Challenging Race at VIR, TRG Finishes Strong in P5 Recovery

The American Le Mans Series visited Virginia International Raceway for the first time in history, also making the VIR 240 the final four-hour race of the year with 31 cars on the entry list to 17-turns, and 3.27-miles of track. Emilio DiGuida and Spencer Pumpelly brought The Racers Group (TRG) a solid P5 finish in the No. 66 Venezuela/Avior Airlines/Solar Cargo Porsche 911 GT3 and third in the championship points standings for the season after successfully finishing one of the team’s most challenging races of the season.

DiGuida was the opening driver in this mixed class environment.  With the start producing a lot of commotion, the No.66 car took the brunt of rough racing early in the race. After car-to-car contact and related on-track incidents, including a cut tire, loosened body panels, damaged splitter, and a 60-second stop-and-go penalty for questionable fault-contact with a prototype, regaining the two laps lost was a challenge.

Riding the ups and downs of the race would be the flavor of the day,  as the team scrambled to ensure the car had as little downtime as possible after two separate race contact incidents.

“I tried my best, but I got contact twice, and it cost us both times,” explained DiGuida. “I didn’t think either was my fault, but it put us in tough position to make up lost time.”

Pumpelly took the wheel at the 32nd lap starting in P7, and more than two laps down from the GTC leaders. As attrition began to take hold of the field, Pumpelly progressed to sixth. With two of the class leaders due to make their required pit stops, Spencer managed to climb into the fifth position after an appropriately timed strategy call to conserve fuel.

“We had a really, really good car coming in, but couldn’t seem to get a break anywhere,” said Pumpelly.  “Emilio drove great but he got nailed early and had to come in.  We got put in a position where a few things had to happen to get back in the hunt and they didn’t happen. However, all things considering we had a strong finish.”

TRG’s team owner Kevin Buckler noted, “Emilio had some tough luck early.  It didn’t look like he did anything wrong, just a few racing incidents where he got caught on the short end.  He actually had some really excellent times and we definitely had a good enough car to win, but we never got the break on the track we were looking for to get us back in it.”

While TRG arrived at VIR armed with some of the most impressive wins in modern sports car racing history, hard weekends are part of the sport despite a history of overall success.

“Seasoned drivers know all too well that setbacks are going to happen.” Said Pumpelly. “The idea is to keep our eyes looking in a forward motion, and with Petit Le Mans around the corner, that is exactly what the team and I will do.”

TRG is now in preparation for the infamous 10-hour race otherwise known as Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, which is to take place in mid-October. “We are really looking forward to Petit,” Buckler said.  “It’s a chance to really go after a big win in one of the largest endurance races on the planet.  It would set a great tone for the off-season.  We won there two years ago.  We know how to win there.  We’ll be ready!”

The next round of the ALMS championship is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Race coverage is scheduled for live streaming on; qualifying Friday, October 19, 2012 - 2:25pm EDT, and race coverage Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 11:15am EDT.  ESPN2 will rebroadcast the race Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 1:00pm EDT.

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Last Updated (Friday, 21 September 2012 21:07)