Braselton, GA, (Oct. 4, 2010) – TRG won the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron Petit Le Mans GTC race at Road Atlanta Saturday. Drivers Henri Richard, Duncan Ende and Andy Lally combined to drive the No. 63 Future Electronics/ Freescale Semiconductors/ Green Hills Software/ Hitachi Global Storage/ NOS Energy Drink/Racers Roast/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car the win at one of the sports cars most prestigious races. TRG now has wins in the top sports car races in the world including Le Mans, Daytona and now Petit Le Mans.
Andy Lally had the wheel of the No. 63 in qualifying, posting a time of 1:25.364, good for second place on the GTC grid. At the start, the Dacula, Georgia resident wasted little time in taking the GTC lead. Although leading and looking strong out front, the good feeling wouldn’t last. Half-way through the first fuel run Lally experienced a flat left rear tire. This and some unlucky track position under yellow had the team down two laps at the one-third distance. Team owner, Kevin Buckler, was able to manage a strategy of aligning driver strengths to the competition as well as the timing of yellows and some superb driving by all to get back the laps that the car was down and put it in a position to win by a margin of four seconds at the checkered flag. The win was the second on the season in the ALMS GTC class, the first coming at Lime Rock Park. The win securely puts Henri Richard fourth in the season ending driver points standings.
“Andy delivered me a car in P1 and in perfect condition,” Richard said. “I settled quickly into a safe pace and short of a spin at the top of the hill caused by taking too much curb out of Turn 10 avoiding a GT2 and then fighting a flat spot that made the car a bit rear end happy it was uneventful. I love this track and can’t get enough of it. TRG was at the top of its game yesterday. Despite some unfavorable splits caused by safety car situations, we were able to overcome those and won in the pits as much as on the track. With the last refueling done and Andy leading out of the pits by six seconds, we started to believe in the victory. It was tight for a few laps, but then Andy started to open the gap and at that point we knew that short of a mechanical failure or an accident, we had control of the race and the final outcome. It was a nice way to finish the season.”
Ende was pleased with his effort throughout the Petit weekend.
“My stint was a tough one all the way through,” Ende said. “Simply dealing with the amount of traffic making its way by was challenging on its own, some of the LMPC cars in particular were making some very optimistic moves, but the car was pretty difficult to wrestle around the track to begin with. All in all I was reasonably happy with the times when I got a bit of a clear lap. While the car wasn’t easy to drive, I think it was a pretty solid car, all things considered. The turning point for the race didn’t really come at the end, but early on when Andy had to pit early out of the lead with a left rear tire coming apart. Prior to that we were looking good to be able to drive a somewhat easier pace and run the race from the front, but once the tire problem cropped up we were put in the position of having to chase down Black Swan instead. With some smart pit strategy we managed to work our way back into things, but I’ve got to say that Andy’s drive back around to catch and pass the 54 for the lead before our final pit stop is what won it for us – that guy is a superhero!”
Lally put in a lot of time behind the wheel, but knows to win a 1000 mile race takes a total team effort.
“It was a long day behind the wheel,” Lally said. The fact that we were involved in a tight battle for the win at every point of the race made the time pass by a little quicker. The traffic was pretty intense because of the high car count this year as well as the speed differential between classes. There were some wild wrecks in front of us that we were able to avoid and working traffic at night were some of the toughest parts of this race. There is never just one key to victory when running a 1000 mile race. So many things have to be done right in order for this to happen and that is where TRG shines. Our crew did an awesome job at getting this car reliable and strong enough to withstand 1000 miles of abuse at this track, our engineer is wonderful at making this car handle the way we need it to. Kevin called a great race strategy wise and my teammates and I drove as hard as we could and never had a single bit of contact for 1000 miles. We made a daring call to only take two tires at the end of the race when we knew our competition was going to take four tires. That was a bit of a gamble but we had to because they had been fueling much faster than we were. John Brenner, one of the best tire changers in the business showed why he is so good as he ruptured his achilles jumping off the wall at the beginning of the pit stop and still limped around to complete his work. That was an amazing portrayal of dedication and we all owe him a lot because that stop set up the one hour show battle that the 54 car and I had right down to the checkered flag.”
Buckler, regarded as one of the top strategy minds in sports car racing managed a strong race at Petit.
“It was a classic endurance race,” Buckler said. “We had the ups and downs of the race and even went down a couple of laps. No one got flustered or quit. We just kept plugging away and took full advantage of our driver strengths and matched them to those of the 54 car. We also were able to manage our car under caution better than they did to get our laps back. At the end it was Andy against their fast guy and we won. Henri and Duncan did a great job all week and I am especially proud of their race performance and mental toughness in a very challenging race and race track. They showed a great deal of professionalism the entire event maintaining focus around cars that were some 20-seconds faster than the GTC field. It was an awesome team win. The car was prepped great and ran strong all day. Our pit stops were flawless and that is what it takes to win these races. We are looking forward to an even more competitive program for next year and are currently looking for partners in both the GTC and LMPC classes.”