Daytona Beach, Florida- TRG’s Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly drove their Porsche to an eighth place finish today in the Fresh From Florida 200 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season opener.
Ende started the No. 39 DigiTrust Group/Adam’s Polishes/Fox River Coffee Racer’s Roast/TRG Porsche 997 from his fifth place qualifying position. Ende proceeded to run in the top five, doing a double stint. When he turned the Porsche over to Pumpelly the team was running strong in seventh.
“I had a pretty good double stint,” Ende said. “I was able to run up with the leaders and we were keeping a pretty good pace. Doing the double stint we didn’t put tires on, so I was an hour and forty five minutes on the same set of tires, which is asking a lot. I made a couple of small mistakes, but when I gave the car to Spencer we were in solid shape.”
During the yellow plagued three hour race, eight cautions for 31 laps, the restarts played havoc on the No. 39. The big V8 cars would be able to pull away on the restarts negating any advantage the TRG drivers were able to gain.
“We are really good in the infield,” Pumpelly said. “Then when we get up on the bank the Mustangs just blow by us. The car was handling excellent, we just don’t have the horses to challenge them. Duncan did a great job doing a double stint. He qualified well and ran up front all race. We had no issues with the car. It is just frustrating running in the top 10 and really not battling for a chance to win.”
In the No. 41 Magnus Racing/TRG Porsche 997 John Potter and Andy Lally ran into trouble early in the race. John Potter started the Porsche from the 12th row and following the first caution period lost third gear and eventually fourth. He pitted on lap 18 and turned the car over to Lally.
“During the first caution I lost third gear,” Potter said. “Then I also lost fourth. I was going through the Bus Stop turn in fifth. It became tough to keep the momentum of the car up. I turned the car over to Andy to see if he could nurse it home for some points.”
Lally took over and soon lost all drive to the rear wheels of the 997.
“When I got in I had first, second, fifth and sixth gear,” Lally said. “It wasn’t fun to drive, but it wasn’t impossible either. Then around lap 37 it went to total neutral. We weren’t breaking gears. I think it was in the internal linkage somewhere.”
Kevin Buckler, team owner, was satisfied with the performance of the team and worried about the future.
“Duncan and Spencer had to drive the tires off the car to place in eighth,” Buckler said. “We really have to kill the car to keep up with the Mustangs and BMW’s. We just burn down the car and then when it is time to race at the end we have nothing left. Spencer can race with anyone, anywhere, but with our competition disadvantage we are just asking too much from him and Duncan. John and Andy did a great job this weekend. John has been getting so fast and is really a “heads up” driver. We have a championship caliber team, we just need the opportunity to make things exciting at the front.”
01-20-2009 â†’ TRG Ready to Open KONI Challenge Season at Daytona
Petaluma, CA – TRG is ready to open the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season on January 23 at Daytona International Speedway. The team will field two cars to start, what hopes to be, a championship run.
Although the current rules configuration does not favor the Porsche 911 GS cars, the drivers are confident that the professional TRG approach to preparation, speed and strategy can still have a chance to win on Friday.
Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly will be driving the No. 39 The DigiTrust Group/Adam’s Polishes/Fox River Coffee Racer’s Roast/TRG Porsche 997. The duo ran a lot of laps at the test in early January to prove out the work that the team has done on the cars over off season. Ende will be relying on TRG’s strengths come Friday.
“Strategy always plays a big role in KONI Challenge races, but since Daytona is at least a half hour longer than our normal races we have even more to work with in the race strategy department than usual,” Ende said. “Since we also have a bigger disadvantage to the more powerful Mustangs there than anywhere else we race, our pit strategy is really essential to a good result. With its emphasis on straight line speed over cornering ability, Daytona never shows our cars at their best. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with the way our car was working at the end of the test days. Spencer and I will be happy to have a solid race and take home decent points instead of the big goose egg we had in Daytona last year.”
Ende will also be running in the Rolex 24 hour. He will be driving the No 68 James Farrell & Co./Pallis Properties, Inc./COLO Columbia River Logistics/Cohen Financial/TRG Porsche GT3.
“I’m really excited about driving the 68 car in the Rolex 24 this year! My goal for the car as a whole is for us to have a clean and consistent race in which we only see the pit lane for fresh tires and to fill our fuel tank. If we manage that, I think we have a very good chance at going home with a good result. My personal goals are to show what I can do in a very competitive GT field and do my absolute best for the team. We have such a solid team from top to bottom, both drivers and crew, that I cannot wait for things to finally kick off!”
In the No. 41 Magnus Racing/TRG Porsche 997 John Potter and Andy Lally are poised for a strong run. The pair worked well together in the early January test and are looking forward to getting the season going.
“While I have done several GT races, this will actually be my first KONI Challenge race,” Potter said. “I am looking forward to seeing how the strategy is different. I do know that KONI races are extremely tight and very competitive. With the cars being so balanced by Grand-Am I know that strategy can make all the difference. I have had a great relationship with the TRG KONI crew, who are far more experienced than I am. I am looking forward to the “strategy” challenge. The KONI car felt great after the test day. I was a little nervous at first after driving the GT car at the same event. I didn’t want to throw the GS car off or something trying to do what I could do in the GT car. It’s very responsive, thanks to Andy Lally’s help with set-up and the crew, the car did exactly what I told it to do. There were a few things that I am still working through but nothing that we can’t deal with before the race.”
Potter will also be running the Rolex 24 in the No. 65 Riegel-Stanton/Cystic Fibrosis Foundation/65 Roses/Magnus Racing/Marquis Jet/Resorts International/IPC/Total Lubricants/TRG Porsche GT3.
“Well this will be the longest race I have ever done. I have some great co-drivers and I hope to learn as much as I can while going as fast as I can, avoiding mistakes. I think we have a great opportunity to do well in the 24. It should be fun.”
Kevin Buckler, team owner, is looking for some parity with the rules in KONI Challenge.
“We did a great deal of work over the winter on our KONI program,” Buckler said. “At the test the Mustangs would just motor by us. With our setup and driving talent we were able to make up a little distance in the infield and the Bus Stop but with the run from NASCAR turn one to the entry of the Bus Stop and then the exit down to the road course turn one they just walk away from us. There has been a small competition adjustment, but it is not close to being enough. We will have to rely on excellent pit work, great driving and some extreme strategy calls to be in contention. I am looking forward to this first race of the season.”