Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Takes Top Two GT Spots at the Rolex 24 at Daytona; TRG and Paul Miller Racing Earn Podium Finishes for Porsche's 73rd Win
Daytona Beach, FL -- January 30 -- Driving the #67 2011 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, Andy Lally (USA), Wolf Henzler (Germany), Brendan Gaughan (USA), Spencer Pumpelly (USA) and Steve Bertheau (USA) have driven to a two lap GT victory in the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Enabling Porsche to capture its 73rd class win and 39th win for the Porsche 911-based sports cars at the Rolex 24, the Kevin Buckler-owned TRG team car took the lead for good during the 18th hour when the Dempsey Racing Mazda spun at turn #1 of the 3.56-mile circuit.
"Winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is always a great accomplishment, but the effort of our customer teams to achieve a victory as well as four of the top five GT positions speaks to their level of preparation for this challenging event. Congratulations to TRG, Paul Miller Racing, Magnus Racing, and Brumos Racing for their top five finishes with their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. And we are proud of our factory drivers -- Wolf Henzler, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, and Marco Holzer - who helped these teams to their result. And for the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Riley squad, they had the fastest car, put it on the pole, turned the fastest lap of the race, and would have been there at the end if not for some back luck -- Patrick Long, Joerg Bergmeister, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek showed what our Porsche 911-based engine can do in a Daytona Prototype," said Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America.
Andy Lally now has three Rolex 24 wins (2001, 2009, and 2011), while Wolf Henzler, the German Porsche factory driver, has two Rolex 24 victories (2005 and 2011). Spencer Pumpelly has two victories as well (with he and Andy Lally both winning for TRG in 2009). For NASCAR truck entrant Brendan Gaughan and Steve Bertheau, it is their first Rolex 24 win. TRG Porsches have wins in 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2011, with the 2003 victory being overall (one of only two times a GT car has won overall).
"We didn't have a clutch for the last 17 hours and you can't make any mistakes without a clutch, especially leaving the pits. If you spin out, you have to be towed back and lose three or four laps and you might as well pack it in at that point and go home. I suppose it was a learning process the first few times as everyone on the team had to shift with no clutch. Being disqualified from the pole position was disappointing because he wanted the team prestige of qualifying with that honor. But it lit a fire under me and I drive better angry," said Lally.
Second place in GT went to the #48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, driven by Bryan Sellers, Rob Bell, Bryce Miller and Tim Sugden. Paul Miller, a Porsche dealer in Parsippany, NJ, and a race driver who ran the Rolex 24 in the 1980s, entered a car last year, but it was involved in an accident and did not finish. Son Bryce co-drove with Dirk Werner for most of the 2007 Grand-Am season, winning six Rolex Grand-Am GT races and helping Werner to the GT championship.
"The biggest challenge we faced was to perform as well as the car. Our crew is top notch and that they put together an amazing vehicle, so the drivers had to live up to their efforts on the track," said Bryce Miller.
Fourth was the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, brought home by Craig Stanton, John Potter, Richard Lietz, and Marco Holzer, while the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Hurley Haywood, Marc Lieb, Leh Keen and Andrew Davis finished fifth. The Brumos Porsche led the race several times, and would have been in the top three at the end if it hasn't been for a broken radiator during the night.
At 5:00 am Eastern time on Sunday, or lap 426 of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there was a routine yellow flag for a GT car that hit the tire wall, and then the fog rolled in. It came over the west end of the Speedway, covering NASCAR turns one and two, and within a couple of minutes, engulfed the entire 3.56-mile circuit, preventing the race officials from seeing the track and the corner workers from seeing from turn-to-turn.
The field of cars were forced run in line without any passing allowed for almost three hours, freezing the standings while everyone waited for the sun to rise and burn off the fog. The field finally got the green flag just before 8:00 AM EST -- with Porsche teams occupying four of the top five positions in GT.
The Flying Lizard Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype, which sat on the pole and led the first 52 minutes of the race, lost 18 laps to the field after an off-road excursion. Finally, with about 90 minutes left in the race, an oil fitting broke, causing a fire in the engine compartment. The engine is in perfect shape, and could have gone back out with a new fitting and an oil refill if the fire hadn't caused other damage. The team, which had the pole and turned the fastest lap of the event (Joerg Bergmeister), the fastest lap today (Johannes van Overbeek), and the fastest lap at night (Patrick Long) was plagued by a flat tire at the seven-hour mark, and then had another long stop to change and bleed the brakes.
-source: porsche motorsport