|Defending series champions Brumos Racing took pole position for the ultra-competitive GT class. Their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was one of 19 entered in the race.|
It wasn't a surprise that a Porsche would end up on pole. But there were so damn many of them, you couldn't predict which one. It would be the 2011 championship winning car, the no. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 (Andrew Davis/Leh Keen/Hurley Haywood/Marc Lieb) would take pole, qualified by Davis. Taking the second spot was the no. 69 AIM Autosport FXDD Ferrari F458 Italia (Jeff Segal/Emil Assentato/Nick Longhi/Anthony Lazzarro), qualified by Segal, just a hair ahead of the no. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 (Andy Lally/John Potter/Richard Lietz/Rene Rast).
From more or less the start of the race, the GT class was an all Porsche show. But much like qualifying, the question would be which ones would be standing at the end? The no. 23 Alex Job Racing, no. 59 Brumos Racing, no. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports, no. 44 Magnus Racing, nos. 66 and 67 The Racers Group, and the no. 17 Foametix Burtin Racing Porsches all took turns leading the race in the early stages. Hanging with the Porsches but not leading were the no. 57 Stevenson Racing Camaro, the no. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro, the no. 69 Aim Autosport Ferrari and the nos. 62 and 63 Risi Competitzione Ferrari F458 Italias.
However, the no. 62 wouldn't make it past the six hour mark, as it retired with a blown engine. Not long after, some of the Porsches began to fall off from the front. Most notably, the no. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports – a team familiar to ALMS and Le Mans fans – car lost several laps repairing damage after a tangle with a prototype.
|Porsches ruled the GT class throughout the early stages, despite strong opposition from Ferrari, Mazda, Chevrolet, Audi, and Ford. |
The unbelievable pace in the GT class, which several drivers described as a sprint race, contributed to several car failures and mistakes by several of the lead cars. The no. 57 and no. 88 Camaros were able to charge to the front, running 1-2 before midnight, before both cars fell down the order with mechanical problems. Through the overnight hours, the lead went back and forth between the no.44, no. 59, and no. 67 Porsches.
By dawn, it was the same three Porsches at the front but the no. 63 Risi Competizione Ferrari was making a run to the front, getting onto the lead lap just before 11:00 AM. The decisive pass for the lead came when Lally, in the Magnus Racing Porsche, passed Leh Keen in the Brumos Porsche and caused Keen to go off the track, damaging the front splitter of his Porsche. For the final four and a half hours, it was the same four cars circulating on the lead lap, but the no. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche continued to maintain its gap after each round of pit stops.
When the checkered flag fell at 3:30 PM, Richard Lietz crossed the line first in the no. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche, scoring the first Rolex Series win for the team. 9.412 seconds behind was Wolf Henzler in the no. 67 The Racer's Group Porsche. One lap behind was the no. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche, with the no. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro finishing fourth, and the no. 63 Risi Competizione Ferrari in fifth.
|The Magnus Racing Porsche in victory lane. This was Magnus Racing's first win in Grand-Am competition|
“I don't think anybody is going to win a race like this ever again,” said Lally, who will drive the no.44 Magnus Racing Porsche throughout the season with John Potter. “It was said all month long leading up to this as the entry list grew and grew and grew that we had nine different makes of cars and world champions from all over the world, from Formula One to NASCAR to Indycar to international sports car endurance superheores. It was pretty cool for Magnus Racing. I'm sure the whole crew is entitled to a lot of celebration tonight.”