No. 48 Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Team survives grueling temperatures and a late hit to make it to the finish
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 7, 2013) – Paul Miller Racing, and team drivers Bryce Miller and Marco Holzer, survived a day of high heat and a race of hard knocks Saturday at Lime Rock Park for a seventh-place finish in the No. 48 Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in front of a contingent of more than 200 corporate guests, sponsors, employees, friends and family members at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix.
Bryce Miller started the No. 48 from 10th on the grid and quickly worked his way through the field in the race’s opening laps. He was in sixth place by the end of the first lap, fifth by lap three and then moved the Chopard/TOTAL Porsche into a race-high fourth place by lap 10.
“I got a really good start and, from the beginning, our Michelin tires and the support that we have there was just dead on,” Miller said. “We just had a really good balance in those opening laps, even when the tires hadn’t come up to target yet. Having that balance at that stage was really the key to being able to make those maneuvers.”
“We were really pleased and excited about the progress we were making through the field and actually surprised to get up as high as we did,” Team Owner Paul Miller said. “Unfortunately, our setup wouldn’t let us sustain the kind of pace we needed over the long runs. But we made some good stops, we tried some interesting jinks and jukes in the strategy, gave it our best shot, and raced it to the finish for the sponsors and supporters we had here today.”
Holzer took over from Miller just over an hour into the timed 2-3/4-hour race. The factory works Porsche driver also managed to race the No. 48 into fourth before the performance again fell off in the long run.
“Overall, the race was difficult for us,” Holzer said. “We had a good pace for one lap but then the drop off was a little bit too much. We will have to analyze all of the data.”
Dropping to ninth with Holzer battling the car late in the race, the Paul Miller Racing crew decided to pit for new Michelins with just over 30 minutes remaining. The strategy move might have paid off but a pair of caution periods in the final 15 minutes never allowed Holzer to make a move to the front.
Even worse, the second and final caution started when a Ferrari GT entry sideswiped the Chopard/TOTAL Porsche before crashing and taking a GTC class Porsche out too in the incident.
“I would say that was a really strange move because I was on the inside and felt a big hit and then there was this car just flying by me,” Holzer said. “I don’t know what went wrong. I will have to see the TV pictures.”
The No. 48 sustained a broken right rear suspension in the Ferrari hit-and-run but the Paul Miller Racing crew quickly got Holzer back on track for the checkered flag.
“We had a decent long-run car but we didn’t have what we needed to really advance,” Bryce Miller said. “So we decided to do the stop late, get the new tires on for Marco but then the yellows really robbed us of an opportunity to attack. The ideal situation would have been if it would have stayed green because we were gaining about a second a lap on the three guys in front of us before the caution. There was a potential P5 there for sure.”
The Northeast Grand Prix weekend was run in grueling heat and high humidity with afternoon temperatures never dropping below 90 degrees.
“I think it was really tough today,” Holzer said. “One of the hardest races I have had I would say from the temperature.”
Next up for Paul Miller Racing and the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport, July 20 – 21.
Paul Miller Racing