TRG takes 3 of the top 4 spots in GT at Rolex 24 Test
TRG took to the track for the first time in 2009 with five Porsche GT entries in preparation for the Grand-Am Rolex Series Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona to be run January 24-25. The team of Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Andy Lally, Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister led the final session Sunday night and ended the three day Roar Before the 24 weekend, second in the GT field going into the race in 19 days.
The No. 67 Construct Corps/CRG/No Fear Energy Drinks/K1 Speed/Gemstone Winery/TRG put in a time of 1:51.169 and the team hopes that the speed shown under near perfect 80 degree temperatures will be sign of things to come for the race.
“I am steadily getting back into the flow,” Marks said. “I have been away from sports car racing for almost four years. There are a lot of things to getting a good rhythm in the car like threshold braking, shifting and taking the fast line. I am just trying not to go make it all come back at once, I am pacing myself. We have guys in the car who have spent their racing lives behind the wheel of a Porsche and I have left the setup to them. The Porsche is a different car to drive compared to what I was used to in the BMW. I am getting all the right feedback and help from my co-drivers to get up to speed. Once I get the miles from this weekend and then the race I will be ready to help with the setup of the car and all of that come VIR at the end of April.”
The No. 65 Riegel-Stanton/ Cystic Fibrosis Foundation/65 Roses/Magnus Racing/Marquis Jet/Resorts International/IPC/Total Lubricants TRG Porsche driven by John Potter, Bryce Miller, Craig Stanton and Marco Holzer put down a time of 1:51.176. The team carries the colors of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is offering unique tours and VIP experiences for charitable donations at the Rolex 24, look for more information at www.65rosesracing.com.
“The car is a brand new 2009 Porsche,” Potter said. “So every time we go out for a practice session the car gets that much better. There are subtle differences between the 2008 and 2009 cars. We are doing things like adjusting the foot pedals and working on the handling. I ran here during the evening at the test in November and over this past weekend. The lights are so bright it is almost like running during the day. This will be my first 24 hour race and I am looking forward to coming back at the end of the month.”
Riegel-Stanton team owner Ted Rozsa believes he assembled the right pieces to be successful at the end of the month.
“This weekend was a great experience for the Riegel-Stanton team and I am very pleased with our progress,” Rozsa said. “John and Craig have been spending a lot of time together and the chemistry between them is great. I am very happy to have Bryce on the team and Marco Holzer has brought a maturity well beyond his years. With John Bedell as our crew chief, I think we quietly have one of the stronger line-ups out there and I am cautiously optimistic headed into the 24.”
The No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber/Wealth Management Strategies TRG Porsche of Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Emmanuel Collard and Richard Lietz followed the lead TRG GT3 Cup car with a time of 1:51.277.
“The weekend started off a little rough,” George Jr. said. “It is a brand new car and we were playing with the bump stops and suspension settings. We now have a real solid car and we were able to use the last session to really get down to the fine tuning. We qualified third last year and this year we are hoping to go for the pole. We finished third last year and are hoping to finish the race two steps higher.”
The No. 63 TRG/Guardian Angel Motorsports (GAM) entry of Bruce Ledoux, David Quinlan, Dan Watkins, Steve Zadig and Kurt Kossmann posted a lap of 1:51.941. The team will return to Boston and focus on collecting as much money per lap as possible to help support Children’s Hospital Boston, www.guardianangelmotorsports.com.
“We spent most of the weekend working on the handling of the car,” Ledoux said. “We were working through the shock adjustments and things like that the first two days, which takes time when you are trying to get five drivers as many laps as possible. We also had some gearing issues, so we were really working toward drivability for the long race ahead. By the end of the weekend we really had it worked out and have a good baseline to come back at the end of the month. So now we will go back and focus on getting as much money in donations as possible for the race. We really started this from nothing and it is our first year, and add in the tough economy that just adds to the challenge. We have received a lot of support from fellow competitors in the paddock so we are encouraged.”
In the No. 68 James Farrell & Co./Pallis Properties, Inc./COLO Columbia River Logistics TRG Porsche, Josemanuel Gutierrez, Steve Miller, Chris Pallis, Duncan Ende, and Scott Schroeder threw down a lap of 1:52.211.
“The weekend went very well,” Gutierrez said. “I was at the November test and with this weekend I have just been getting more confident in the car. The car is brand new and the shake down this weekend produced no issues, no funny smells or noises. We ran the full three days running consistent lap times. The car is fast on the banking and in the infield. As the weekend went on I tried some different lines and have become more comfortable with the draft as well. It is fun to drive here. You can go three wide on the banking. This will be my first 24 hour race. There are a lot of big names in the race and we hope to running right behind them ready to take over if they stumble.”
With all five TRG Porsches exercised and headed back to the shop for final preparation for the Rolex 24, Kevin Buckler, team owner, is happy with the weekend and the speed of the cars.
“We had no major incidents this weekend and I was very proud of the job my guys did,” Buckler said. “We were able to get four of our cars in the top ten on the time sheet in the last session which really validates the work the drivers and crew put in all weekend. The goal for the test days is to get everyone familiar with the team, the track, the car and of course their co-drivers. The speed of the cars is something that comes as the weekend progresses and the guys get back into the rhythm of driving from the off season. We also have four brand new cars, and that always means a little extra setup work. We will go back and download all of the data and provide the feedback to the drivers and the crew and be ready to come down here in three weeks and race for a third win.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be televised live Saturday, January 24 beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST on FOX. The coverage then transitions to the SPEED Channel at 4:30 p.m. going to 10:00 p.m. SPEED will rejoin the action at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning taking it to the checker with post race interviews concluding at 4:00 p.m.
TRG was founded in 1993 and has been competing at the top level of motor racing ever since. The team has the most wins of any team in the Grand-Am Rolex Series with 25, including the 2005 and 2006 Rolex Series GT championship trophy to go along with wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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, NC and a new state-of-the-art facility is coming on-line at New Jersey Motorsports Park in late 2009.