MONTEREY, Calif. – Dempsey Del Piero Racing had its best weekend yet in just the team’s third race with its pair of Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT3s Saturday in the American Le Mans Monterey where team owner and lead driver Patrick Dempsey joined Andy Lally for the team’s first podium result and teammates Michael Avenatti and Andrew Davis finished a season-best sixth.
Shaking off some early race issues and penalties, Lally moved into the lead in the race’s final hour and appeared set for the win before the race’s final full-course caution period just 10 minutes from the finish. Lally found himself just in front of the second-place No. 30 Porsche of Nick Tandy, with only a Corvette GT car between the Porsche GT3s for what ended up being a one-lap dash to the finish when the green flag flew.
“It is nice, only my second race with Dempsey Del Piero and we have a pole and now we have a podium,” Lally said. “We have one more step to climb up to achieve our big goal here of winning a race in GTC and we came so close today.”
Lally won the pole in Dempsey Del Piero Racing’s ALMS GTC debut in March at Sebring and nearly gave the team its first victory today.
It was only his second race with Dempsey Del Piero after missing last month’s race in Long Beach while competing in the GRAND-AM Road Racing event at Road Atlanta. He was in the lead when the dual white and green flags flew for the race’s final lap.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Lally said. “I am bummed about it but Tandy got a run and somehow by got under the GT Corvette before we even got on to the front straight.
That put him on my rear bumper and he did a good job there. He made a move going into Turn 2, but I was able to come out with the lead there, but as we were going into Turn 4 I saw him pop to the inside.
This was the confusing part for me because I did not realize a prototype in my blind spot coming off of his right rear made it three wide.
As I turned in prepared to be two-wide with the 30, he backed out and the PC car came just barreling up the inside and it just punted me into the marbles. That moved me back to second and that was it, but I have to hand it to Tandy, he did a good job.”
Lally also had some high praise for his Dempsey Del Piero teammates.
“I also have to give two big thanks,” Lally said. “One to the team for keeping us in the race after going two laps down early and the other to Patrick who did what I think was the drive of his life.
He had great lap times, didn’t make a mistake, and did a great job to get it on the lead lap and then hand it to me. We put it in the lead and if we didn’t have that late yellow this thing was ours.”
Dempsey started the No. 27 from the third grid position only to encounter a bad vibration and a related stripped wheel nut issue for the second race in a row.
The Dempsey Del Piero avoided disaster and managed to fit a new wheel but by then the No. 27 was two laps down less than 15 minutes into the race. It set the stage for one of Dempsey’s best races to date.
“I think it is probably the best race I have ever driven to come back from two laps down,” Dempsey said. “We had the same problem we had at Long Beach.
We have to get that figured out, but we overcame that and battled back. I really worked hard, then Andy took over, he had his issues he had to deal with too, so it was all about really overcoming a boat-load of obstacles that were really out of our control.
Everybody stayed calm, the crew did a great job with the pit stops and that helped us get back on the lead lap. Andy led for a long time, it was unfortunate that yellow came out with 10 minutes left, but it was a great battle.”
The No. 10 Tully’s Coffee Porsche had its best performance so far after a pair of frustrating races to open the season. Davis even led several laps early in the race’s final hour before joining Avenatti for the duo’s sixth-place showing.
Avenatti also ran as high as fourth in his opening shift in the No. 10 despite being hit by another class competitor even before the green flag flew.
“It felt really good, especially in light of the fact that the car was a real handful at that point,” Avenatti said. “I was just happy to be able to keep on the lead lap and run up front there for a while.
The crew did a phenomenal job today, our hats are off to them, Andy drove a great race and second-place in this class is nothing to sneeze at.
I am very impressed, and I am very impressed with the drive my teammate Andrew put in today. We had some issues early on, and even got hit by a Flying Lizard car on the parade lap, but all in all it was a great race for Dempsey Del Piero Racing and I am very excited about the future.”
Dempsey, who has been in top-level sports cars for nearly a decade now, is also encouraged about the future.
“I am really excited about the team and I really feel we can win now,” Dempsey said. “It is the first time ever for me racing that I know that I can win a race.
To be out there running around with everybody today and coming back from the deficit we were in, there is no question that we can win races and a championship. That is the first time that I have felt that.”
Dempsey Del Piero Racing