TRG Porsche Takes Rolex Grand-Am GT Title at Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen, NY – August 14 -- Spencer Pumpelly and Steven Bertheau managed to coax just enough fuel out of TRG's No. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to take the GT victory in a thrilling finish at the Canadian Tire 200 at Watkins Glen – the most recent round of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Pumpelly led the final six circuits as the lead changed hands five times in the final hour, taking the checkered flag 2.12 seconds ahead of Taylor. Craig Stanton and John Potter took third in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Bill Lester and Jordan Taylor regained the lead in the production-based GT championship standings with a second place finish in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Andrew Davis and Leh Keen entered the race with a one-point lead, but finished seventh in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and are now seven points behind (272-265) as they had to stop late in the race for fuel while leading the event.
Here are the revised GT points: Jordan Taylor/Bill Lester (Camaro) 272, Leh Keen/Andrew Davis (Porsche) 265, Jonathan Bomarito/Sylvain Tremblay (Mazda) 257.
Starting from the 18th position, the winningTRG Porsche GT3 Cup car piloted by Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly secured one of the Series’ most dramatic GT wins of the season. With a qualifying session cut short due to on-track incidents and limited practice time, the team battled several obstacles to claim victory in the fastest paced Grand-Am race of all time.
Bertheau, winnner at the Daytona 24 earlier this year, was only able to get one flyer in during qualifying but managed to put down one of his best laps of the weekend.
“We knew we had some work to do on this one,” said TRG team owner/CEO Kevin Buckler.
"We didn’t qualify as well as we had wanted, and definitely had our hands full with an ill-handling 66 team car, so we managed the strategy to death and knew we had a real shot early on with 67. If there’s a group of guys who can overcome adversity and get the job done at the end of the day, it’s our guys, and I am really proud of them today,” said Buckler.
The team seized the opportunity of a caution early to get all of its pit stop duties out of the way for the No. 67. This strategy paid dividends in the end. Bertheau nailed his performance and handed the car off to Pumpelly, the seasoned veteran. Pumpelly put on an outstanding drive, moving into the lead in the last 10 minutes then masterfully saved fuel to bring it home to the checker for his third professional sportscar win in a row.
“Strategy, a great crew and a fantastic co-driver, that’s what makes you win," said Bertheau. "Kevin and Greg [Jones] were managing our time and fuel strategy from the drop of the green.”
The race was a fuel mileage game for other competitors as well, and it worked out nearly to perfection for John Potter and Craig Stanton as the two drove the no. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to a third place finish in the two-hour race.
Starting from ninth place in the twenty-two car GT field, Potter was called into the pits during an early full-course caution to take fuel. The race restarted with Potter in 12th position, and throughout the next hour he advanced the Magnus Racing Porsche up through the field to the second position. Just past the one hour mark, Potter turned the car over to Stanton, who came out of the pits in 11th place - but with enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag.
Withstanding pressure from the no. 70 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito, Stanton would take the checkered flag in third place, taking the second Rolex Series podium of the season for Magnus Racing. At the line, Stanton was a scant 12 seconds behind the winning no. 67 TRG Porsche and 10 seconds behind the runner-up no. 88 Autohaus Camaro.
In the Daytona Prototype class, Porsche factory driver Joerg Bergmeister, who has a Rolex Grand-Am DP championship to his name (2006), the pole for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in his lone Rolex Series appearance this season, and a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, taking the overall victory with TRG in 2003 and taking GT honors for that team in 2002 and 2009, joined the Porsche Riley team entered by Starworks Racing with Enzo Potolicchio.
With the only six cylinder engine in the DP field, Bergmeister/Potolicco finished 11th overall, five laps down from the leaders after suffering various mechanical ills.