Watkins Glen. Magnus Racing used a third place finish at today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to stretch its lead in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class from two to six points.
The No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car driven by Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.), John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz (Austria) moved onto the podium on the final lap of the six hour endurance race at Watkins Glen International in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Magnus Racing is yet to win a race in 2013. However, consistently strong finishes have kept the team on or near the podium all season and at the top of the team and driver standings. That consistency was needed when an extended yellow flag in the race’s second hour forced the team to make an “emergency” stop for fuel when the pits were closed.
Allowed to receive only five seconds of gasoline, Lally had to make another stop when the pit lane was opened for all GT competitors. The team utilized that second stop to put Porsche works driver and 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Pro class winner Lietz in to rest Lally for the closing laps.
Lietz was able to move the No. 44 back into the top-three handing the car back to Lally for the final hour. As teams jockeyed for position and made late race stops to ensure they saw the finish, Magnus made its final stop for fuel and tires with 36 minutes remaining and was able to overtake third place on the white flag lap to capture the podium.
The No. 44 now leads today’s race winner, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, 199 points to 193 in the team championship. The No. 69 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 also has 193 markers but has less wins that Stevenson.
"What a finish! We actually had a crazy last lap to get on the podium, but I'm glad I was able to deliver for everyone at Flex-Box and on the team,” celebrated Lally after the race. “It was a tough fight all day, but we really pushed hard to keep Porsche up top. This was a true team effort, there wasn't a pit stop all day where we didn't gain several positions."
Lietz, who won the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Magnus, followed his teammate’s thoughts: "Third was a very good finish for us today. It was my first visit to the circuit and I'm very happy to go home with another trophy. It's very tough for Porsche right now in this series but Magnus does a very good job to maximize results, so it was a good day. I look forward to working with them again."
Confusion caused by a “wave-by” – a procedure that helps group classes of cars under caution periods – would hurt Park Place Motorsports’ day. The team of Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga.) ran in the top three with both Long and Sellers behind the wheel.
However, the team was penalized for passing the safety car under the caution, costing them two laps. The first year team was able to gain back a lap but not the second. They now sit eighth in the team championship after seven of 12 rounds.
Making only its second start of the season, the No. 80 TruSpeed Porsche of Kelly Collins (Newport Beach, Calif.), Tom Haacker (Santa Ana, Calif.) and D. Bryce Miller (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) finished 12th in class. 15th in class went to the No. 18 Muelhner Motorsports America of Chilean drivers Edurado Costabal and Eliseo Salazar who were joined by young Colin Thompson (DeLand, Fla.) in his first Rolex Series race.
Closing the finishing order was the No. 62 Snow Racing with Wright Motorsports of Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.), Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah) and Jan Heylen (Belgium) in 16th.
The next round of the 2013 Rolex Series season comes at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26th. The Brickyard Grand Prix will be the final race of the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC).
The championship within a championship crowns the most consistent top performer in GRAND-AM races three hours or longer. Magnus Racing won the inaugural NAEC in 2012 with a victory on the Indy road course.