Elkhart Lake, Wisc., June 23, 2012 – Porsche entered today’s two-hour Rolex 250 Driven by VISITFLORIDA.COM at Road America with high expectations. The quartet of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entries used the lower-aerodynamic drag nature of the venerable 911 design to be at or near the top of the speed charts all weekend. The fight for the GT class victory was forming to be an extension of this.
Ultimately, in classic Road America form, the battle divided the fortunes of the team’s in half. The legendary No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup shared by Andrew Davis (Bogart, Ga.) and Leh Keen (Charleston, S.C.) finished fifth while the upstart Horton Autosport No. 73 Porsche finished tenth. On the opposite side of the ledger, the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche ended the Elkhart Lake, Wisc.-race with an engine failure and the No. 67 Sargent and Lundy Porsche was destroyed in an accident.
Porsche lost the first of its four entries within the first five minutes of the race. The Sargent and Lundy TRG machine, shared by Steven Bertheau (Aurora, Ill.) and Spencer Pumpelly (Suwannee, Ga.), brought out the first caution of the day when a suspected cut tire prevented Bertheau from turning through the very quick “Kink” corner of the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit. The No. 67 made heavy contact with the wall at the driver-side door. Betheau needed to be cut from the blue and black Porsche resulting in a 20-minute caution period. It is believed that Bertheau sustained the cut tire when another GT competitor made contact with the left-front tire of the TRG Porsche a few corners earlier. Despite the serious nature of the crash, the Porsche crash structure did its job well. Bertheau was awake and alert in the Road America infield care center with no signs of serious injury. The car finished 16th.
Brumos Racing continued its move towards the top of the team championship standings with its best run since a pair of season-opening third place finishes. Davis started the race and ran the lion’s share before turning the white, red and blue-livered Porsche to Keen who raced it for the final 47-minutes. For Keen, it was an all-out battle that saw him rise to the lead before several cars were able to pass him in the closing stages of the race. He would hold fifth after a spirited, multi-car fight through to the checkered flag.
“At the end of the day we were down there in GRAND-AM tech which means we had a top-five finish,” offered Keen. “That’s good, because we’ve had a tough time these past couple of races and we had a tough time this weekend but the guys rallied back and did a great job. We didn’t have quite the car we were hoping to have out there. Still, strategy was a good call, it had us up front. We were trying to hold those guys off but it was really tough out there. In the end, we had a little bit of the tires going away on us and didn’t have quite the speed that we needed. It looks like we are back in out top-five program and now we are just excited to be heading back to the Glen.”
“The guys worked really hard and stayed up super late the first night and got us a great car for day two,” reviewed Davis. “Qualifying was rained out which really affected my stint because we had to start on points which put us quite a ways back. I had some contact with a car on the second lap that damaged the right rear wheel and I think I struggled with that through my stint and it affected the balance of the car a bit. We were still able to kind of keep pace with the leaders. Leh did a tremendous job during his stint and ran up front and it looked really good for us at the end. Over the long run the tires just wouldn’t quite stay under the thing so we just struggled and lost some positions. We got some good points and gained in that regard, so we will just take that to the next event.”
Horton Autosport is the newest of the team’s fielding Porsches in the GRAND-AM Series and, in fact, is one of the newest teams in the paddock. However, the driving pair of Eric Foss (Dallas) and Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.) has proven quick learners. With qualifying being rained out and the grid being set by team championship points, the John Horton-owned and engineered operation started 14th. A brilliant opening drive by Lindsey had the car running second when it followed the Brumos car into the pits for a driver change with less than an hour to go. Foss followed the No. 59 out of the pits and challenged for a top-five finish itself before an off-track excursion dropped it to tenth. The finish matched the team’s best result this season.
“We have a great engineer in John Horton,” offered Patrick Lindsey when asked about the car’s performance. “The draft is a great equalizer here. If we could catch them we could stay with them.”
Magnus Racing also used strong driving and pit strategy to challenge for a podium finish. John Potter (Salt Lake City) started the No. 44 in third and handed the grey and white car over to Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.) with one-hour and 20-minutes remaining. Following a plan that has seen the team consistently finish as the highest Porsche, Lally moved the car as high as fifth with the pit stop cycle positioning the car for another win. It was not to be as an engine failure forced Lally to pull the car to the side of the track with less than 30-minutes remaining. They would finish 14th.
"Today was a big shot to our championship hopes,” confided Lally. “We had a great car and were on a great strategy, and we had big hopes for today. It's disappointing but we'll move on and hope for the best at Watkins Glen. We also would like to wish our best for Steve Bertheau. It was a tough hit and we hope he's ok."
Now at the season’s midpoint, the No. 69 AIM Autosport FXDD Ferrari F458 – which won today’s race as well as capturing two other races this year – sits atop the points standings with 220 points. Just 21 points behind is the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. The highest-ranking Porsche in the standings continues to be the Magnus Racing No. 44. The John Potter-owned program is 35 points out of the lead – the exact amount paid to win. Brumos Racing is another ten markers back in sixth.
The teams now travel to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for the second-longest race on the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule: the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on July 1. The teams will only have one week to prepare for this keystone event on one of the country’s most famous road courses. The task will be made doubly challenging by the addition of third drivers and, in the case of TRG, additional entries and the need to replace the No. 67 destroyed in today’s accident. The Sahlen’s Six Hours is the second round of the inaugural season of GRAND-AM’s North American Endurance Championship.