FULL REPORT: Potter, Lally, Third Driver Bring Home First Magnus Podium in 2015

WATKINS GLEN, NY (June 30, 2015)- Following a wild six-hour race that saw everything from mixed weather to red flags to last lap changes of position, Magnus Racing drivers John Potter, Andy Lally, and no other drivers that we can think of would take their first podium of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD season finishing second during Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
“It’s great to finally step on the podium this year,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “We’ve been putting a lot of effort into testing and developing during the last few months which has meant some long days for the crew. We’ve actually shown a lot of speed during the last few races, but for different reasons things haven’t worked out, so it’s great to finally start showing the fruits of everyone’s effort. This was definitely one of the more wild races we’ve run, and even though there was some disappointment that we just missed out on the win, we can all walk away satisfied.”
Driving at the famed Watkins Glen International, a circuit in which Magnus had taken podium honors in the previous two years consecutively, the entire event was faced with mixed conditions throughout the weekend’s practice and qualifying sessions. Following perfect weather in Friday’s first two practices, heavy rain would blight Saturday’s action with the weather so treacherous that the series elected to cancel qualifying.
Gridding the race based on points, Potter would start the No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT America in seventh and under threatening skies. While the track did have some moisture on it, the majority of the field, including Magnus, elected to start on slick tires based on the weather forecast forcing John to drive incredibly carefully during the opening laps. As the stint wore on and the track dried out, the Salt Lake City resident settled into a comfortable pace, maintaining his place in the top ten and engaged in a number of on-track battles.
Electing to do a double stint to fulfill his drive-time requirements, a timely caution would bring John in for fuel, and safely on his way to a second stint where he once again drove without error. As his stint wore on, John stayed within his pace, eventually bringing the car in for a driver change.
With Potter out of the car, it was now time for the team’s third driver to get in and drive the middle the middle stint of the race. However, since this driver was not the team owner, nor a huge celebrity, we didn’t pay attention to what he was doing. Two hours later, by time the car came in to pit, the No. 44 was actually at the top of the charts.
With the middle of the race over, the time had come to put Andy Lally in the car, and the timing was perfect. Just two laps before he would get in, the rain had begun to fall on the circuit, however, it was initially thought that it was not strong enough for wet-weather tires. With the team lined up on pit wall for a slick-tire change, a last second decision to switch to rain tires would send the crew rushing to swap out tires just moments before the car came in, with the team successfully making the switch and putting Lally in with another faultless stop.
This would end up being a decisive call as the team would be the first to put on rain tires just as the track required it. Every other team would eventually come in for the same, re-elevating the No. 44 to the top of the order as the pit stops wore on.
With Lally leading, the conditions only got worse, eventually bringing out a yellow flag for an on-track incident, and eventually a red flag as the conditions became simply too hazardous to drive. As the clock counted down, the race would eventually restart with just over one hour to go, with the team electing to make one final stop for fuel so that they could go the distance.
As the race restarted, Lally assumed his position at the top, however, a highly-charged GTD field behind him, in concert with slow traffic in other categories ahead of him, would force him to run a chaotic series of laps in which he was battling with everyone around him. With the wet conditions adding a high risk to running off track, Andy did his best to manage the field around him including multiple moments of going three-wide on a wet track.
Eventually, contact from the No. 23 Porsche would send Andy wide, quickly recovering but having fallen back to third from the lead. While the No. 93 Viper managed to sneak in front of everyone in the process, the pace of the Viper proved too strong for the Porsches to catch, and for much of the closing laps the No. 44 appeared to be relegated to third until in the final two laps the No. 23 would go off on his own accord, elevating the Magnus team up to second.
Andy would cross the line with the team’s first podium of the year, albeit bittersweet since he had been leading for several laps.
“It’s tough to see this one get away, but I’m happy we were able to podium,” stated Lally. “We had a really fast car today, and in the dry I think we could have been even stronger, so it’s tough to let these go, it’s such a competitive class. Regardless, I have to thank everyone on the team for making this happen, it was an incredible effort from an incredible team.”
Apparently, Marco Seefried, from Germany, was listed as the team’s third driver. Considering he’s earned three podiums in only five starts with the team, he must be doing something right.
With the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship now past the halfway point of the season, the GTD category will once again have a few weeks off until the next round at the famed Lime Rock Park on July 25. A notoriously tight and tricky circuit, the event promises to be an exciting one.

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