- Published: Wednesday, 26 August 2015 01:09
ALTON, Virginia (August 25, 2015) – Despite repeatedly setting some of the quickest times in practice and looking like a strong contender for Sunday’s TUDOR United Sports Car Championship race, a series of tire and mechanical woes would end the Oak Tree Grand Prix early for Magnus Racing. Despite the race retirement, the team would still be credited with ninth in the GTD category.
“It’s disappointing to end another race early, but we feel as though we did it for the right reasons,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “At a certain point you just have to look at the merit of running vs. the risk, and in our case it unfortunately made sense to retire the car and look deeper into what was going on. It’s frustrating because we’ve all been working hard on this season and we know the quality of what we have, we just couldn’t find the luck we needed.”
Taking starting duties in the No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT America, John Potter would take the green flag in seventh, with all eyes focused on the field in front of him. Knowing how strong the car had been, it was up to the Salt Lake City resident to manage his car carefully, doing an excellent job of maintaining a pace with the lead pack without putting the car in unnecessary risk.
As the laps continued, John had managed to move the car up to fifth with only two laps to go before pitting for teammate Andy Lally, when a sudden tire deflation through the tricky uphill esses would send the Porsche understeering wide past a right-hand turn and in to the grass, with Potter doing an excellent job to keep the car from contacting anything. He would manage to recover without significant damage, however, he would need to limp to the pits given the issue with his tire.
Upon further analysis from the team, the data did show a sudden loss of tire pressure on the left front, illustrating Potter’s quick thinking to get himself out of trouble once the incident began.
“When I went into the right hander on the esses, all of a sudden I saw the wall coming at me,” continued Potter. “I thought to myself, ‘I’ve seen this before,’ and jumped on the gas to get the car to turn around… luckily it worked perfectly. It was frustrating to have that kind of surprise, but I’m glad I was able to keep it from being anything more serious.”
Following a quick stop to evaluate damage and replace the tire, all signs were that the car was fine, their only real penalty being time lost from the spin and time in the pits. One lap later when Potter would eclipse the required minimum drive time, John would pit in favor of teammate Andy Lally.
With Lally in the car, all focus was on trying to get the car back on the lead lap and back on strategy, chasing down the race leaders as the laps went on. Unfortunately, just 13 laps later, a similar fate would hit Andy with another tire going down.
The crew would once again replace the tire, and after evaluating the car went back to action. Unfortunately, as the laps went on Lally felt a nagging vibration, with the team eventually pitting him again to examine the whole car.
Eventually, with the team effectively out of championship contention and with no way of winning the race, the decision was made to retire in the interest of safety.
“It’s disappointing for all of us,” stated Andy Lally. “This was another one of those weekends where we had the car to win, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s so disappointing for this team, because we have all the pieces to win. At the end of the day I do agree it was the right choice, I don’t think of any of us wanted to write off the car, put ourselves at risk, or screw up another team’s championship.”
With nearly a month until the next round at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the team will have several weeks to make an extensive evaluation of the car. Practice for the Lone Star Le Mans will begin on Thursday, September 17, with the race action taking place on Saturday, September 19.