Virginia International Raceway
TRG Takes a Wild Ride in Virginia
Alton, VA (May 16, 2011)- Driving through everything from monsoon conditions to constantly changing weather and tricky tire calls, TRG drivers Steve Bertheau and Spencer Pumpelly endured a wild race in the no. 67 Sargent & Lundy Porsche GT3 Cup car to finish 11th at this weekend’s Bosch Engineering 250, the fourth round of the GRANDAM Rolex Sports Car Series.
As ominous weather loomed over the 17-turn, 3.2 mile circuit all weekend, the skies opened prior to the race start, and TRG’s opening driver Steve Bertheau was faced with the first wet weather start of his GRAND-AM career. Bertheau, known for a very steady and smooth driving style, was absolutely masterful during the opening lap, passing as many as 10 cars on the rain soaked circuit before a long caution period would slow the field down.
With the yellow flag period lasting nearly an hour, TRG opted to pull Bertheau out once he’d met his required driver time, and Spencer Pumpelly jumped in to close the race.
With the rain lightening up, the race resumed and Pumpelly began a strong drive around one of his best circuits, setting competitive lap times and clawing his way through the field. As the track began to dry, TRG Team Owner Kevin Buckler took a risky call and pitted Pumpelly in early to switch from wet tires to slicks, which meant Pumpelly would have to drive very carefully as the team gambled on his tires providing an advantage on a drying track. As time went on, the strategy worked and Pumpelly began to set lap times faster than anyone else, and eventually everyone else would begin to come in for new tires handing TRG a major advantage.
Unfortunately, an untimely yellow would pack up the entire field, and once the race restarted, Pumpelly was under heavy threat from the GT field behind him, and a spin on the still wet and treacherous track and into to the grass would eventually put him down the order. Pumpelly would re-join the race and soldier on, however he would finish a lap down and in 11th position.
For TRG Team Owner Kevin Buckler, an amazing stint by Steve Bertheau and excellent team strategy showed great strength in the team.
Steve, did you just pass like 10 cars?
“After the first lap, I watched Steve go by, and then watched a ton of car drive by behind him! I got on the radio and asked ‘Steve, did you just pass like 10 cars?’ Needless to say, he was pretty excited to reply with a ‘yes—-I was testing last week in the wet & it was great.’ Racing in the wet is extremely treacherous and I give Steve a ton of credit, it was awesome and the entire team was so excited. He is our Rainmeister!!!. I think we all called the race right and we were in a strong position to take a podium. We had excellent stops and we were definitely in the form we needed. Unfortunately, the wet track bit us with the spin. It happens and we’ll move on, we’ve got a couple of races coming that should be perfect for us.”
The next round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series will turn around quickly and head to Lime Rock Park, Connecticut for the famed Memorial Day Classic on May 30.