Burtin Racing Quickest of 911s in GRAND-AM Qualifying
Watkins Glen, N.Y., June 30 – Endurance racing equals Porsche in many people’s minds and seven entries, the most entered by any manufacturer for the July 1 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, promises to help solidify that. The Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International race has become a cornerstone event on the sports car racing schedule and victories here go down in racing history. A major player in the annals of the event, Porsche is the defending race marque with its 911 GT3 Cup car.
Live, flag-to-flag coverage of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen can be seen beginning at 11 a.m. (ET), Sunday, July 1 on SPEED. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will provide radio coverage on select stations and at www.GRAND-AM.com. Live timing and scoring of all on-track sessions can also be found at the GRAND-AM web site.
Fastest of the Porsches entered for round eight of the 2012 GRAND-AM season was the No. 17 Burtin Racing with Goldcrest Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup driven by Claudio Burtin of Cartersville, Ga. and Martin Ragginger from Austria. Though this is only the team’s second race of the year, Ragginger was able to turn a lap of one-minute, 51.718-second around the 3.4-mile, 17-turn Watkins Glen “Long Course” to set the pace for the German automaker. The time, 0.924-seconds off the pole-winning lap of Jordan Taylor in the No. 75 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, was seventh quick in the GT class.
Narrowly missing the top Porsche spot was the No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of defending Series and Six-Hour champion Brumos Racing. Andrew Davis (Bogart, Ga.), who will share the Jacksonville, Fla.-based entry with Charleston, S.C.-resident Leh Keen, set a best time of 1:51.930 on his third lap of qualifying. Davis, who will be making his 100th career GRAND-AM-sanctioned start tomorrow, was just over a second off the pace of the pole-sitter.
“The longer the race, the better for Porsche,” said Davis. “Qualifying didn’t go too much different than we anticipated. We had a great car this morning, we were the quickest Porsche all weekend, but it’s much hotter now. We haven’t quite got the balance for the hot weather. You really only get about two laps to hit it and I couldn’t get it. I was battling traffic after that. We still need to work hard to get the car ready for the race tomorrow but the Brumos guys have done a great job all season. Our race is going to be about tire management. This track is brutal on these tires. We just have to run our own race. We didn’t qualify that well here last year but we were still able to win.”
The No. 73 Horton Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup driven by Eric Foss (Dallas), Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Ryan Eversley (Winder, Ga.) missed two of the five practice sessions leading into qualifying. Lindsey would not let that hamper him in the 20-minute qualifying session. The white and red machine set the tenth-fastest time with a lap of 1:52.264.
Magnus Racing comes to “The Glen” as the leader of the inaugural North American Endurance Championship. The three-race championship (the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) within a championship will crown GRAND-AM’s premier endurance racing team. Magnus, winner of the season-opening Rolex 24, hopes to stretch its point lead with a strong finish in Sunday’s race from the 15th starting spot. Team owner/driver John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) qualified the No. 44 machine he will share with Andy Lally (Newport, N.Y.) and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Belleair, Fla.) at 1:53.22.
"It's a little disappointing to sit 15th, but not a very big concern,” philosophized Potter. “Qualifying today really showed strength from some other manufacturers, but for a six hour race we know we have the lineup to go the distance. Sitting mid-field isn't terribly desirable for the first few laps, but if we can avoid any mishaps we'll be in good shape for the race."
TRG brought a trio of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from its California shop for this weekend. Of the three, the No. 66 Porsche was the quickest in qualifying as Ben Keating of Victoria, Texas was given the nod to qualify the car he co-drives with Damien Faulkner (Ireland) and Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga.). Keating lapped the track at 1:53.358 to take his place 16th on the grid for tomorrow’s 11 a.m. start.
“We have been working very hard since Thursday to set the car up, and I’m excited about where we are,” offered Keating after his run. “Qualifying was the best it’s been all week and I’m looking forward to seeing what Damien (Faulkner) and Bryan (Sellers) can do with it. I’m not particularly happy with where I qualified but I think we will be consistent and very competitive tomorrow. Six hours is a long time.”
Just behind the No. 66 was the first of its two sister cars, the No. 67 TRG Porsche of Al Carter (Greenville, DE), Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta) and Porsche “works” driver Wolf Henzler (Germany). Carter qualified the Adobe Road Winery entry at 1:53.678, good for 17th. Making the lap more impressive is that Carter was recruited to drive for TRG only this week after regular driver Steven Bertheau (Aurora, Ill.) had a major accident at the most-recent GRAND-AM race at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisc.). While Bertheau had no serious injuries, he opted to sit out this race. He is expected to return for the July 27th Brickyard Grand Prix.
Eduardo Costabal (Columbia), Santiago Orjuela (Columbia) and Eliseo Salazar (Chile) are the all-South American driver lineup for the final TRG Porsche entered this weekend. Driving the No. 64 Porsche, Salazar qualified at a time of 1:54.718. The veteran Formula One, Indy car and sports car driver will start 20th in the 21-car field.