Potter/Pumpelly Close Out 2009 Season with Top Five
Miami, Fl —
Following a series of mixed fortunes throughout the season, the whole team at TRG were really looking to the final round at Homestead Miami Speedway to end on a high note. After a day of boiling temperatures and untimely incidents, the team’s three-car effort can look back at a top-five and two top-10's.
For John Potter in the No. 65 Magnus Racing/TRG Porsche 997 GT3, a solid first stint was interrupted by an untimely yellow and a resulting mistaken penalty by series officials. When a caution period came out 30 minutes in to the race, John was caught in an awkward position behind the overall leader in the race but in front of the GT-class leading No. 07 Pontiac GXP.R. Under normal circumstances all GT cars in front of the GT class leader are waived around the pace car to catch up to the back of the lead pack, however a mistake by series officials prevented John from being waved by. This mistake essentially put John a lap down.
“I sat in the car waiting to be waved by but it never happened,” claimed Potter. “I’m still not sure what went wrong. Everyone in front of us was allowed to catch up to the field but us, and that sort of set us up to have to claw our way back.”
With the race resuming, the No. 65 was forced to alter their strategy and driving approach to come back from the mistaken call. Grand-Am officials would eventually allow the car back on the lead lap, but at this point the damage was already done. Co-driver Spencer Pumpelly would eventually take the reigns to finish fourth.
For the No. 63 Team Polizei/Dietz & Watson Quality Meats/ Freescale Semi Conductors/Future Electronique/ TRG Porsche, the trio of Peter Ludwig, Henri Richard, and René Villeneuve ended with a solid ninth place finish.
Keeping pace during his opening stint, an unfortunate tire lock-up by Peter Ludwig led to a set of damaged tires, bringing him in for an early pit stop. Going a lap down in the process, Ludwig would finish his stint with extremely competitive lap times, handing over to track debutant Henri Richard.
“I just got a little too hard on the brakes and it just destroyed the tires,” stated Ludwig. “Once we stopped and got tires the stint went very well, and I’m pretty happy with the day overall.”
Having never driven the track until the race, Henri Richard was quickly up to speed. Having just flown in from another race in Barcelona, it only took Richard four laps before he was on pace with the lead lap times, proving the impressive talents of the French Canadian.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I jumped in the car but it all worked out. Everyone at TRG prepared a great car, my only issue was the fact I couldn’t get my cool suit to work. It was so hot in the car that not having my cool suit working was really tough, but I got through it and I’m happy we finished.”
For René Villeneuve, a solid final stint led to a top-10 result, a solid second race for the Californian.
“The final stint for me was luckily pretty uneventful. The Team Polizei car was great, and we were really lucky to avoid some big accidents at the end. I set the goal of a ninth place finish headed in to the race, and that’s right where we finished!”
For the No. 66 AXA/TRG Porsche, the final outcome was not as positive. Following a mysterious electrical gremlin all weekend, a number of incidents throughout the race would eventually lead drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally to retire with a broken radiator.
“There was a lot of contact out there today, it was really hot and it was just one of those races,” claimed Lally. “It finally ended when some dummie in a DP drove into the side of us in pit lane and we popped a radiator. It’s unfortunate but that’s racing.”
For Team Owner Kevin Buckler, a day of mixed fortunes only promises greater results for the future.
“I think a top-five and two top-10’s is a solid end to the year. John was a victim of a really bad call by Grand-Am, and it’s a shame to see the season end that way for him. We had that car in a great position with 4 fresh tires and 5 laps to go but a late race caution had us finishing under yellow. John showed tremendous talent all year---I mean REALLY solid improvement and just excellent driving and with the guidance of Craig (Stanton, John’s teammate for the year who was forced to miss the final race) and Spencer this weekend, it’s been amazing to watch him progress. For the 63 car it was Mission Accomplished and it looked like they were having a lot of fun. Team Polizei is always a joy to have around, and I still can’t believe how quickly Henri got up to speed! Peter was super strong and he put in a great opening stint. René drove his usual smart and professional race with some stellar lap times to boot and brought the car home in one piece. It was too bad to see the AXA 66 have the day that it did. Andy and Spencer are two of the best in GT, but this weekend just never went our way. At the end of the day, there’s a lot we can take from this year and look forward to next. We had a great win at the Rolex 24, and there were a number of races that we showed our true potential. We have a TON of cool new developments for next year, and I’m really excited.”
Stay tuned for a more thorough review of the season in the coming weeks.
TRG is a manufacturer and distributor of high-performance racing parts. The group specializes in engine and chassis tuning as well as full service professional race car preparation. The company also provides electrical and mechanical engineering services, driver development and arrive-and-drive opportunities. TRG is based in Petaluma, Calif., near its home track of Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. The company's NASCAR operation is based in Mooresville, North Carolina and a new state-of-the-art facility is coming on-line at New Jersey Motorsports Park in late 2009.