ALTON, Virginia – Following a hard fought double-header series of races, Magnus Racing endured a number of challenges to ultimately walk away with a top-five finish during the first “SprintX” weekend of the Pirelli World Challenge. While mechanical missteps and on-track incidents would thwart much of the weekend, Pierre Kaffer and Spencer Pumpelly would take home a fifth-place during Sunday’s second round, while John Potter and Marco Seefried would take a best finish of seventh in class.
“There were a lot of positives on the weekend,” stated team owner and co-driver John Potter. “Once again we showed a lot of promise in practice, repeatedly posting times at the top, and during the race we were podium threats for both cars, misfortune just got the better of us. I’m happy Pierre and Spencer were able to get a top-five out of today’s race, it’s actually Pierre’s best finish of the season, and gives us a good foundation to move on to the next round in Canada. Marco and I didn’t exactly have the ideal weekend, but again we made a lot of progress and I think moving forward we’ll be able to really capitalize.”
While acting as the third weekend of Pirelli World Challenge competition, this weekend’s events marked the first two rounds of the series’ “SprintX” competition. While traditional “sprint” weekends highlight one driver for 50-minute races, the SprintX championship increases the time to 60 minutes, but with two drivers covering the distance.
Driving the No. 4 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS, Pierre Kaffer would be joined by Spencer Pumpelly. While this would serve as Pumpelly’s first race for the team, his familiarity within the organization is long-standing having held relationships with many team members for over a decade.
During Saturday’s Race One, Kaffer would start in fourth position and was instantly on pace when the green flag fell. Setting laps on par with the leaders and maintaining his car, the German held position throughout much of his opening stint, but as the race continued an opportunity to move up the field became apparent. Fighting for third, Kaffer would seize an opportunity heading in to the tricky “esses,” moving inside of the No. 31 Ferrari in to the left-hander. While both cars were side by side, the Ferrari would turn for the same spot on the track, making contact with Kaffer and sending him spinning in to the grass. The Audi would return on track, although with suspension damage that would effectively knock them out of contention. The team would make quick repairs to get teammate Spencer Pumpelly on track for the end, but ultimately finishing 22nd.
For Saturday’s Race Two, by series rule the driving order would be reversed, with Pumpelly taking on starting duties and then handing off to Kaffer. Serving as his first opportunity to truly go wheel-to-wheel with his competitors, Pumpelly was off to a strong start, once again holding fourth throughout his stint, setting a comfortable pace and pushing hard to challenge the third-place Cadillac. With the pit window open, the team would elect to bring Pumpelly in early, hoping to take advantage of potential cautions, with Kaffer taking the wheel for the second half of the race. Initially fighting for the podium, the car’s handling would fade over the closing laps, with Pierre doing his best to hold on, ultimately taking fifth.
For the No. 44 Audi Tire Center Audi R8 LMS of John Potter and Marco Seefried, an unfortunate weekend of mishaps would sideline their effort.
During Saturday’s Race One, an issue with the car’s power would send Potter to the pits during the opening lap, with the team spending much of the race making repairs in order to get teammate Seefried out in time to set a qualifying lap for Sunday’s race.
During Sunday’s Race Two, Seefried would take starting duties, and during the first half of the race showed a lot of promise for the team to take another top-five result. Pushing hard with the cars in front of him, contact with the No. 77 Porsche would bring out a caution period that served well to bunch up the field. Unfortunately, Marco would end up making contact with the car in front of him while under yellow, causing damage to the front end of the car. John Potter would get in to take his Audi to the finish, however the damage to the front end would hurt all hopes of being able to run competitive times, eventually taking seventh.
For Pierre Kaffer, a challenging weekend would at least be highlighted by a strong finish.
“I’m happy we were at least able to take our best finish of the season,” stated Kaffer. “Saturday was a very frustrating day. We really had a shot, but the Ferrari turned in to me and unfortunately that just changed everything. The second race we were at least able to turn around without any incidents, and we definitely had a good car but we struggled to match the pace as the race wore on. We’ll be even stronger in Canada and I look forward to redemption.”
For Spencer Pumpelly, a debut weekend with the team was still enjoyable.
“Even if the results weren’t what we wanted, I really enjoyed the experience,” stated Pumpelly. “Magnus Racing is an excellent team, and I felt right at home. The car was really fast, and I think we proved that with what we were able to put up during practice. A little change of fortune and the races could have really had strong results, and I’m confident as we head in to Canada we’ll be even better.”
For Marco Seefried, a tough weekend is one he’ll move on from.
“It definitely was a frustrating weekend,” stated Seefried. “We had a good car, but unfortunately Saturday was over for us before it really started, and if I’m being honest I simply made a mistake during Sunday’s race. I can only accept fault for it and move on, and I’m grateful to John and the whole team for being so understanding.”
With three weeks until the next round of SprintX action, Magnus Racing and the Pirelli World Challenge will next head to the famed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as “Mosport.” The series will once again feature a double-header, with Race One taking place on Saturday, May 20, and Race Two on Sunday, May 21.
Magnus Racing will continue to provide updates and coverage throughout the week via their Facebook (facebook.com/RacingMagnus) and Twitter (@MagnusRacing), as well as via www.magnusracing.com.
More information about Magnus Racing can be found at www.magnusracing.com. Any organization interested in learning more about how to be involved with one of the most unique and visible teams in sports car racing can e-mail email@example.com. All press inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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