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REACTION: Magnus Racing Takes Third at VIR, Then Excluded by Series

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 31, 2016)- Following a hard-fought race that saw the team advance seven positions during a nearly “all green” race, Magnus Racing’s recent third-place finish at the Michelin GT Challenge, the ninth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, has been completely excluded at the discretion of series officials due to a ride height infraction.

This is a highly contested point by the team, as they were able to clearly demonstrate on-track incidents led to the infraction. The decision has resulted in a significant change in the team’s championship standings, taking them from second place and only eight points out of the lead with two races to go, to mathematically completely out of contention. It is worth noting that the penalty was for one small part of the car failing by just over 1mm, or the thickness of a penny.

Strongly disagreeing with the penalty, resulting punishment, as well as process to get there, the team will continue to honor their 2016 season commitments in IMSA.

“Disappointment is not the right word, I’m flat out shocked with how this whole affair has been treated,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “We’re the first people to advocate for rules being followed, we have zero history of disqualification, and within IMSA’s own precedent we were able to demonstrate what led to the ride height failure, and yet this is all just being ignored and we’re basically not able to contend for a championship we’ve fought hard for. This isn’t just a decision that takes away a podium, this is a decision that ruins an entire season’s worth of work, over something that is both debatable and with a completely disproportionate punishment. While we do appreciate IMSA’s efforts over the last two days to re-evaluate, we are fundamentally upset with how this has been handled and the inability to do anything about it.”

Starting in 10th, John Potter would take on opening duties for the GT-only race. With a hard charging No. 23 Porsche coming from behind, the two would make contact, twice, exiting Turn One before the race settled in. This contact specifically occurred on the right front of the car and was clearly visible both from outside the car as well as from on-board footage. Despite the damage, Potter continued on, eventually handing the car over to teammate Andy Lally. Lally would proceed on, proving unable to keep pace with the leading No. 48 Lamborghini and No. 9 Audi, but still managing third. It is also worth noting, at one point Lally also would go off road, demonstrating the potential to further the damage to the body work and undercarriage.

With the car in third place, the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS would go through the mandatory post-race technical inspection process. While series officials found that the vast majority of the car cleared the minimum ride height, a small area toward the center of the splitter and a foot behind the leading edge, failed by just over 1mm. It is worth repeating, one small area of the car, failed by just over 1mm, and the rest of the car was in complete compliance.

By series definition, the car was deemed in violation of: Article 13.1.2.a of the 2017 GTD Technical Regulations (minimum ride height as referenced in Technical Bulletin #16-37). While the team is not contesting the existence of the failure, the precedent and counter arguments against both the enforcement and resulting penalty are vast.


Infraction Due to Contact

While not written in the rulebook, there is an established historical precedent within the series of accepting on-track incidents as a possible cause for an infraction. Though arbitrary by design, the existence of this kind of exception exists for incidents such as: damage causing parts to fall off leading to minimum weight violations, car damage leading to ride height violations, etc.

Within Magnus and IMSA, there is already a precedent for such an occasion. At the “Lone Star Le Mans” at Circuit of the Americas in 2014, heavy contact with the No. 94 BMW created a similar circumstance to the most recent incident. Damage to the Magnus Porsche led to a partial failure of ride height, however the series waived it due to the visible damage on the car. Beyond Magnus, of course, there are multiple other occurrences of this very standard being set repeatedly with other teams, as acknowledged by most in the paddock. 

As seen from the team’s on-board video, there was a very clear moment of contact between the No. 23 Porsche and No. 44 Audi. The “crunch” is the effect of the right-front bodywork caving in from the contact. As proof, the center of the nose was shifted, as shown to series officials. Therefore, the team’s splitter, which for the Audi R8 LMS is normally a concave structure, was put under undue stress and was likely compressed and warped to the point that the center was likely drooping.

As continued proof, the splitter’s usual concave nature results in the outer-most points of the splitter registering as the lowest, and the center sitting high. Yet on this occasion, the opposite was true, leading to a clear conclusion that an outside influence (such as contact) clearly bent the splitter during the race.

Yet, despite this contention from not only Magnus Racing, but also management at Audi Sport customer racing, who have an intimate knowledge of their machine and agreed with the team’s conclusion, IMSA officials could not be convinced.


The Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

While the team at Magnus Racing strongly disagrees with the penalty itself, the second major source of frustration is the resulting punishment and implied lack of consistency.

Under race conditions, the team has found no precedent for outright exclusion due to a technical infraction of this nature. Given the debatable nature of the infraction, it’s even more frustrating.

Based on the rulebook, the penalty to the team reads as follows:

Article 56.4: Cars receiving a penalty applied post-Race that alters the finishing position order shall result in all other affected Cars advancing accordingly. Any Car found out of compliance with the RULES may be removed from the results (Exclusion) and other finishers advanced accordingly.

The key term in this is IMSA “may” exclude a team from a race under this condition.

“May” is not clear wording, and in a situation where the difference between third-place points (31) and zero points is the difference of a championship, to enforce the strongest possible penalty is a stretch.

If defining the enforcement is vague and leaves wiggle room, then one must look at previous examples to set the context, which again presents a serious concern.

At the Rolex 24 at Daytona, all Lamborghini Huracán GT3 machines were found to be in violation of Attachment 2, Paragraph 2.9 of IMSA’s rulebook, effectively violating the series’ “sandbagging” rule. This was arguably a blatant violation of series regulations, and could in no way be attributed to “on track” factors the way Magnus Racing’s infraction could.

Yet, despite this, teams were given a five-minute penalty for the infraction, thereby meaning the only “loss” individual teams suffered was any change of position as a result of this penalty. Proportionally, a five-minute penalty in a 24-hour race is equal to a 34-second penalty during a traditional sprint race. The worst case for any of the Lamborghini teams was a loss of five positions. None were outright excluded. 

While series officials would argue the difference was a violation of “sporting code” vs. technical regulation, at a certain point this becomes an issue of semantics vs. a clear examination of looking after the best interest of the competitors. One incident had a clear situation of manipulating the rules for performance enhancement, the other had a questionable infraction, which at most, provided minimal to no performance gain, yet the it’s the latter that received the harshest penalty.

Most recently, during this weekend’s same race at VIR, the championship-leading No. 63 Ferrari was given a penalty for “over-boost,” in which it was detected their turbo-powered engine was producing an excessive amount of pressure from the turbo system. The team was first given a warning, and then given an in-race penalty of a “drive-through,” in which the car was forced to come in to the pits and drive through pit lane at the pit road speed limit. The team dropped back several positions, but was still able to rebound to seventh, and more importantly gain seventh-place points.

While an “in-race” penalty is considered separate from post-race, the spirit of the infraction is similar. The Ferrari was found in violation of a technical item that was beyond its dictated limit, and yet the team was given a penalty that allowed them to finish the race, and more importantly score points.

The other argument provided by series officials is citing past exclusions, however all of these citations were from qualifying infractions. 

The series has excluded cars for ride height violations in qualifying, most recently in the GTD class at Watkins Glen International. Once again, however, Magnus Racing finds this logic flawed.

First, ride height violations under qualifying scenarios are usually harder to debate. In none of these circumstances was there ever any on-track contact. The nature of qualifying typically means cars are distanced from one another.

Second, disqualification from qualifying provides a far less severe penalty. While the team’s time is excluded, they’re still allowed to compete the next day, the only challenge being they start from the back. They still have the potential to race, they still have the potential to win, and most notably they can still score points.

Under race conditions, there has been no known citation for this type of infraction. 

With an outright exclusion effectively treating the event like the team was never there, this in essence serves as the largest penalty in series history. Again, all over 1mm of ride height in a small section of the car, induced by crash damage.

If you consider operational costs and entry fees, “not showing up” acts as a $150,000 penalty when you consider the whole thing. Considering Lamborghini was fined $25,000 for a blatant violation of sporting code, it’s once again a tough item to accept. 

All in all, while Magnus Racing appreciates the competitors, the relationship with Audi Sport customer racing, and of course the fans above all else, the frustration is beyond reproach.



Magnus Racing Partners with Ryan Lochte in Reaction to Team Withdrawals for VIR

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 25, 2016)- With a slew of recent withdrawal announcements from GTD-category teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Magnus Racing and Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte have announced a partnership in advance of this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge at the famed VIRginia International Raceway to help handle the many media requests for the team’s “opinons” on the matter. Taking on a spokesman role for the team at a time when he’s found himself suddenly in search of work, the decision to hire the renowned swimmer, who is no stranger to forcibly uncomfortable public speaking, seemed a perfect fit.

“We felt Ryan would be the best person for the job in addressing the Magnus take on recent team withdrawals headed in to VIRginia International Raceway,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “As someone who, even when we weren’t competitive, has maintained all of his commitments to the series, manufacturer, and of course team personnel, I really don’t think I can say anything on the recent occurrences. That’s why Ryan is such a good fit. He clearly has no trouble going on national television, looking someone straight in the eye and developing a story to fit his need, so he’s the perfect person to handle any more “developments” like this in the coming months. It’s a shame we can’t just talk about racing, because this weekend’s race at VIR should be a great one.”

As the lone GT-only race of the season, Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR promises to be an exciting one. With the GT Daytona (GTD) category facing competitors from Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini and three entries a lone entry from Porsche, the team behind the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS looks forward to the daunting 3.27-mile circuit. Following a strong series of runs, including a victory, during the last two races, drivers John Potter and Andy Lally are optimistic on their chances to gain on the championship-leading No. 63 Ferrari.

Unfortunately, in a 24 hour-time span, two potential competitors withdrew from the event, citing their own “reasons” for the occurrence. These were reasons which clearly did not include upholding commitments made to the series, their manufacturer, and team. 

Taking a spokesman role with immediate effect, Lochte, the 32-year old six-time gold medalist, couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to speak on Magnus Racing’s behalf.

“When the guys at Magness called me I was like, jeah!” stated Lochte. “It sounds like there’s been a lot of shady stuff going down, and I’m here to talk for the Magness guys about it. I totally understand why teams would complain about this ‘bop’ thing all the time, we’ve been trying to get the same thing in swimming for years. When we went to Brazil, we tried to petition to have Michael Phelps carry Verne Troyer on his back to make things fair, but the Olympic dudes were like ‘no, you just have to swim faster.’ That was total dank BS. I wanted to just pack up and go home too after that, but I couldn’t find my wallet so I stayed in Rio. I read the reason why those car teams couldn’t make it to Virginia, and it totally sounds legit, I don’t know why people are being so hard on them. It’s like, come on, these guys have totally legit sponsors on the side of their car, they have to show them that it’s worth the money. I’m sure there were lots of proposals, pitch meetings, and other fancy stuff to get these sponsors, right? How else would a race team find its money? From what I can tell, people don’t just hide behind their sponsors to address their own agenda. That would be totally not cool if they did.”

Unfortunately, Lochte will not be physically present at the famed Alton, Virginia circuit, as he was reportedly robbed at gun point at a gas station in nearby Danville for $20. According to sources, $20 goes a long way in Danville. 

It’s possible, however, that he may have just slipped on a floor mat.

For Andy Lally, however, a return to one of his favorite circuits is a welcome one. 

“VIR is unlike any other circuit in the country,” stated Lally. “Long straights, rolling hills, an excellent series of switchbacks, this course has it all. As a GT-only race it should be pretty interesting, and I believe we should be pretty strong there. With three races to go, every point matters, and we’ve all been very focused on achieving the maximum.” 

Practice begins this Friday, September 26, with live coverage of the race featured on Sunday, August 28 at 1:30 PM ET.


Magnus Racing Impresses with Fourth at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 8, 2016)- Enduring a day that featured everything from starting at the back, to challenging restarts, to untimely caution periods, Magnus Racing demonstrated strong pace throughout Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase to take top Audi honors en route to a fourth-place finish. Closing the day one position behind the championship-leading No. 63 Ferrari, the driving duo of John Potter and Andy Lally maintain second-place in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD-category standings.

“It’s actually a little bittersweet walking away with a fourth,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “With the high speeds of Road America, our position was actually something we would have been happy with coming in to the weekend, but knowing just how fast we were and giving up another position to the 63 is a tough one. Ultimately we showed a lot of strengths, from having a strong car to great pit stops, however with three races to go we know we have a lot to focus on for the championship. Regardless, we were able to put on another great show for all of our guests at U.S. Bank, and we’ll be that much more focused headed in to VIR.”

Having to start from the back due to a pre-race tire change, John Potter would take starting duties in the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS. With over 15 guests on hand from The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, the fourth consecutive year of working in partnership, pressure was high for the entire team to perform.

Wasting no time to climb up the field, Potter would make an excellent start from the back, already making a pass by time the field made the first turn, and slowly working on the field in front of him throughout his stint. Combining an aggressive run with his trademark patience, the Salt Lake City resident would drive an excellent stint, ultimately gaining six spots and rising to eighth by time he would close out his 50-minute run.

With the team making a great stop to put teammate Andy Lally in for the the final two stints, all focus was on gaining ground to maximize positions for the remaining one-hour and fifty minutes. Immediately recognizing the pace of his Audi, Lally was on a strong climb toward the field in front of him, advancing to seventh by time all pit stops would cycle through, and setting some of the fastest laps in the category. Running a pace reminiscent of the previous race at Lime Rock, Andy would pick positions one-by-one, climbing to sixth by time the race reached halfway, and showing the strength of a top-five car as the team focused on the end.

With the team performing a flawless final stop, the pace of the No. 44 proved remarkable, with Andy advancing to fourth in the final 30 minutes with all attention on getting ahead of their championship-rival in third.

Knowing tire wear would work to the team’s benefit, a late-race yellow would actually prove detrimental to the team, with the field slowing down and allowing everyone to pack up. As the race resumed with just a few minutes remaining, an out-of-fuel BMW would end up thwarting Lally’s efforts to move up, effectively wedging an insurmountable gap to the field in front of him, leaving the New York native no choice but to settle in to fourth place until the checkered flag. 

While a strong run for the team, it was a frustrating way to end the event for the renowned driver.

“This was a tough one,” stated Lally. “I couldn’t be happier with the team and the car they gave me, we had an excellent shot at a track that we were unsure of. From the first lap of the season I’m always thinking about the championship and getting every point we can, so to see a couple points slip away like that is a tough one, but we were able to prove how strong we can be and headed to Virginia we will be ready.”

One of the more scenic tracks on the IMSA circuit, Magnus Racing and the entire IMSA GT field will take a two-week break before heading to the beautiful VIRginia International Raceway, taking part in the sole GT-only race on the calendar. Practice begins on Friday, August August 26, with the race taking place on August 28.


The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, Magnus Racing Continue Partnership in Wisconsin


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (August 5, 2016)- Heading to the historic Road America circuit in the scenic village of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Magnus Racing is looking to continue their recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship momentum in to this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. Departing from the shortest circuit of the year at Lime Rock Park and stepping on to the longest, the drivers and crew of the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS will enter the weekend knowing that every point will be of premium importance. Adding to the excitement, the team is pleased to continue their tradition of event-partnership with The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, hosting over 15 guests for the fourth year in succession.

“It’s great to have The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank back with us this weekend,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “They’ve been a great partner over the years, and it’s always fun to introduce so many new guests to our sport. Road America is one of the most exciting and challenging events of the season for us, and to succeed there, you need a little bit of everything. The track requires great braking, high top speed, and fast cornering. There are certainly elements of that which should suit us, but it should be a super competitive field. We’ve always had mixed luck there, but with the championship on the line, we know we have to maximize each weekend, and we’re headed in to this fully aware of that.”

A partnership that first began in 2013, The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank is a perfect example of the value of experiential entertainment within the sport. With 15 guests on-hand from a specialty division of the renowned institution, the team takes great joy in taking them “behind the scenes” by giving them exclusive access to the pit and paddock, private tours around the track, and even VIP rides for a lucky few.

Featuring 14 turns at a length of over four miles, Road America serves as one of the highest-speed venues in the series, a key feature that will spotlight the respective strengths and weaknesses of the entire GT Daytona (GTD) category. After climbing up to second in championship standings at the most recent round in Lime Rock, all attention is on maximizing potential in the final four rounds of the series. Historically, Road America has proven a difficult venue for the team, including a blown engine in 2012 and getting caught up in an incident in 2014.

Keeping all thinking positive, co-driver Andy Lally knows the need to capitalize is at a premium.

“It’s tough to say how we’ll fair at Road America, but we’re all staying positive,” stated Lally. “This is one of my favorite courses to drive. It’s really fast, there are several corners that really require you to push, and it’s a true joy. With the long straights, the cars with good top-speed will definitely have the advantage, but we’ve played our hand really well the last few races, and if we can keep that attitude there’s no reason to think we can’t continue our momentum.”

Practice for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase begins today, with the race taking place on Sunday, August 7. Live coverage can be found at 4PM ET on Fox Sports 1. 


FULL REPORT: Magnus Racing Takes Victory at Lime Rock Park


LAKEVILLE, Connecticut (July 25, 2016)- Returning to a circuit where the team has notoriously endured challenging luck, Magnus Racing took a surprise victory during Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix, the seventh round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Once again proving a team effort, a combination of great pit stops, car setup, and outstanding driving has put the team back in contention for the GT Daytona (GTD) category championship, now currently second in series standings.

“It was an incredible victory,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and co-driver John Potter. “Lime Rock has always been such a challenging place for us, so to come in and take a victory, especially the way we did, is unbelievable. As always, it was a team effort, and everyone did their part with excellence. Yesterday came down to perfect pit stops by the guys, an excellent approach to our car’s setup, I’d like to think I did my part, and Andy was incredible. We thought this race would be one of our weaknesses, so to walk away with a win is pretty amazing.”

Driving the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, John Potter would take starting duties in the 10th position. With lap times that are typically under a minute, the shortest of any circuit during the season, Potter knew that maintaining a grip on the field in front of him was critical. Making an excellent start, the Salt Lake City resident did a remarkable job of surviving early chaos to stay with the lead pack, turning strong times and proving the team would be in contention. As the race hit the first 30 minutes, yet another caution period would cause many to come in for a pit stop, however with Potter still needing to drive his minimum time the team elected to leave him out.

This would cycle John up to second for the re-start, with a strong field that had new tires charging hard behind him. Doing an incredible job of keeping the field at bay, the team owner didn’t put a foot wrong, defending his position well and hitting his marks perfectly. As he closed in on his minimum drive-time, another opportune caution period would present itself. Unfortunately, it was declared a “short yellow” meaning the pits would be closed, forcing Potter to pit after he’d taken the green flag on a re-start.

Coming in for the first of two pit-stops, Potter would hand the car over to Andy Lally, with the team performing their usual excellent service to send him on his way. Due to the short lap times of Lime Rock, the New York native would re-enter the field a lap down, but with a fast car capable of regaining lost ground.

As the stint continued, Lally’s ability to work through the field on new tires was evident, and the driver, who grew up just two hours away in Long Island, would eventually get himself back on the lead lap. As his stint continued on, a perfectly-timed yellow with 66 minutes remaining would allow Lally to catch the back of the GTD field before the final round of pit stops began.

Following another solid stop, it was now up to Andy for the final hour of the race, sitting in seventh but with a very fast car. With a specific setup designed for the final hour, the team’s approach to have a strong vehicle for the end worked perfectly.

Wasting no time to work up to sixth, Lally would begin his march to the front, eventually gaining fifth position, then fourth, with nearly 30 minutes remaining. Following a controversial blocking maneuver from Audi counterpart Robin Liddell, Lally would slip back, but once again continued his charge and eventually found his way up even further.

With 25 minutes to go he was in a podium position, eventually making his way around the No. 33 Viper to finally take the lead with 20 minutes remaining.

From that point on, Lally would never look back, building his lead as the laps continued on until eventually crossing the finish line unchallenged. It would serve as the second victory for the team in 2016, and third in IMSA WeatherTech Series history.

For Lally, a win at his second “home track” is incredible.

“This was an amazing team effort,” stated Lally. “Not only has John Potter put together an incredible team, but he drove excellent yesterday. To start in second with the field he had behind him is challenging for anyone, and he was just perfect. John was incredible throughout the whole weekend to be honest. The guys performed perfect pit stops, and the approach we took with setup ended up being the right call. It’s such a joy to have a car like this, and I couldn’t be more thankful to everyone for it.”

Now 13 points out of the championship lead, Magnus Racing will head to the eighth round of the championship at the infamous Road America with a keen eye on continuing their momentum. Practice will begin on Friday, August 5, with the race taking place on August 7. Coverage will be featured on Fox Sports 1 at 4PM ET.