TRG Seeks to Three-peat at Mexico City and Extend Record Podium Streak to 25
Petaluma, Ca. - TRG, 2006 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Triple Champions, return to the site of back-to-back wins and one of the most exciting championship finishes in sportscar history at Mexico City on March 1-3. The team brings a 24-race podium streak to the Mexican capital, and will look to make it three wins in three years at the urban Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez. In 2005, Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards victory aboard the #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R was overshadowed by the famous "Flying Porsche" incident that cost TRG drivers Andy Lally and Marc Bunting that year's driving championship. TRG rebounded well in 2006, however, taking a 1-3 finish in Mexico en route to sweeping the drivers, team and manufacturer championships in the GT class.
TRG #66 Three-time Grand-Am driving champion Andy Lally, who will partner R.J. Valentine for the full season in the #66 CRG Karts/TRG Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, reminisced about his tribulations at Mexico City. "This year, I'm ready to win at Mexico," he said. "In 2005, obviously it was a heartbreaker to lose the championship in the way that we did, but I've almost forgotten about that given all the success we've had since then. Almost. We're riding a pretty incredible podium streak right now, but I'm hungry to win one here. I'm excited to be driving with R.J. for the season - he's the consummate teammate and a great friend as well, and I suspect we'll have good results all year long." Also driving for TRG will be #67 drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Scott Schroeder. Scott was a standout in the formula BMW program last year and is currently a full time TRG driver in the Koni Challenge series in one of the new TRG Porsches.
One of the unique aspects of the track in Mexico City is its extreme altitude. The basin that contains the megalopolis of Mexico City sits at over 7300 feet, which requires performance adaptation for both man and machine. All the cars in the field will feel the elevation in a lower power output from the engine, and ill-prepared drivers may find themselves out of breath, or worse, due to the relative lack of oxygen. For TRG driver R.J. Valentine, physical preparation doesn't figure to be a problem, however. At 61, Valentine is robustly fit, due to a rigorous cycling and weightlifting regimen he's used to keep himself in top shape long after most drivers call it quits. Cycling more than 100 miles per week near sea-level at his Boston-area home might not seem the best preparation for a high-altitude race, but R.J. has another tool at his disposal: a hyperbaric chamber. Used by elite athletes as varied as Tour de France cyclists and NFL football players, hyperbaric chambers mimic the effect of high altitude while an athlete rests, preparing the body to process oxygen more efficiently. Valentine said, "When I first got my hyperbaric tent at home, my friends thought I was crazy. I swear by it, though - it helps me recover from exercise and it'll give me an advantage at Mexico. When everyone else is feeling the effects of the altitude, I'll be going strong!"
Coming off of a 3rd-place finish at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, TRG team owner Kevin Buckler is optimistic for the 2nd round of the year, as well as the chase for the championships. "Our friends at JLowe Racing did the team proud at Daytona - we extended our podium streak and had a great race there. We're of course excited to get back to Mexico City, where we're ready to fight with the rest of the field at a pretty challenging and spectacular venue. R.J. and Andy will do well and I am very excited to have Scott Schroeder making his GT debut here with us. I have watched Scott mature over the last few years and he is really a talent. I predict that he will turn a few heads this weekend and he and Spencer will definitely be a strong combo. In the space of three years, this event has gone from one that most of the competitors had a lot of trepidation about, to one of the favorites on the calendar. For TRG, we want to three-peat, extend our podium streak and put down some points towards this year's championship. Our crew has been working their tails off getting the cars prepared, and I feel we'll be strong right off the transporter on Thursday."