As originally appearing on www.magnusracing.com
When Magnus Racing came into this weekend’s Championship Finale for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at the famed Lime Rock Park, tensions were high as the team looked to secure its first season-long championship. Unfortunately, the team’s hopes were severely compromised by an errant Aston Martin that took the car out on the second lap. Thanks to another stellar performance by the Magnus Racing pit crew, however, the team was able to rebuild the car with enough time to get back on track and salvage a second place in the final series standings.
The finish was also strong enough to award John Potter the elusive Bob Akin Award for the season, an accomplishment that goes to one GT driver every year.
“As disappointing as the opening was, the team’s amazing recovery really put an accent on our season,” stated Magnus Racing team owner John Potter. “When the No. 66 went off track, I couldn’t believe that he came right back into our car. It was beyond frustrating and disappointing, and I’m speechless that we lost our shot at the championship over an avoidable mistake by a one-off entry. However, earning second place on the blood, sweat, and tears that went into rebuilding the car was a true demonstration of everyone’s commitment to the team. There wasn’t a person who didn’t immediately jump in to do their part, and I have to thank everyone for an unbelievable job all year. It’s also a great honor to be given the Bob Akin award, and even though I’ll be the one receiving the award, it truly is a team accolade.”
Starting the race in eleventh, it was business as usual for the Salt Lake City resident. With the tight and twisty confines of Lime Rock proving notorious for incidents, Potter knew his job was simply to stay out of trouble.
Unfortunately, heading into the first turn on lap two, trouble found him. Richie Stanaway, making his Rolex series debut in the one-off TRG No. 66 Aston Martin, lost control of his car and ran wide into the dirt. While the New Zealander could have stayed wide and rejoined the course safely, he instead opted to join the racing line that Potter’s No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was occupying.
As a result of the contact, Potter went into a slow spin and sat sideways on the exit of the corner. Unable to avoid him, both the No. 11 Lotus and No. 94 BMW would make heavy contact. Potter would limp his damaged vehicle, with no visibility thanks to a popped-open hood, into the team’s paddock.
Although the car appeared to have terminal damage, the team gave no thought to retiring. Knowing that both Potter and Lally would need to drive a minimum of thirty minutes to be credited with points towards the championship, the team sprang into action replacing virtually every part of the car’s front end. After replacing radiators, front bodywork, brakes, and multiple suspension components, the car would miraculously be on track just over 30 minutes later.
With Potter managing a few laps to complete his mandatory time, it was time for teammate Andy Lally to do the same. Unfortunately, once the car resumed race speeds, another small issue would send the car back into the garage for additional repairs.
As the laps continued, the race on track would prove intense for the championship rivals, the No. 63 Ferrari and the No. 57 Camaro. During the course of the event, both cars would be involved in separate incidents; the Camaro taking the worst of them and nearly falling a lap down.
With Andy Lally back on track and securing points for himself in the process, the track position of the No. 57 meant that Magnus was poised for a second place finish in the championship.
As the race would unfold, team calculations showed that a third place by the No. 57 would be the minimum placing to usurp the team’s championship position.
Luckily for everyone at Magnus Racing, the Camaro would move from fifth to fourth during the closing laps, but never managed third. As a result, the No. 44 team would take second place in the final Rolex Series season by just one point over the No. 57. The car would be credited with 13th in the race, ironically the worst finish of the year.
“I’m so proud of everyone here,” stated co-driver Andy Lally. “It was a bittersweet result, to put it mildly. Words can’t express my disappointment in the opening laps, but what these guys did to rebound is nothing short of heroic. We may not have a championship, but yesterday proved that this is a championship team.”
Magnus Racing will now join the rest of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series on tonight in New York’s famed Gotham Hall for the final banquet of the series.
The team will post continued updates and announcements throughout the coming off-season.
Everyone at the team would also like to congratulate Allesandro Balzan and the entire Scuderia Corsa team on a fantastic season.