Magnus Racing's third-place finish in GTD put drivers Andy Lally and John Potter into the class points lead after Laguna.
Monterey, Calif. The two, 2-hour races that made up Sunday's Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey may have been caution-free but they were far from action free. The races, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, made-up rounds three and four of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) seasons, respectively. In the first race of the day, the GTD event, Magnus Racing took third-place while the GTLM race, run later in the afternoon, saw Team Falken Tire earn the best finish for a Porsche 911 RSR.
The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR factory program took the checkered flag in third position, equal to where the car of Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Richard Lietz (Austria) started the race. However, following a post-race review, IMSA officials, the sanctioning body of the championship, applied a penalty for "on-track contact", per Article 48.3 of the regulations. The penalty, the equivalent of a pit stop plus 60 seconds, dropped the car to ninth in the GTLM standings.
The Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR brought home a fourth-place result here in Monterey. Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) started the race running the privately entered No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR as high as third before turning the car over to teammate Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga.). Following the stop, Sellers was able to bring the car home in fifth at the checkered flag. The team would gain one spot in the race results by virtue of a penalty assessed, post-race, to the No. 911 Porsche North America entry.
The two Porsche works cars finished in eighth and ninth-places in GTLM class.
Danish factory driver Michael Christensen started the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR in the race limited to only the GTLM and Prototype (P) classes of the championship. The No. 912 had first-lap contact, spinning the car in the turn-three of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit on the Monterey Peninsula. Christensen raced his way back to ninth before pitting at the race's midpoint. Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.), America's only Porsche factory driver, fought a damaged front end and a pressing SRT Viper GTS-R in the closing stages of the race. Long exchanged positions with the Viper before the checkered flag fell leaving the No. 912 in ninth. Following a penalty to its team car, the No. 912 rose to eighth in the final standings.
GT Daytona - Porsche Grabs Podium and Drivers Points Lead
In an unusual two-hour format scheduled for just the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona classes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Porsche 911 GT America teams battled Audis, BMWs, SRT Vipers, Aston Martins and Ferraris and emerged with a podium finish and the season driver points lead.
The No. 44 Flex-Box Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.) and John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah), moving up from the 19th qualifying position, claimed the third position to take over the GTD point lead. Right behind them was the No. 22 of Leh Keen (Atlanta, Ga.)/Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, finishing fourth.
On the second lap of the race, Patrick Dempsey's No. 27 Porsche 911 GT America went off the track and got stuck in the gravel. Dempsey was able to continue, and co-driver Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.) brought the car to an 18th-place finish, two laps down from the leaders.
The Porsche 911 GT America racecar - based on the worldwide Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer but customized for the Tudor United SportsCar Championship's GT Daytona class - won the Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, but, with 50 minutes left at this event, it was the Audi that was in the lead, with four Porsche in pursuit. Besides the two eventual top finishers mentioned above, Ian James (Phoenix, Ariz.) in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche and Jan Heylen (Tampa, Fla.) in the No. 58 Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports Porsche were all in the chase.
With everyone having made their first pit top between 34-44 minutes into the race during a yellow flag, it become a close calculation on fuel in the end. Four Porsche, a BMW and two Audis were all in contention for the victory in the closing stages. Everyone was counting on another yellow flag near the end so they could top up for the finish, but that yellow never came. With only 8-12 minutes to go, all the Porsche teams came in for a splash of fuel so they could finish. However, the BMW, which pitted late in the first-hour sequence, gambled on fuel, as did the leading Audi.
Nothing in racing is totally predictable, and the leading Audi ran out of fuel cresting the world-famous "Corkscrew" turn, rolled down the hill and came within 400 yards of the finish line before stopping. The BMW won, followed by the other Audi and the Magnus Porsche.
Magnus Racing drivers Lally and Potter now have 87 championship points, tied for the lead with Ferrari drivers Bell and Sweedler. Keen and MacNeil are in fourth place, only five points from the lead.
The next GTD race will be on Saturday, May 31, on Detroit's Belle Isle street circuit. The GTLM category will now break until June 29th when the entire series travels to New York for the Six Hours of Watkins Glen. The break provides time for the GTLM class drivers and some teams to travel to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 14-15.
Nick Tandy, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "The stint went well at the start. We were a bit conservative. At the middle of the race I started to push and I probably overstretched the tires a little bit. We had a good battle with the Ferrari and we got in front. I knew the BMW was on fresher tires so it was going to be quicker at the end. I was doing my best to hold him off and it was a good race. We got pushed out on the last corner."
Richard Lietz, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "We had a good start. We had the pace of the leaders and at the end of the stint because I took care of my tires I think we were even faster. Unfortunately it is difficult to overtake here because of the sand so there is only one lane here where you can race. I did my best. Then I gave it to Nick Tandy and he did a very good job as well."
Patrick Long, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "I tried to remain proactive and defend fairly against the Viper. Unfortunately, we were wounded with about 20 laps to go. We're looking into what happened. At the end, it was a situation where we were wounded and trying to salvage the day. We'll focus forward on the next round."
Michael Christensen, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "Coming into turn three a few cars went into the gravel and one came back on the track. I don't know if he didn't see me but he closed the door. He went a bit sideways and I spun. Everyone went past me and we lost a lot of time. The car was very good. We were fast and the car was its best of the weekend."
Wolf Henzler, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: "We had a really good weekend. The qualifying didn't work out as we expected, we could have done a little bit better. In the race, in the beginning, I was stuck behind another car and could not pass it. Once I did, I immediately did better lap times and could close the gap to the leading group. When I pitted I was right behind the front-runners. We finished fourth which is a good effort for the team. It is another step in the right direction. We've learned a lot about the tires. We were really consistent and could do good lap times at the end."
Bryan Sellers, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: "All in all it was a pretty good weekend. We showed decent speed all weekend. I think we were able to learn a lot. We didn't have the outright pace we needed on cold tires but we had great longevity. We were able to battle back at the end of the stints. We were able to get a decent result for Falken and, hopefully, we'll be able to progress and get a podium sometime here in the near future."
Andy Lally, No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "Wow, what a team effort. We've managed to podium every year at Laguna Seca since I've been with Magnus, and I was quietly hoping we could do the same today. We weren't sure if we'd have the pace, but the team was flawless, with excellent stops and perfect strategy. This was well earned, and one of those days that will go a long way in the championship."
John Potter, No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "Today was a day that makes you proud to own the team. We didn't what kind of day to expect, but everyone at performed perfectly today, and it was huge for the points. I'm incredibly pleased, and it's always nice to finish as top Porsche."
Cooper MacNeil, No. 22 Alex Job Racing, Porsche 911 GT Daytona: "My stint went better than I thought, just because I only had about four laps on the track this weekend before the race. School comes first at this point. I was able to get into a good rhythm and turned some good times out there today. I gave the car to Leh in the top five. The way the race fell, if we would have pitted a few laps later we could have made it, so would have everyone else. The way it went we had to come in with seven minutes to go and we ended up fourth. We could have gambled and stalled short of the finish like the 45 or go for the points. Not a bad points day after all, looking forward to Detroit."
Leh Keen, No. 22 Alex Job Racing, Porsche 911 GT America: "Fourth place is tough - just off the podium. There are some really strong cars out there in GTD. The BMW is a great car and it showed today. The guys worked hard all weekend. We were going for it. We put our money on a late yellow that never happened. The 45 did the same and didn't finish. We got a good top five and are taking home fourth place points. When you qualify on the front row you always hope for a little for more. But not too bad of a day to finish fourth."
No. 58 Madison Snow, Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports, Porsche 911 GT America: "We didn't have the best start and lost one position there. Tried to make up as many positions as I could but it was very difficult to pass. Ran behind the 22 car for my entire stint just couldn't find a way by. Unfortunately we didn't have the car set-up perfectly so it was difficult to drive. Just tried to save fuel when I could and keep the pace up. Only drove 40 minutes when the red came out and Jan (Heylen) got in. The crew did a great job with the car though, just limited practice time for everyone hindered set up."
Monterey Grand Prix
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 3 Jan Magnussen (Denmark)/Antonio Garcia (Spain), Corvette C-7R - 84 laps
2. No. 55 Bill Auberlen (Redondo Beach, Calif.)/Andy Priaulx (UK), BMW Z4 - 84 laps
3. No. 62 Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy)/Pierre Kaffer (Germany). Ferrari F458 Italia - 84 laps
4. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga, Porsche 911 RSR - 84 laps
5. No. 4 Oliver Gavin (UK)/Tommy Milner (Lake Mary, Fla.), Corvette C-7R - 84 laps
6. No. 91 Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)/Marc Goossens (Belgium), SRT Viper - 84 laps
7. No. 93 Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.)/Kuno Wittmer (Canada), SRT Viper - 84 laps
8. No. 912 Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR - 83 laps
9. No. 911 Nick Tandy (UK)/Richard Lietz (Austria), Porsche 911 RSR - 83 laps
10. No. 56 Dirk Mueller (Switzerland)/John Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio), BMW Z4 - 83 laps
11. No. 57 Tracy Krohn (Houston)/Nic Jönsson (Buford, Ga.)
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 94 Dane Cameron (Atlanta, Ga.)/Markus Palttala (Finland), BMW Z4 - 78 laps
2. No 48 Bryce Miller (Summit, NJ)/Christopher Haase (Germany, Audi R8 LMS - 78 laps
3. No. 44 John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah)/Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.), Porsche 911 GT America - 78 laps
4. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.)/Leh Keen (Atlanta), Porsche 911 GT America - 78 laps
5. No. 35 Seth Neiman (San Francisco, Calif)/Dion von Moltke (Coral Gables, Fla.), Audi R8 LMS - 78 laps
6. No. 45 Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Ga.)/Nelson Canache, Jr. (Venezuela), Audi R8 LMS -77 laps
8. No. 23 Ian James (Phoenix)/Mario Farnbacher (Germany)/ Porsche 911 GT America - 77 laps
9. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.)/Kevin Estre (France), Porsche 911 GT America - 77 laps
11. No. 58 Jan Heylen (Tampa, Fla.)/Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah), Porsche 911 GT America - 77 laps
12. No. 30 Kuba Giermaziak (Poland)/Henrique Cisneros (Miami, Fla.), Porsche 911 GT America - 77 laps
15. No. 71 Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.)/Dr. Jim Norman (Tampa, Fla.), Porsche 911 GT America - 76 laps
17. No. 81 Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/Bob Faieta (Los Angeles)/Mike Avenatti (Sacramento, Calif.) , Porsche 911 GT America - 76 laps
18. No. 18 Matt Bell (Los Altos, Calif.)/David Calvert-Jones (Los Angeles, Calif.), Porsche 911 GT America, 76 laps
19. No. 27 Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, Calif.)/Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.), Porsche 911 GT America - 75 laps
21. No. 19 Mark Kvamme (Columbus, Ohio)/Dillon Mechaverem (Charlotte, VT) - 69 laps
Complete results available at www.IMSA.com.