Porsche Adds to Endurance Racing Legacy at Historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Magnus Racing Wins Brickyard Grand Prix and Endurance Championship
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., July 27, 2012 – Porsche has added yet another first to its long list of major motorsports accomplishments. The German automaker became the first manufacturer to win an endurance sports car GT race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and the first to win GRAND-AM’s North American Endurance Championship (NAEC). The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series brought its two-class championship to Indianapolis today for the three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix endurance sports car race. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars outnumbered the competition on the Indy podium with Magnus Racing winning the inaugural sports car race here and Brumos Racing finishing third. Seven Porsches were entered in the 23-car GT field.
“It was good to see finally what all the cars can deliver,” said Jens Walther, President and CEO, Porsche Motorsports North America. “To be on the podium, to win the race and also for Magnus to win the second important race [first being the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January] and thereby the North America Endurance Championship, is quite a great achievement. I am very happy for them but also for the other Porsche teams because everybody has prepared the cars very well for this race. It was an unknown. The track is very difficult because it consists of two completely different tracks with the banking and the infield. All of the teams did a great job. That’s a good day for Porsche and hopefully we can take this momentum up to the next race a couple of weeks from now.”
Magnus Racing drivers John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.) piloted the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to its second Rolex GRAND-AM race of the season. By virtue of winning two of the three GRAND-AM races of three hours or more, Magnus also won the inaugural North American Endurance Championship. The team opened the year with an impressive victory in the 50th Running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona to take an early lead in the three-event championship within a championship. However, the team took a major hit to its NAEC aspirations at the second race when an electrical fire took them out of the running early in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen. The program entered today’s event second-place in the standings and needed a win or second to capture the title. The victory gave Magnus a six point edge over the runner-up in the NAEC and earned it an additional $50,000 in championship prize money. Porsches also finished fourth (Brumos Racing) and sixth (TRG) in the NAEC.
“You just can’t put winning at Indy into words. It’s just amazing,” enthused Andy Lally at the post-race celebration. “I am one of the most fortunate guys in the world to have this job and work with this great team. What this Magnus team overcame two weeks ago when we burnt this car to the ground; to come back and rebuild the tub, from scratch, and come and win Indy is just an amazing feat. Porsche did a great job today at one of the most incredible racing facilities in the world.”
Despite being the first running of a sports car race at the world’s most famous racetrack, the true story of today’s race was the weather. Three major weather fronts swept through central Indiana followed closely by hot, sunny conditions which would quickly dry the racing line of the 2.534-mile, 13-turn road course that utilizes large parts of Indy’s famous oval as well as an infield road course. Further maximizing the struggles was the whole event – practice, qualifying and the race – were compressed into a single day of activities. The lack of track time limited team and driver knowledge of the track and forced much improvisation.
The first storm dumped heavy rain during a support race earlier in the day. The second came between that event and the 4 p.m. start of the Brickyard Grand Prix. It was that storm which forced all cars onto rain tires for the green flag. Within the first 30-minutes, most of the entries had stopped for dry weather racing slicks. A second storm came in the race’s second hour and again would send the teams wheeling for new strategies.
It is fitting that the team most able to adapt to the changing conditions proved the winner. Magnus Racing – which started 14th with Potter behind the wheel made the most of the changes back-and-forth between grooved and slick tires. At the race’s midpoint, the team, now with Lally at the wheel, was in prime position to strike from second-place.
With 40-minutes remaining, the Porsches made their intentions to win this historic event known. Lally, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, took the lead. At the same time, Leh Keen (Charleston, S.C.) moved the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup that he took-over at the halfway point from Athens, Ga.-resident Andrew Davis, into second. A few spots back, Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) moved to fifth in the No. 66 Forgeline TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in which he had been behind the wheel of since he replaced Ben Keating (Port Lavaca, Tex.) at the 30-minute mark nearly two hours before.
“It was pretty obvious that we were just going to have to survive my stint,” reflected Davis. “It was torrential rain before the start, then drying conditions and then another huge storm that came through. The track was just treacherous in the rain. We were able to soldier through and I was able to give Leh the car in good fashion. He did an exceptional job fighting to the end running the fast lap and fighting for the lead. It’s just such close competition here in the Rolex GT Series that it’s easy to go from trying for first and finishing third. It’s a dream come true for me to stand up there on the podium at Indy. For me, as an American driver, it just means a tremendous amount. Really proud of the effort the Brumos guys put forth.”
Davis’ teammate, Leh Keen, on the final hours of the Brickyard Grand Prix: “At the end there is was just wild. It was pretty raw racing. It was everyman for himself almost. I am really happy to get a podium here at Indy with Brumos. It is such a historic team at such a historic track; that’s something really special for sure. The Brumos guys did a terrific job.”
The next milestone to the final results came with five-minutes remaining. While Lally had built a small cushion, Keen, Bergmeister and Jonathan Bomarito – driving the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda – fought over second through fourth. In the infield, Bomarito jumped into second around the Brumos Porsche and Bergmeister moved the TRG machine to take advantage. Bergmeister briefly moved ahead but he and Keen made contact a turn later sending the No. 66 into the gravel and bringing out the final caution. Keen would continue on to third with the Brumos car while Bergmeister would finish 11th. The race finished under the caution.
“It was a pretty eventful day,” Bergmeister recounted. “There were a lot of mixed conditions which I really like. When we would go from rains to slicks it was really fun. The car worked really well. Unfortunately, not the ending we wanted for the TRG team. I think we had a good shot at P3 [third position] but it didn’t end that way. The car was super-quick and hooked-up in the infield. I am happy and I think it showed the car was very competitive here.”
The No. 17 Burtin Racing with Goldcrest Motorsports Porsche had a consistent day at IMS finishing sixth giving Porsche three cars in the top-ten with its drivers Claudio Burtin (Cartersville, Ga.) and Martin Ragginger (Austria). The No. 64 TRG Porsche driven by Indianapolis 500 veteran Eliseo Salazar (Chile) and Eduardo Costabal (Glenshaw, Penn.) finished 13th after a stop-and-go penalty at the start of the race and an off-track excursion later in Salazar’s stint.
“It was a pretty eventful race for me from the beginning,” understated Salazar. “I got into trouble for jumping the start. So, I started with an early stop-and-go. I caught up and passed six or seven guys. And then I ended-up in the gravel trap and lost a few laps. When Eduardo got in, he got caught by one of the rain bursts. He really hasn’t driven much in those conditions. I was happy I was able to turn my fastest lap in my final stint. This is a great track; my favorite. I really enjoyed being back.”
Horton Autosport ran as high as second for much of the first hour of the race during trying conditions with Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Eric Foss (Dallas). However, when the storm struck one-hour into the race, the car ran off course. It would eventually retire with a clutch issue finishing 19th. The No. 72 Grant Racing/901 Shop Porsche 911 GT3 Cup would finish 22nd, having completed 32 laps with the family team of Milton Grant (Germantown, Tenn.), Carey Grant (Bartlett, Tenn.), Kevin Grant (Eads, Tenn.) and Brady Refenning (Palm City, Fla.).
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series will return to Watkins Glen International on August 11.