Saturday, January 20, 2018

Magnus Racing Maintains Point Lead After Holding On at Barber

April 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Motorsport News

The Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, round three of the 2

Team Maintains Perfect Record as Top Porsche Finisher in 2013

Headed in to Saturday’s Porsche 250, the third round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, Magnus Racing knew that the emphasis for this weekend would be simply to maximize what they could out of the race. Taking a sixth place finish, the top finish of any Porsche in the GT class, the team was at least able to walk away in control of the championship point lead.

With the twisty 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park traditionally favoring other marques, the no. 44 Flex-Box Porsche GT3 Cup came in to the week knowing that outright speed would pose a challenge for all Porsche teams. Having recently announced that Flex-Box was continuing with the team for the year, having partnered with the team for the first two rounds, the team was working with extra incentive to maximize their weekend.

With a cold and wet series of practice sessions hampering the team’s ability to dial in the car, Team Owner and Driver John Potter took the car for its first completely dry laps during Friday qualifying.

As it would turn out, Potter would put in one of his best career qualifying performances to date. Taking sixth position, the result alone demonstrated one of Potter’s best runs, however that only tells part of the story.

“I was actually on a lap that would have been three or four tenths quicker before they threw a red flag,” stated Potter, whose quickest lap was aborted when qualifying was stopped for an incident. “Based on the predictive lap time, we might have even been higher on the charts, but I was still pretty happy with sixth.”

When the green flag fell the next day, the race would begin for an uncharacteristically short elapsed time; two hours. With most cars in the series only able to stretch a load of fuel to around 45-50 minutes, strategy would play a key role, as teams would need to decide when to stop for a “full” load of fuel and tires, versus when to stop for a shorter fill to ensure they could last the full race distance.

Running his traditional clean start to the race, Potter held position comfortably until the race would take a turn nearing the 20 minutes mark, as the first caution period of the race took place. Working backwards, this meant that the team would have one hour and 40 minutes left to run in the race, which would mean that if they stopped during this first caution, they would theoretically be able to run the race with only one additional stop.

Opting to go this route, Potter brought the no. 44 for routine service, but falling short of the required minimum drive time, Potter stayed in and would have to drive another full stint.

Not putting a foot wrong, Potter drove his second stint flawlessly. Holding position and knowing that preserving the car for teammate Andy Lally’s stint would be the key, Potter would pit for the second time with 50 minutes remaining. This would actually serve as one of only a handful of Rolex races where Potter drove the majority of race-laps in the car.

With co-driver Andy Lally now in the car, the Georgia-resident was tasked with moving the car to the front, but having to watch his fuel in order to ensure he could go the distance. As pit stops cycled through, Lally would find himself fairly comfortable in fifth position, until a late-race engine issue surfaced.

With 30 minutes left, Lally radioed in a possible puncture to the front radiator, which was quickly justified by the engine’s rapidly rising temperatures. As the team looked at the engine data from pit-lane, the car was running temperatures just edging on what Porsche engineers deemed as an acceptable limit. With temperatures climbing over the final minutes, Lally’s attention turned from pursuing the cars in front, to simply keeping the nose in clean air and trying to bring the car home.

The no. 44 would cross the finish line in sixth, with literally nothing but steam left in the Porsche engine.

“I’m happy to be top Porsche, and the guys worked really hard to get us there,” stated Lally. “John should be especially proud of the weekend, he did an awesome job. He ran a great qualifying session, and had to really put on a strong performance the way the race unfolded, and he didn’t disappoint. A top-five would have been nice, but considering we kept the engine alive and we’re still leading the points, we’ll take it. Road Atlanta should be a great circuit for us, and I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”

Echoing Lally’s comments, John Potter walked away pretty satisfied with the day.

“The fact that the engine made it at all is pretty amazing,” stated Potter. “I have to give everyone at the team and Porsche Motorsport credit, they all stayed very calm during the last 30-minutes and just worked through the process. We were able to bring it home, ahead of every other Porsche, and still with the point lead. I’d say it was a good day.”

The Flex-Box no. 44 will only have one weekend off until the fourth round, taking place at the prestigious Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia. Live SPEED coverage can be seen on Saturday, April 20, at 4:30PM ET


Source: Magnus Racing