WATKINS GLEN, NY (June 5, 2016)- Following a hard-fought race throughout the event, MagnusRacing would take a well-earned second place duringSunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. It would not only serve as the fourth consecutive year that the team would see a podium finish, but also continued the team’s championship efforts with a current second-place ranking in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, as well as third in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT category.
“We really, really wanted to win this one, but I don’t think any of us can actually be disappointed with second,” stated John Potter, team owner and co-driver of the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS. “We came in to the weekend knowing we had a real shot at it, and I think we delivered a performance capable of winning, it just didn’t work out. As always, it’s a team effort, and everyone on the team did their part perfectly. All of our stops were solid, we played strong strategy, and Dion and Andy both did an excellent job getting us a podium spot. We have a lot of momentum going in to the rest of the season, and we’ll definitely be back next year, still looking for that win!”
Starting from the eighth position after one of his best qualifying runs yet, John Potter would take opening duties for the famed six-hour classic. Showing strong pace throughout practice, the Salt Lake City resident was off to an excellent start when the green flag dropped, maintaining his distance to the field in front of him and doing his best to show patience for the long race ahead. As his stint continued, an opportune yellow would present itself for the team’s first stop, with the team opting to leave Potter in to fulfill his minimum drive-time requirement.
By series rule, Potter’s role within the lineup would require him to drive a minimum one-hour and forty-five minutes, and with the team owner now in to his second-stint, the strategy of having all minimum drive-time obligations fulfilled before the race’s one-third mark appeared to be playing out.
Unfortunately, as the clock approached the minimum time, the team’s on-board telemetry revealed a dropping tire pressure in the left-rear, putting the team in a tough position on what to do next. With Potter’s minimum drive-time lapsing in a matter of minutes, if the team brought him in immediately, it would mean his required time would not be fulfilled and he’d likely need to drive another full stint. If they elected to leave him out until he met the time requirement, they were putting both driver and car at risk of a complete tire failure.
Slowing his pace, Potter did his best to delicately negotiate his Audi through the corners and put as little stress on his tire as possible, however coming out of Turn 10 the tire eventually let go, luckily only a few yards from pit entry. The driver immediately ducked in to the pits, unfortunately just seconds before his minimum drive-time would lapse, meaning the team would need to keep John in the car to run yet another stint.
Now running his third stint in the car, the emergency pit stop would actually not prove too detrimental, with many other teams pitting at a similar time, keeping the No. 44 on the same pit sequence as the majority of the competitors. Knowing that his pace would be critical, Potter drove some of his best laps of the weekend, maintaining pace with the lead pack throughout the remainder of his run, and keeping the team safely within the hunt for a win. After a faultless series of laps, John would eventually pit just before the halfway mark, nearly driving three hours to open the race.
After another quick pit stop by the crew, it was time for team newcomer Dion von Moltke to take his turn in the Audi. A veteran of the marque, von Moltke’s vast experience with the R8 was evident, with the Charleston resident immediately on pace to open up his stint. Having a reputation as a clean driver who rarely makes mistakes, Dion failed to disappoint, continuously moving his way up the field and putting the team in a position to fight for the podium as his laps continued on.
With two-and-a-half hours remaining, it was time for yet another stop as well as a driver change, opting to put Andy Lally in for the remainder of the race. With Lally in the car, all focus was on moving to the front, and the New York native did just that.
Growing up in Long Island, this is often considered the “home track” for Andy, and one that always provides a little extra motivation for him to win at. As the laps continued, Andy would continue to set a series of fast laps, eventually moving his way up to to third, then second, and eventually taking the lead as his first stint came to a close.
Unfortunately, with 90 minutes remaining, the team’s penultimate pit stop would suffer a minor setback that would cost the team valuable time, with Lally rejoining the track behind several of the cars that he’d managed to pass minutes before.
With one stop to go, it was clear that strategy would play a major factor in the race’s outcome, and the team patiently waited to see how the event unfolded. Continuing his pursuit of the front, Andy continued to make several gains on the field in front of him, once again putting his No. 44 in to a podium position as the team figured out their next move.
Now in the window for their final stop, the team would play their strategy by bringing in Lally with just over 50 minutes remaining, taking a full load of fuel and tires to take him to the end.
However, as the rest of the field continued to cycle through stops, a series of different strategies would begin to appear, most notably the No. 63 Ferrari who all of a sudden re-appeared with an 11-second lead, which was indicative of the team’s decision to not change tires.
Doing his best to move up the field, a third-place Lally would spend several laps in pursuit of the No. 33 Viper driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen in second, however he would struggle due to the vastly different strengths and weaknesses of the two cars. Eventually, a major back-up in traffic would result in contact between the Viper and Audi, with Lally managing to narrowly make a pass and move his way up to second.
A series of yellow flags would then follow suit as the clock continued to count down, and while this did help close the gap between the Magnus Audi and the No. 63 Ferrari, it also eliminated any advantages the team had with new tires and plenty of fuel.
As the laps closed down, Andy would give strong chase to the leader, however it was clear that the No. 63 had a comfortable pace to keep Lally behind, with the checkered flag eventually falling and securing another win for the Ferrari.
Securing second, the satisfaction with yet another podium was underscored by a slight amount of frustration with a missed opportunity for victory.
“We all really wanted to win this thing, so it’s tough to be completely happy,” stated Lally. “Ultimately we’re walking away with another podium and great points for the championship, and that is a testament to how awesome this team is. We put a lot of time in to thisrace, both this weekend and some previous testing we’ve done, hopefully second is a strong reward for that. John was spectacular. We really had to rely on him after that tire went down, and he went way above and beyond in his third stint. His times were impressive and that played a big role in keeping us in contention. Dion has earned himself a great reputation to play the exact role we needed him to play, and he did that perfectly. I really enjoyed having him on the team. Obviously we’re getting in to the crazy season with the next few sprint races, but our team is well equipped and we’ll see where this goes.”
For Dion von Moltke, an inaugural event with the team was a fun one.
“I’ve been competing against these guys for so long, it was great to be a part of it,” stated von Moltke. “It’s a great family here, everyone was immediately very welcoming and made me feel like a part of the team, and that goes a long way. Any time you can grab a podium it’s a good day, I know a lot of the guys here were really pushing for a win, but I think we should all feel satisfied with a strong run, I don’t think there’s anything anyone could have done any different.”
With little time to slow down, the team is hard at work preparing for the next event, which takes place in just a few days at the upcoming Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at the storied Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the series’ lone visit outside of the U.S. Practice begins this Friday, July 8, with the race taking place on Sunday, July 10. The event begins on Sunday at 11AM ET, with live coverage on FOX Sports 1.