The inaugural GRAND-AM of the Americas promised Texas-sized excitement as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series came to the new Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin on March 2. Fans at the 3.4-mile, 20-turn road course were not disappointed during the two-hour and 45-minute second round of the 2013 season. Porsche customer teams performed very well at the track with Magnus Racing finishing second in GT class followed by Brumos Racing in third. Texas’ own Park Place Motorsports was awarded fourth with its No. 73 and sixth with its No. 72. The No. 18 of Mülhner Motorsports gave Porsche its fifth car in the top-10 with a ninth-place result.
The No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.) and John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished second after leading late in the going. The second-place result moves the team and its drivers into the GT class point lead. The team won the 2012 North American Endurance Championship.
“The guys put together a really fast Porsche today,” said Lally after the podium celebration. “We weren’t sure how today was going to go. So to be leading with just a few laps left, get knocked off the road twice and still take second shows just how good our car was. Heading to the Porsche 250 in Birmingham as the GT point leaders is still a major positive, we’ll be ready.”
The traditional colors of Brumos Racing’s No. 59 carried Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.) and Leh Keen (Charleston, S.C.) to their first podium of the year. While the 2011 GRAND-AM GT champions never led the race, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based operation was near the front most of the day after starting the race third.
Park Place Motorsports brought three entries from its Dallas headquarters to Austin and all three cars impressed. Leading the way was the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Belleair, Fla.). The car had the most adversity of the Porsches today having both led laps and running near the back of the field. Lindsey was penalized for avoidable contact during his stint dropping the car in the pack. Long fought back to the lead and finished fourth. The freshman team’s highest result thus far.
“We were 12th on my last restart with about 25 minutes to go,” reflected Long. “I knew I had a ‘racecar’ but I also knew that track position was going to be difficult because this track doesn’t make it easy to get around guys. A lot of cars got together and we were able to avoid all the melees and make a couple of passes. This was this team’s first top-five. We’re excited because this is our home race and to have two cars in the top-10 is exciting. We have a lot more potential to crack open and that has me really passionate and excited because I think what motorsports is all about is to grow with an organization like this. There’s a certain motivation when you go to the Porsche Platz in the morning and there are 350 people there cheering for you. It’s a great opportunity to fly the flag and get the word out about what Park Place Motorsports is all about. So it’s very satisfying to put all those Porsches up there at the front here today.”
Having led the race and eventually taking sixth at the checkered flag, the No. 72 Park Place Motorsports entry of Mike Skeen (Durham, N.C.) and Mike Vess was one of the great surprises of the day.
Skeen offered: “That was definitely a tough race. Not a usual one where it’s a battle all the way through. We got down a lap early on but we got it right back on a pit stop. It was a great call to leave us out for strategy. And then I was told we could make the fuel number if I conserve, so I was short-shifting everywhere, coasting on the brakes trying to save fuel. I don’t know what was harder, that or the run to the end for the checkered flag. That was a lot of fun, and of course we had to battle it out to the end on old tires. Held strong for a decent finish and I’m very glad to be here with Park Place and Vess Energy.”
The No. 18 Mülhner Motorsports America machine earned a ninth-place result with Canadian Kyle Marcelli and Dion von Moltke (Choral Gables, Fla.). The third Park Place Porsche, the No. 71 of John McCutchen (Dallas), Jason Hart (Flower Mound, Texas) and Chuck Cole, finished just outside the top-10 in 12th. The No. 19 Mülhner Motorsports America entry ended the day in 15th with the Chilean driver pairing of Eliseo Salazar and Eduardo Costabal.
The race did not end without controversy. The No. 63 Ferrari, awarded the victory on the timesheets, was ordered to serve a stop-and-go penalty plus an additional stay in pit lane of 60 seconds. The team did not serve the penalty prior to the checkered flag. As a result, GRAND-AM officials penalized the team one lap and 90 seconds in the final results. As a result, the Porsche teams up to but not including the No. 71 entry moved-up one spot. The No. 94 Turner Motorsports BMW was awarded the class win.
“My compliments to all of our Porsche customer teams,” said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “This is a new track to everyone and it is good to see all the cars competing on the same ground where no one comes with an advantage of experience. It is an amazing facility, very difficult, very technical. It was a tough race and it is good to see that race control is holding a high-level of expectation for driving etiquette. It is gratifying but not surprising to see how well our teams adapted themselves to this new challenge.”
The No. 38 BGB Motorsport Porsche Cayman driven by Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Jim Norman (Tampa, Fla.), Jeff Mosing (Austin) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta) won both the pole position and the race in the GX class.