Richard Lietz (Austria), sharing the #44 Magnus Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with John Potter/Andy Lally/Rene Rast, took over the driving duties with less than two hours left to go at the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona. He then guided his car through two pit stops and to the GT victory for the Salt Lake City-based team owned by Potter and led a sweep of the GT podium by Porsche 911 race cars.
In fact, with Lietz, Henzler and Lieb – all Porsche factory drivers - driving their cars to the checkered flag, Porsche Motorsport North America president Jens Walther is especially proud of the Porsche people, not just the race cars.
“With both our customer race car owners and our factory drivers, we have the best people in the motorsports business associated with Porsche, and they are a key part in making our street cars and race cars great,” said Walther, who has been president of Porsche Motorsport North America, Inc. since 2010.
Winning team owner John Potter could not contain his feelings in the pit box after the checkered flag dropped, as his team was victorious in one of the greatest sports car races in the world after being in existence less than three years.
“This crew works so hard, and we have come so close to the top step of the podium in Grand-Am in the past, but to win for the first time, at this race is something special. Rene and Andy are great guys, and Richard really brought us home strong,” said Potter.
Lietz was pleased that Potter chose him to finish the race, and he thought the field of drivers was especially strong.
“I was honored to carry the team flag to the finish line, and we bested a field of world-class GT drivers,” said Lietz.
For Rene Rast (Germany), the defending Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion, it was his first time at Daytona, but the significance of the victory did not escape him.
“To finish at the top with perhaps the greatest GT field ever is an honor, and I thank Porsche and Magnus Racing for allowing me to be involved,” said Rast.
Andy Lally (USA) won this GT event last year, but switched teams this year to join Magnus Racing.
“This was a great victory for John Potter and Magnus, but it is only the first step in our quest for the Rolex Grand-Am GT championship and North American Endurance GT Championship,” said Lally, who will run with Potter for the entire Grand-Am season in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Finishing the Porsche sweep of the podium is the second-place TRG Porsche of Steve Bertheau/Marc Goosens/Wolf Henzler/Spencer Pumpelly/Jeroen Bleekemolen, and the #59 Brumos Porsche (Leh Keen/Hurley Haywood/Andrew Davis/Marc Lieb) was third. Both teams led for substantial lengths of time during the 24-hour event, but, in the end, both the cars couldn’t catch the Magnus Porsche.
“We ran the whole event flat out, and spent hours and hours in the lead, but we had some front-end body damage that hurt our aerodynamics, and an extra pit stop in the end brought us up a little bit short. Still, we are proud of our Brumos drivers and crew, and we won the GT championship last year after finishing fifth, so we will proceed on that mission again,” said Hurley Haywood, five-time Daytona overall winner an current Brumos team manager.
For Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), qualifying woes put their TRG Porsche near the back of the field for the start of the race, but they also led for multiple hours before clutch woes slowed them down near the end.
“My Porsche colleague Richard Lietz is very fast, and we could not make up any time on the Magnus car in the end. But we are happy with our second-place finish, and the TRG crew prepared a Porsche which performed great all race,” said Henzler, who won the GT class at Le Mans in 2010.
Alex Job Racing’s WeatherTech Porsche was hit by a prototype, ruining its suspension and other parts – causing a long pit stop and a 17th place finish. Similarly, Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche lost its power steering (preceeded accident during the night), which put another pre-race favorite at the 15th finishing position.