Road Atlanta: The Racer's Group race report

TRG: Both Cars in Top Ten at Petit Le Mans Braselton, GA -- September 25, 2004 - The two car team of The Racer's Group finished today's Petit Le Mans 7-9, with the ...

TRG: Both Cars in Top Ten at Petit Le Mans

Braselton, GA -- September 25, 2004 - The two car team of The Racer's Group finished today's Petit Le Mans 7-9, with the #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable Porsche of Patrick Long, Cort Wagner and Mike Rockenfeller bringing home the team's top result. The #66 car was solidly in 5th place near the end of the race, but a spin into the gravel trap under heavy braking in turn 10a cost the team two laps and two grid positions in the GT class.

TRG endured a string of untimely yellow flags, which ultimately cost the #66 car several race laps, the first coming just 15 minutes into the race. A massive wreck involving a GT-class Porsche and an LM P1 car brought out the first full-course caution of the race, and allowed the GT leader to gain a lap on the rest of the field. The #66 car had three such incidents, and lost a total of five laps to the GT leader as a result of caution flags; the #67 car benefited twice from the same cautions.

Cort Wagner, who drove two stints in the #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable Porsche summed up his race. "My first stint wasn't fun," he said. "I had no water and my cool suit malfunctioned, so I just cooked in the car. It was a good solid stint though, and I was happy to turn it over to Patrick. My second stint was great; I was able to reel in and pass the #31 car and keep the Flying Lizard car behind me. TRG did an astounding job of giving us a mechanically perfect car -- we demonstrated our speed and ability to run up front all day long."

Wagner's co-driver Mike Rockenfeller, driving his first race with TRG, said: "I was able to drive consistently fast lap times all day long, which was excellent. We were just unlucky the whole day with flags -- our performance was good. In my last stint I was able to match the times of the Ferrari and the two AJR Porsches. It's disappointing that we lost five laps to yellow flags, especially losing the first lap 15 minutes into the race! TRG prepared us a great car, though, and I enjoyed driving with Cort and Patrick."

Patrick Long, who made his American sports car debut one year ago when he drove with Wagner and team owner Kevin Buckler, said: "I had a great first couple of stints, and had a lot of fun racing. Collectively we had a very solid, consistent run, and we put on a good show for New Century and Monster's guests, which was important. I'm disappointed about our luck with flags, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes."

The #67 Flamingo Resort/TRG Porsche of Pierre Ehret, Philip Collin and Robert Nearn finished in 9th position, after a steady race, which saw flawless driving from all three. The trio benefited twice from caution flags, as the pace car granted the team a wave-by each time, allowing the car to gain a lap on the field.

Pierre Ehret said, "The car was good all day long, but as I drove at dusk it became very hard for me to see -- there was a bunch of oil sprayed on my windscreen from a car ahead of me, and driving with the sun at a low angle made it tough for me. I was able to drive without any major drama all day long, which makes for a satisfying result. Philip and Robert were a pleasure to drive with."

Robert Nearn, who raced earlier this season in a TRG Porsche at the 24 Hours of Daytona, said: "I feel we did very well. We had no problems whatsoever, and TRG puts together a flawless race effort. It gives a driver a lot of confidence to know that the car is so good. I love to drive at night, and it's great to finish a race that's this competitive and tough."

Philip Collin, who has driven twice this year with TRG in America after running the full LMES season in Europe, said: "I've got nothing but good things to say about my co-drivers, the car, and TRG. I'm pumped about our performance -- TRG gave us a car that we were able to drive consistently. It was a thrill to drive these two races with Kevin's team, and it was great to race in my home country again! It's gratifying to me that just about every car that finished ahead of us has a factory or world-class driver, and it's a testament to the competition in this series."

Team owner Kevin Buckler had mixed feelings about the race. "In typical TRG fashion," he said, "our crew prepared cars that were mechanically perfect, and we ran a nearly flawless race. Our team chemistry is fantastic, and it allows us to really step forward our program. The guys in the #67 car drove a brilliant race all the way through, and the #66 car just got bit by the flags. Every other time we pitted, a caution flag flew within seconds! I've never seen anything like it in racing, but I'm very proud of our guys for sticking it out and finishing the race. Our crew and our drivers did a great job."

The 2004 American Le Mans Series has its final race October 16th, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, CA. The race will be broadcast on NBC.


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Robert Nearn , Mike Rockenfeller , Cort Wagner