TRG Title-Hopes Dashed in Utah; Finishes Third in Championship TOOELE, Utah (September 15, 2007) -- Team TRG fell short of a third consecutive GT-Class Championship when the Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve...
TRG Title-Hopes Dashed in Utah; Finishes Third in Championship
TOOELE, Utah (September 15, 2007) -- Team TRG fell short of a third consecutive GT-Class Championship when the Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve contested the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on Saturday.
On the strength of five GT-class victories in 2007,TRG was tied--dead even for the Team Championship and.teammates RJ Valentine and Andy Lally entered the season finale a mere five points out of the lead for the Drivers Championship with sights firmly set on a championship 'three-peat' for the northern California-based team.
Valentine and Lally teamed with TRG favorite Spencer Pumpelly for the 139-lap enduro on Miller's demanding 4.5-mile, 24-turn road course. Driving the TRG No. 66 CRG/ Maxter Porsche GT3, the trio was poised to claim a sixth series win and the resulting Driver and Team points' titles.
Having qualified 20th Valentine drove a flawless first stint, taking advantage of an early full-course caution to turn the controls of the No. 66 over to Lally. In typical 'pac-man' form, Lally gobbled up the majority of the GT-class field and was on the heels of the top five leaders. As the car entered the back section of the track, the normally bullet-proof Porsche misfired and immediately suffered a race-ending catastrophic engine failure. Just that quickly, all hopes for a championship were dashed as the No. 66 would end up finishing the race in 23rd position.
"It didn't end on a great note, but it was still a good season," said a disappointed Lally. "This is the fourth straight year we came down to the final race for the GT-class championship. I had no indication anything was wrong. The engine ran great until three seconds before it exploded. There was no alarm light, no nothing. One second it was absolutely golden, then there was a misfire and then it just seized up, locked the rear wheels and that was it."
Holding the TRG flag high at Miller was the No. 64 JLowe Racing/SRS Porsche GT3 with drivers Jim Lowe, Jim Pace and John Potter.
"The JLowe No. 64 car definitely wins our shining star award of the day," said TRG team owner Kevin Buckler. "They ran a wonderful race as all three drivers performed extremely well to bring home the No. 64 in a strong 12th-place and totally unscathed."
The No. 65 Maxwell Paper Products Porsche GT3 driven by teammates Ross Smith, Marco DiLeo and Bryan Sellers was having a strong outing as well, posting lap times equal to the leaders when their motor also blew-up unexpectedly to finish in 21st spot.
"It was definitely a tough day for TRG," said Buckler. "Our entire team, drivers and crew alike, had really prepared well for this race with exceptional practice, training and new equipment -- so it's a tough pill to swallow to have engine failures in two of our four cars. But you have to take the good with the bad, that's what racing's all about."
The No. 67 Wolf-tec.com/WTI/wtiinc.com Porsche GT3 of Peter Ludwig, Quentin Wahl and John Mayes had a terrific race right to the end when they lost a transmission cooler and the car was forced to retire from the race about 20-minutes before the checkered flag fell. They would be credited with a 17th-place finish.
"These races are tough," added Buckler. "Tough on equipment and tough on the guys, so it's not unexpected to have these mechanical issues. But we're very proud of our accomplishments this season and we leave here with our heads high and our shoulders back. We'll immediately start preparing for the 2008 season and another strong run for the driver and team championships."
"A big congratulations goes out to the Farnbacher-Loles team for taking the championship. They raced us hard and clean all year and they deserve it."