Park Place Motorsports off to roaring start in Daytona 24H testing

No. 73 PPM/Racing4Research Porsche lays down fastest GT-class lap to cap highly successful three-day test for upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Park Place Motorsports off to roaring start in Daytona 24H testing

In its first public showing since the newly formed organization was announced in mid-December, Park Place Motorsports (PPM) left its mark in the biggest way possible at this weekend’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Roar Before the 24 test days on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road circuit.

#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3: Daniel Graeff, Jason Hart, Patrick Lindsey, Patrick Long, Spencer Pumpelly
#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3: Daniel Graeff, Jason Hart, Patrick Lindsey, Patrick Long, Spencer Pumpelly

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Veteran road racer and factory Porsche driver Patrick Long, who is co-piloting the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Racing4Research Porsche GT3 with Patrick Lindsey, Jason Hart, Spencer Pumpelly and Daniel Graeff Jan. 26-27 in the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona, clocked the fastest GT-class lap of the weekend, and the team’s official racetrack debut was augmented by a virtual flawless performance on and off the 3.56-mile super speedway road circuit throughout the three-day affair. The team’s sister car, the No. 72 Vess Energy Porsche GT3 co-driven by Mike Vess, Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps and Jean Francois Dumoulin, also left Daytona having completed a rigorous three days of testing in preparation for the traditional twice-around-the-clock endurance marathon at month’s end.

Long’s lap of 1 minute, 48.569 seconds at 118.045 mph Saturday morning was fastest among 41 GT-class car-and-driver combinations that took part in the three-day test. Dumoulin, the veteran racer, clocked the best lap of the weekend in the No. 72 Vess Energy Porsche GT3 with a time of 1:51.989 at 114.440 mph.

“That’s just a great momentum booster,” said the 31-year-old Long, who is the only American factory driver for the German manufacturer and a three-time American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 champion (2005, 2009 and 2010) and winner of the 2009 Rolex 24 in a Porsche GT3.

“It’s a new organization coming together and it’s exciting for Park Place in its big debut. That means a lot. For the guys, it’s a really cool thing because it’s a little bit of a thank you for all the long hours that have gone into getting us to this point.

We were on time and we hit our marks this whole week. Quite honestly, it’s a challenge for any team to make every session, to have everything in place all through the weekend. We did that and showed great speed on the racetrack.

#72 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3: Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps, Mike Vess, Alex Whitman
#72 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3: Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps, Mike Vess, Alex Whitman

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

I hope it’s a good omen and we’ll take it for ourselves and for all of our partners, especially the Children’s Tumor Foundation, who are all a big part of why we try to look our best every time we take to the track.

We’re hoping it all points to bigger things to come at the end of the month.”

The veteran Pumpelly, who owns two Rolex 24 wins (2006 and 2011), both in the GT category, among 19 professional victories in GRAND-AM and ALMS competition, was equally pleased in his first at-the-track encounter as part of the new PPM operation this weekend.

“It was my first time with Park Place Motorsports and I was very pleased getting to know all the guys and getting to work with them,” said the 38-year-old Virginia-born economics major from James Madison University.

“We put a really competitive car on the track and we’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience that should work to our advantage come race time.

The nucleus of this team last year (the former Horton Autosport) was always very quick and always seemed to put great cars on the track. So the speed of the car and the fact we were quickest this weekend isn’t surprising.

The fact the car and the team are operating so well is also a testament to the experience the guys have so, even though the team is new overall, a lot of the players involved have a lot of experience.

We’ve got a lot of 24-hour wins under the roof of that garage, so I’m really glad to be a part of it.”

For Lindsey, the 30-year-old who works on Wall Street by day and is coming off a solid 2012 season in the No. 73 Horton Autosports Porsche GT3 that featured six top-12 finishes in 11 outings, this weekend’s exemplary performance by the PPM team is certainly something to take pride in, but represents just the beginning in the overall goal of vying for the victory in his first career Rolex 24 outing.

“It’s obviously the first time this team’s been seen and we’re very happy it was in this way,” Lindsey said. “To be honest, though, we didn’t expect anything less.

We never go to the track and expect anything less than to be on top of the charts. It’s the cherry on top of a great weekend all around, but we came here with other goals in mind to get the crew and the car prepared for the race.

Everybody did a fantastic job and it’s going to be nice to come back for the race weekend with that recognition of having been fastest at the test, especially for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and the Racing4Research effort.”

Hart, the 36-year-old who was born into a Porsche racing family in Northern California and has been racing the German marque and countless others since his career started in 1995, certainly echoed the sentiments of his fellow drivers after seeing how smoothly the team performed throughout the weekend.

Spencer Pumpelly
Spencer Pumpelly

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

“It went fantastic, from my perspective,” said Hart, who co-drove the No. 73 Horton Autosport Porsche GT3 with Lindsey at the 2012 Rolex Series finale at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., last October.

“The car was really good when it arrived here this weekend. All of the drivers had similar feedback. We wanted to make similar improvements to the car as far as what we wanted as drivers.

The engineers and crew chiefs got together, and every session the car got better which, for a driver, inspires so much confidence. That really lets you know you’re with the right people.

Being here with Park Place Motorsports and having a car that gets better every single time you drive it, you really feel blessed to be in such a fantastic car with such a good group of people.”

Graeff, a founding Racing4Research driver who will be participating in his fifth consecutive Rolex 24, knew the No. 73 PPM effort had the makings for success but was ecstatic to see it come to fruition at this weekend’s test.

“To finish the weekend at the top of the GT time sheet is especially gratifying, given the competitive set we face,” Graeff said. “But it’s not necessarily surprising, either.

Patrick Lindsey and John Horton have put together a tremendously capable group of professionals both in the car and supporting it from top to bottom. I think Patrick Long’s quick lap well represents this.

It’s certainly great to have this momentum going into the Rolex 24, particularly for The Children’s Tumor Foundation for whom this event over the last five years has represented significant fundraising and awareness-building.

So, to leave this weekend in this position also provides emotional momentum for kids and families bravely facing the devastating effects of Neurofibromatosis.”

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