. “It’s a brand new series, brand-new tire, and at a track we’d never been to, and for the most part we had a seamless transition to the Pirelli World Challenge. Behind the scenes, every series runs a little different in the way of procedures, administrative elements, etc., and the fact that we didn’t have a single misstep all weekend long is a strong testament to the quality of everyone on the team. Our only ‘incidents’ were track related, and that’s just a byproduct of the hard racing that this series brings, and that’s what we came here to experience. A front row qualifying effort in our first try is something we should all be happy with, and had it not been for some contact Pierre would have had a great weekend. While obviously I would have liked to have finished higher, I’m happy with my own performance considering how new it all was. In general we learned a lot, which will only make us that much stronger going in to Long Beach.”
Driving the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, John Potter would take top team honors on the weekend. Arriving to not only a new series but a new track, the Utah resident knew that patience would be a virtue at the tight street-course, with the wall-lined layout providing little room for forgiveness.
Driving in the series’ GTA class, Potter would enjoy a patient run during Saturday’s Race One, familiarizing himself with the nature of the format and getting a sense of his competitors. Not putting a foot wrong for all 50-minutes, John would make steady progress as the race endured, ultimately finishing sixth in class.
For Sunday’s Race Two, a frantic opening lap would lead to a mixture of positions and incidents synonymous with the series, however Potter would manage to avoid all of it, once again demonstrating remarkable patience as he acclimates to the new format. Engaging in a number of battles throughout the 50-minute race, John would set some of his fastest laps of the weekend en route to an eighth place class finish.
Driving the No. 4 Audi R8 LMS in the series’ GT class, Pierre Kaffer would impress in his series debut, even if the ultimate finishing results didn’t demonstrate it. In both the driver and team’s first ever qualifying effort, the German did a remarkable time to set the second fastest time on the day, qualifying himself outside of the front row and setting the stage for what everyone had hoped would be a good weekend.
When the green flag dropped for Saturday’s Race One, Kaffer would engage in a strong four-way battle for the lead, with four different drivers in four different marques constantly switching positions in the all-out sprint race. Maintaining a podium position through his run, an aggressive pass by the No. 007 Aston Martin would put Pierre in a bad spot on track, with the No. 58 Porsche making a diving move in to Turn Three as a result. This would lead to contact, ultimately cutting down the Audi’s right-rear tire as well as leading to light wall contact. While Kaffer would continue in the race, he would be forced to pit for a new tire and continue on with a slightly damaged rear suspension, finishing 19th overall.
For Sunday’s Race Two, Kaffer’s race misfortunes would continue. Due to running much of Saturdays’ race with a damaged car, the Audi factory driver’s fastest lap would only place him 12th fastest for the race, and with 50-minutes to move up to the field Pierre would have to move quickly. Unfortunately, due to a chaotic opening lap, Pierre would end up caught out approaching the treacherous Turn Four, being forced wide in to the corner and with no choice but to take the turn’s escape road to avoid crashing. As a result, Kaffer would lose nearly a minute trying to re-join the track, which in a sprint race creates an insurmountable gap. While Pierre would do his best to gain ground, a lack of caution periods left him helpless to do much to the field in front of him, settling for 15th overall.
“Even though there were some disappointments, I really enjoyed my first weekend with Magnus,” stated Kaffer. “The team is extremely professional, fun, and they gave me a great car. Everything was working very well throughout practice and it showed in qualifying, the races just didn’t go our way. These things can happen and the series is incredibly competitive. Now that we have a better understanding we’ll be that much stronger headed to Long Beach I’m sure, I thank everyone for the opportunity to be here.”
With the first weekend behind, all focus now shifts to a circuit the team has visited before, albeit not in six years, at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Taking place on the city streets of the seaside California city, the team looks forward to the next round of competition, taking place April 7-9.