LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 10, 2017)- Following the team’s strongest run in Pirelli World Challenge competition so far, Magnus Racing driver John Potter would take the team’s first series podium with a third-place finish in class during yesterday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third round of the GT and GTA championship. Pierre Kaffer would also enjoy a solid run in their GT entry, running quietly to eighth.
“I’m extremely happy with our first podium of the year,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and driver John Potter. “This was our first time at the track in six years, and with a completely different car, so we had no idea what to expect. Luckily we rolled off competitive in our first practice, and at a venue with so little track time we were fortunate that we stayed ahead all weekend. I was very happy with my own performance, but this podium is a testament to the team effort of this whole group, as we showed up prepared and ready, and the results bared the fruit of it. It was a lot of fun racing with the other guys in class, and it’s nice to come home with some hardware!”
Driving the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, the 2017 race would serve as the first-time the team had been at the famed street circuit since 2011. As a 1.9-mile configuration literally built out of the city streets of downtown Long Beach, the challenges of the course are unlike any other, with walls on all sides and very little track time to truly get comfortable.
Driving in the series’ GTA category, Potter wasted no time getting up to speed, immediately on pace throughout practice and consistently within the top-five. In his best qualifying performance so far, John would find himself starting third in class for Sunday’s race.
During the race, the Salt Lake City resident would do a remarkable job of staying clean throughout a chaotic first lap in which several cars around him would make heavy contact. As the race settled in, John would maintain the strong pace established in practice, comfortably in third until one of the most unique caution periods in the history of the sport would show itself. Fifteen minutes in, a nearby fire hydrant outside of the circuit was hit by a passing street car, creating a flood of water that eventually flowed on to the track, creating an unsafe situation for the race cars to pass over. As a result, the event was red flagged until the hydrant was fixed and water cleaned up.
Following the 20-minute delay, the race would resume, once again with Potter in third and now engaged in a strong defensive battle with a hard-charging McLaren. Doing an excellent job of preserving his podium position, a mistake by his competitor would lead to a crash, bringing out the final caution of the race.
With race re-starts being the best opportunity for passing, Potter’s podium position was under threat as the race resumed, dealing with two separate cars making daring moves to overtake in to the tricky Turn One. Fighting hard, Potter did an excellent job of defending his line on the inside as they approached, forcing his competitors to move on the outside unsuccessfully. As a result, John was unchallenged through the remaining laps, with the competitors behind him unable to match the pace of the third-place No. 44.
In the team’s GT entry, the No. 4 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS of Pierre Kaffer would run a fairly quiet race. Qualifying seventh, the opening-lap calamity that is notorious with the street circuit failed to disappoint, with the German avoiding major incident but nonetheless falling back slightly in the process. Within the Top-10 and setting some of the fastest times of the race, the track’s configuration unfortunately means it’s nearly impossible to pass, with Pierre doing all he could to get around his competitors but left helpless to make large gains.
As attrition and incidents continued, Kaffer would manage a couple of passes, ultimately working up to eighth by time the checkered flag fell.
For Kaffer, the potential is definitely there for a top finish.
“We had a great car for sure, we just needed a few breaks to get the most out of the weekend,” stated Kaffer. “The team at Magnus Racing did a great job of preparing our Audi, unfortunately Long Beach is such a unique race that you can’t really predict how it will go. There were some crazy moments that we managed to avoid which was great, we just need a little better luck during the whole weekend to really see our best result. I expect our next race will be a really strong one in Virginia.”
With the third round of racing behind, the team will now focus on the first SprintX race of the year in three weeks’ time, where the team will return to the familiar territory of multi-driver racing. Continuing their two-car effort, Kaffer will be joined by co-driver Spencer Pumpelly, with Potter joined by long-time team driver Marco Seefried.
Practice begins on Friday, April 28, with racing action taking place throughout April 29 and 30.