Following an hour of hard driving and clever strategy at the historic Lime Rock Park, the Magnus Racing No.4 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS of Spencer Pumpelly and Dane Cameron would take their debut victory during Saturday’s sixth round of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship. Following a car-best second place in Friday’s Race One, a combination of pit strategy and strong “in-laps” by Cameron would hand the team the lead by Saturday’s halfway point, with Pumpelly closing the race by building the gap further. Similarly, a strong run by the No.44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS of John Potter and Andrew Davis would net a fourth-place finish in addition to Saturday’s sixth-place finish.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results for the No.4 team,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “Our first win in the Pirelli World Challenge is something we’ve been chasing after all year, so to finally achieve it at a place like Lime Rock is very satisfying. Spencer and Dane proved strong all week, and it’s something everyone on the team has been striving for. For our No.44 effort, we’re of course always after a podium, but we walked away with a clean car and continued to learn a lot. It was great having Andrew as a teammate and we all wish him the best moving forward.”
With primary teammate Pierre Kaffer unavailable due to a schedule conflict, full-season SprintX driver Spencer Pumpelly would welcome a new teammate to the No.4 program, reigning IMSA Prototype champion Dane Cameron. While a Magnus debutante, Cameron would enter the festivities as no stranger to GT racing, including winning the IMSA GTD crown in 2014.
During Friday’s Race One, Pumpelly would put in a strong qualifying run to grid the Audi in third for the start, wasting no time in the opening laps to seize the opportunities in traffic by elevating himself to second, hounding the lead Porsche for much of his opening stint. During the series-mandated driver change, Cameron would jump in to close the race, setting strong lap times but unable to mount a significant challenge for the lead as tires faded. Still the best result in the history of the No.4, the team would cross the line in second.
With Saturday’s Race Two having a grid set by Race One’s fastest laps, a strong lap by Pumpelly would see the No.4 start the day on the front row, just barely off the pole-sitting Porsche of Marc Lieb. With the driver order inverted, Cameron would take on starting duties for the team, when calamity would ensue next to him as a hard charging Ferrari would send the pole-sitter spinning in to the guardrail, with Cameron lucky to avoid the mess but allowing the No.8 Cadillac of Jordan Taylor to slip through in the process.
Doing his best to chase down Taylor, Cameron would match the Cadillac turn-for-turn, repeatedly demonstrating the strength of both driver and car, but finding the tricky nature of Lime Rock Park nearly impossible to pass on. Opting to preserve his tires, Cameron would give chase for much of the run, but it wasn’t until pit-stops would emerge that the team would mount their real challenge.
Allowing the Cadillac to pit one lap earlier, Cameron would use the clear track in front of him to push as hard as possible before he came in to the pits, meanwhile the Cadillac would re-join the field stuck in traffic, all playing in to the hands of Magnus Racing’s strategy to gain track position. With Pumpelly in the car and minimum pit-stop time fulfilled, the Georgia resident would re-join ahead of the Cadillac with less than 30 minutes remaining.
While traffic would prove difficult to keep his challenger behind him, Spencer once again proved his place among the best in the sport by managing the pace, ultimately gaining a small gap over the course of the final minutes to take victory.
This would serve as not only the first Pirelli World Challenge victory for the team, but also the first overall win in team history.
“I’m really happy we could deliver for all of the guys today,” stated Pumpelly. “This series is incredibly competitive, and you have to capitalize on every opportunity you can, everyone executed perfectly today. Dane had an awesome opening stint and the team played the strategy perfectly to gain the track position we needed; by time the car was given to me I knew I simply had to manage the traffic and make sure I didn’t open the door for the No. 8. I appreciate Michael Cooper racing so clean today, and similarly it’s a shame that Pat Long and I weren’t able to resume our fight from yesterday. Regardless, this one was for the whole team.”
For Dane Cameron, who currently has a 100% podium record with the team, a great experience was shared.
“I’m really happy I could be part of this experience,” stated Cameron. “Magnus Racing is a long-proven team, and this week just furthered that. It was a crazy opening lap and I’m glad the incident wasn’t more serious, it’s too bad that such a strong competitor was taken out that way. Regardless, it was great being able to fight with Jordan Taylor just like we do in prototypes. I knew it was critical to hand over a clean car to Spencer so I didn’t want to take any big risks, and when the opportunity to capitalize on a clean track came I knew we had to take advantage. Spencer proved why he’s one of the best guys out there, and similarly I was very impressed with the whole Magnus team, I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
For the No.44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, a quiet but competitive event was in store for Potter and new teammate Andrew Davis. With primary teammate Marco Seefried also out with a schedule conflict, the experience of long-time GT veteran Davis became the ideal replacement.
During Friday’s Race One, Potter would put together solid series of opening laps, including the fastest race lap for the No.44, as he made work of the field in front of him. With tire wear being a serious consideration at Lime Rock, the focus would eventually turn to tire management, with John never putting a foot wrong by time his stint would come to a close. Davis would take over just before the halfway point, setting consistent laps but settled in to sixth, where the car would finish.
For Saturday’s Race Two, Davis would take on starting duties, once again settling in to a strong rhythm in pursuit of a top-five, with the team pitting him at the final 30 minutes. From there it was back to Potter, who immediately began to gain ground on the field in front of him. While the gap to the third-place No.54 machine would continue to shrink as the laps wore on, John simply ran out of time to be able to mount a real challenge, ultimately settling for the fourth position at the checkered flag.
For Andrew Davis, back with the team for the first time since 2010, an appreciation for the experience was evident.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to come back,” stated Davis. “While Magnus has a fun reputation, they truly are a very professional and well-run team, I’m glad I was able to witness such a great day for them first-hand. John is a great teammate and ran some really great lap times, and while of course we both wanted a podium, we were able to do the most with what we had and should be satisfied with the run. I look forward to following the team’s success and wish them the best moving forward.”
With Lime Rock serving as the fifth and sixth SprintX rounds, all series attention now returns to the traditional “sprint” format of the series, with solo-driver efforts taking over at the next round in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Once again joining the Verizon IndyCar Series, Magnus Racing and the whole of the Pirelli World Challenge will be at the scenic Road America circuit from June 23-25, with Potter driving the No.44 and Pierre Kaffer returning to the No.4.
*From team media release
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