LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 6, 2013) – Patrick Dempsey, Andy Lally and Dempsey Del Piero Racing endured their toughest race of the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season Saturday at Lime Rock Park where early contact and gearbox issues and a mid-race penalty put the No. 27 Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT3 Cup several laps down and in seventh place at the finish of the Northeast Grand Prix.
Dempsey started the No. 27 in fourth after Lally’s Friday qualifying effort and soon encountered a balky third gear in the opening minutes of the timed 2-3/4-hour race. The stricken Porsche fell through the running order and the team’s day further unraveled when Dempsey was hit by a P2 car and forced to pit with a flat tire just 30 minutes into the race.
“The crew guys worked really, really hard today,” Dempsey said. “Despite all of our challenges, we came out of this and closed the delta to the championship, which is what we need to do, but did in a bizarre way. Unfortunately, we lost third gear right around lap two or three and I had to deal with that through most of my stint.”
“It’s a real testament to how hard the crew has worked after the incident in the morning warm-up,” Dempsey said. “Even the gearbox issue in the race was good in a way because I learned a lot, I learned how to deal with a gearbox that was going away, I was able to stay out of trouble and managed the traffic very well. We are coming out of here ready for Mosport.”
Lally took over from Dempsey for the race’s final 85 minutes during the team’s second pit stop and soon encountered his own issues. Race officials determined Lally drove through the pit exit red light without stopping when he was rejoining the race and the No. 27 was assessed a 60-second stop-and-hold penalty. That put the team several more laps down in the running order and from there it was just a run to the finish to get as many points as possible.
“I caught the light right as I was leaving the pits and I was committed,” Lally said. “I didn’t think it would be red because I didn’t think we were anywhere near getting lapped by the pace car. The stop wasn’t that bad but this was just one of those days and that was part of it. You just have to deal with it and do the best that you can. We actually persevered and may have even gained a point or two in the last 15 minutes of the race.”
The No. 27’s gearbox continued to decline during Lally’s run to the checkered flag.
“I just drove the whole track in fourth and fifth gear,” Lally said. “We normally go through the chicane in second and I had to take it in fourth. It is the steepest hill and the slowest corner and I literally would go up the hill and lose a second and a half every lap to the leader’s pace.”
The Northeast Grand Prix weekend was run in excruciating heat and high humidity with afternoon temperatures never below 90 degrees.
“It was very hot today,” Dempsey said. “You needed to call on all of your focus and fitness training to make it through this one, very challenging.”
Next up for Dempsey Del Piero Racing and the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport, July 20 – 21.
Dempsey Del Piero Racing