The Racers Group (TRG) press release
TRG Captures Victory on Late Pass at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, CA (September 18th, 2011) - The Racers Group (TRG) remained in the hunt for the American Le Mans Series GTC team championship with an inspiring end-of-race victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday as the team of Spencer Pumpelly, Duncan Ende and Peter Ludwig ran a near flawless race holding off a two-car challenge from class leader Black Swan Racing. They will enter the season finale at Petit Le Mans October 1, trailing Black Swan Racing by only seven points in the team championship.
Pumpelly, who was leading late in the six-hour endurance race, had to come in for fuel and tires with about 40 minutes remaining. He left the pits 45 seconds behind Black Swan's Jeroen Bleekemolen, but was gaining a few seconds a lap before a late caution came out. The restart came with less than 10 minutes to go in the race, and Pumpelly, thanks to the yellow, was within four seconds of the leader by the restart. With four laps remaining, he passed Bleekemoelen entering Turn 1 and was able to maintain the lead the rest of the way.
"We really needed that yellow," said Pumpelly. "The gap looked like it was going to be too much to overcome with that little time remaining, but the fresh tires really helped. And I can’t say enough about the race Duncan ran. Awesome. And Peter, too. Absolutely flawless."
The only problem the No. 66 STANDD/Racer's Roast/World Technology Ingredients/LiveOn.com 911 GT3 Cup Porsche seemed to have was a fuel pick-up failure on Ludwig's stint which caused an earlier pit than what was scheduled, creating the end of race situation for Pumpelly.
"Our guys handled every situation thrown at them today - it was incredible," said Buckler. "The guys in the No. 66 drove a near perfect race, while we in the No. 68 persevered all day after some tough luck early. I thought Duncan's drive today was without a doubt his best of the year. Peter was super solid and Spence closed the deal. Whata team!!! In the 68, Emilio drove for his first time at Laguna and in the race, he turned his fastest laps ever. Dion was as usual, a perfect teammate and was super fast. These Porsches ran great today and the guys on the crew did a marvelous job of having them ready for six tough hours of racing. We are really looking forward to making a run at the championship in Atlanta in two weeks."
Pumpelly started the race from the third position but quickly moved past the No. 34 Black Swan/Green Hornet's car to take second in the class. After a pit stop pushed the team back to fifth place, Ende, driving his best race of the year, worked his way back into the lead and held off a challenge from the re-emerging No. 34 Green Hornet before turning the car over to Ludwig, who re-entered the race in third place behind the two Black Swan entries. Ludwig moved into second when Black Swan No. 54 pitted, but could not keep ahead of the No. 34 Green Hornet that turned a very efficient stop. Ludwig however, over took the No. 34 within two laps before having to yield earlier than expected to Pumpelly due to the fuel issue.
TRG's No. 68 PR Newswire/South African Airways/Grupo SK 18/Solar Cargo entry driven by Dion von Moltke, Emilio Di Guida and team owner Kevin Buckler started the race strong with von Moltke behind the wheel and even held the class lead for awhile early in the race after initial pit stops. Di Guida was doing a good job after taking over for von Moltke, turning his fastest laps of the weekend during his first time at Laguna in a GT3 Porsche. Unfortunately he slipped into a gravel trap which put the car into a catch-up position much of the rest of the afternoon. Buckler and von Moltke, driving the final two stints, both put on tremendous drives, putting down fast consistent race laps and gaining back two positions before the end of the race to finish sixth.
The No. 68 car had a last minute gear box and transmission change after Saturday's morning practice, testing the crew's skill and expertise, but the car performed flawlessly the entire race.
TRG, which has won two Grand-Am championships, will be looking for its first ALMS title at Petit Le Mans. The 10-hour classic awards 30, 26, 23 and 20 points for the first four places in the annual finale, creating the opportunity for a championship with another strong showing.