Party Barge on the Podium as Potter and Stanton finish third in Mid-Ohio
August 7, 2011 (Salt Lake City, Utah) - At Sebring, when Magnus Racing's no. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup earned the nickname 'Party Barge', the team didn't expect that it might literally have to fulfill the duties of a barge the first time that it encountered rain.
The rain that fell at Mid-Ohio during the final hour of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge started as a light fall but intensified so much that the ALMS twitter account reported a sighting of animals traveling in pairs on the racing surface. After a strong opening stint from John Potter, where he started fourth and pressured the no. 54 Black Swan Porsche for third, Craig Stanton took over the wheel of the Magnus Racing Porsche during the first round of pitstops that came just before the end of the first hour.
Re-emerging from the pits in sixth place, Stanton battled with the no. 11 JDX Porsche for several laps before a full course caution came out for one of several LMP Challenge cars that went off course throughout the day. While that in and of itself wasn't very remarkable, the subsequent DNF of the pace car on the front straightaway created an extended caution period which played well into the strategy of the Magnus Racing Porsche.
After the restart, Stanton was able to pass the JDX Porsche for fifth while the leading no. 68 TRG and no. 23 AJR Porsches were penalized for an illegal wave-by procedure during the caution and the no. 54 Black Swan made an unexpected pit stop. All of a sudden, Stanton was 2nd in GT-C and the race appeared to be coming back to the team - and then the rain began to fall and the yellow flags flew again for another stranded LMP Challenge car.
The caution erased the gap between Stanton and the leading no. 66 TRG Porsche. He did not have much of a chance to capitalize, however, as the yellows flew again for a GT crash that happened before the start finish line. On the next restart, Stanton dove to the inside of the TRG Porsche in the Keyhole, but spun on the exit, dropping him to third in class. Two laps later, the yellows flew again, and the race ended under red flag conditions with so much standing water on the track - meaning Potter and Stanton finished 3rd again for the second time in GT-C this season.
"Well, considering how wild and unpredictable the race was, we're pretty happy to get on the podium," said Potter, who drove the first hour in the Party Barge. "Last time we were here we were punted out of the race after 10 minutes by a prototype, so this was much better. We were competitive and had speed throughout each of our stints. The spin at the end was a shame, especially since the red flag meant we didn't have any chance to make up the lost position, but the conditions looked terrible at the end. I'm glad it wasn't me in the car that last hour!"
"I was close enough to make a move into the keyhole, because Spence ran the wide line," said Stanton, who began his Mid-Ohio weekend by riding his bicycle around the circuit for two hours. "I thought there might be enough grip on the inside line to get alongside and be on the right side of the track down the back straightaway, but I just couldn't keep the back of the car under me when I went back to power. We were here to go for the win, and I just had to go for it. We were that close to what was the fastest car all day in GT-C which shows just how hard our guys are working and how good the Magnus Racing Porsche was."