Magnus’ Future Unclear After Turbulent 2016 Season

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

The future of Magnus Racing is unclear, following a turbulent end to its 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season that saw the team lose out on a GT Daytona class victory, an additional podium finish and a potential class title due to rules violations.

The team’s No. 44 Audi R8 LMS of John Potter, Andy Lally and Marco Seefried crossed the line first in Saturday’s season-ending Petit Le Mans, but was stripped of its class victory post-race due to Potter not completing the Bronze/Silver minimum drive time of three hours.

Potter, instead, logged only a single stint of 53 minutes in the ten-hour race, in what the team claims was a misunderstanding with the IMSA rule stating that each season-long paired Bronze/Silver driver must complete the minimum drive time, and not just its third Bronze/Silver-rated driver.

The rule also caught out the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, which initially elevated them to second in class due to Magnus’ infraction, but then was also moved to the rear of the GTD results after a post-race audit by IMSA.

It’s understood the team intended for Potter to only drive a single stint in the race, with the understanding of them forfeiting driver points for Potter only, and the team and his co-drivers still earning points and the result.

That, however, was not in the rules, which were adjusted for 2016 following a similar strategy that helped take Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell to the GTD title in last year’s rain-shortened Petit Le Mans.

While Magnus didn’t catch the infraction until it was too late, its competitors were aware of the situation, even midway through the race.

“He crossed the line first, so I feel a bit for them,” GTD race winner Jeroen Bleekemolen said. “But even before I got in the car, with five hours to go, we were aware of the situation.

“We saw the numbers, so either John had to go in for a long time and they would have been way back.”

Magnus did not elect to protest the penalty and finished with 11th place points.

The team, however, walked away with one piece of hardware, in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup GTD Teams’ Championship, although Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen took the drivers’ title in the four-round contest.

Its class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and podium at the Twelve Hours of Sebring served as highlights of the season.

“We took a very specific approach to this race, with all of our attention firmly on maximizing the points at various stages of the TPNAEC,” Potter said in the team’s post-race press release.

The Petit Le Mans fiasco came just two races after its exclusion from the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR in August, due to a ride height violation that took them out of the GTD championship battle.

Lally and Potter entered the VIR weekend trailing Scuderia Corsa’s Balzan and Nielsen by 15 points but left with an insurmountable 40-point deficit with two rounds remaining.

Magnus protested the exclusion, on grounds that it had a similar infraction, caused by contact with another car in 2014 that did not result in a penalty, but IMSA upheld the ruling.

While the VIR exclusion cast questions into its 2017 program, there are now further doubts on whether the team will continue in any form next year.

It’s understood a return to the WeatherTech Championship is unlikely, with a move to Pirelli World Challenge not being an option due to its single-driver format.

Post-race at Road Atlanta, it’s understood some of the crew indicated that Petit Le Mans could have been the team’s final race.

A team spokesperson told Sportscar365 that multiple options for 2017 remain under evaluation and that further updates will be issued in due time.

32 Comments

  1. Roger Mashburn

    October 4, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I can understand Potter’s frustration with IMSA, particularly regarding VIR, but I really hope they stick with IMSA just for my own selfish reasons of what they bring to the track. They are a well run team that is actually rather fun to be around. Nor do I want to see the team members lose their jobs as I don’t think Potter has any interest in PWC or ELMS.

  2. Nick

    October 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Get over yourself

    • Olly

      October 4, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Potter or the guy above you? Lol

      • Nick

        October 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

        Potter lol, but really Magnus in general

        • Olly

          October 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

          True lol agreed 😂

    • Someone

      October 4, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      “I broke the rules willfully and now I’m mad at the org for writing them”

  3. Jake

    October 4, 2016 at 10:40 am

    The problem with catering professional racing series to rich gentleman drivers. They will do whatever it takes to get wins/championships, but the moment the series tries to enforce rules that make the rich guys do their fair share of the driving, then suddenly they get upset and threaten to quit. Good riddance

    • Cactus Tony

      October 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Thing is, had it just been the Petit issue, they’d probably be back next year. It was icing on the cake, but it wasn’t the main issue. The main issue was screwing their championship because of a relatively minor infraction, an infraction which had been inconsistently policed prior.

      John Potter is no RJ Valentine, but whatever floats yer boat.

      • Andy Flinn

        October 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm

        WTR faced a similar drivr time issue and result at Daytona a few years ago.

        I prefer the way WTR handled it.

        • duh

          October 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm

          In that instance the series bent over backwards to not penalize them too badly, even claiming they forgot to change the rule.

          • Bakkster

            October 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

            And in WTR’s case, that was a safety issue, rather than a competition issue.

          • Andy Flinn

            October 4, 2016 at 8:47 pm

            Duh, last year at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, WTR lost their podium (third place) finish and associated points, were busted down to a 16th place (and last) finish in prototype and placed 52nd overall.

            Why?

            They violated the maximum drive time limit of four hours. In 2014, Turner received a drive time penalty as well at Daytona. (Bakkster, you can call it whatever you want – safety issue, whatever – but it was definitely a drive time penalty.)

            So duh, how was that a case where IMSA “bent over backwards to not penalize them [WTR] too badly”? Because IMSA gave WTR 16th place prototype points after finishing less 70 seconds behind the winner? Give me a break!

            What I appreciate most is how Wayne Taylor admitted that he and his team were disappointed but that they accepted the penalty.

            That is a class act.

          • Bakkster

            October 4, 2016 at 10:07 pm

            @Andy
            The rules as written when WTR violated the drive time rule started the penalty was exclusion from the race, zero points. IMSA retroactively changed the rule so they were given last place points (15 or so) instead. IMSA straight up said they should have gotten zero and we’re making an exception to change the rules retroactively, that’s why duh said they bent over backwards.

            And it’s not a huge difference, but there is a difference between the minimum drive time to make it fair for amateur drivers, and the maximum drive time to keep everyone on the track safe. That’s why the rules used make maximum drive time a bigger penalty.

          • Andy Flinn

            October 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm

            Bakkster, I appreciate your perspective. However, giving WTR last place points in prototype at Daytona last year and a final finishing position of 52 among 53 starters, when they finished the race on the lead lap and 67 seconds behind the winner is hardly a case of IMSA “bending over backwards,” even if they did retroactively change the rule.

            “Bending over backwards” would have been IMSA allowing WTR to keep their third place finish and all of the associated points toward the championship.

            I also don’t recall any other teams complaining that IMSA decision show preferential treatment toward WTR.

            In the case of minimum versus maximum drive time penalties, they may seek different objectives for amateur and pro drivers, but they are both still drive time penalties.

          • Bakkster

            October 6, 2016 at 7:46 am

            They effectively halved the penalty for exceeding maximum drive time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was only because it was WTR, but they did take unprecedented action to reduce a deserved penalty (in a case they shouldn’t have, IMO, again because fatigue makes the race dangerous).

            So back to the initial point, it explains why WTR wasn’t too upset about the penalty. They knew they broke the rule, and IMSA changed the rules retroactively to give them 15 more points than they expected. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

            Similarly, Magnus seems to be taking this one on the chin after realizing they misread the rules.

      • L. Perry

        October 4, 2016 at 4:26 pm

        That’s a crock! Had the car been low on a corner that had taken damage that would be one thing, but the car was low in the center, that does not come from contact damage. 2 totally different situations.

        • BartHoleMy

          October 4, 2016 at 8:18 pm

          I thought their splitter was fubar’d in that instance. You realize they check RH at four hard points and then run a specified height roller under the car. So, for example, if you were running a ton of rake in the car, you could pass on RH inspection but the roller would hit your splitter.

          My point is that if your splitter is falling off the car, it will not pass the roller test.

          • juneracer

            October 5, 2016 at 6:51 am

            and lets not forget that IMSAs roller is 1mm smaller or under the minimum ride height rule. so IMSA gives you a margin already. on a GT car if you don’t leave 3mm margin, to the minimum ride height, your tempting fate…

  4. David Chaste

    October 4, 2016 at 11:09 am

    When they made fun of the #22 AJR Porsche which i feel had a legitimate complaint, and then they decided to hire Ryan Lochte to speak on the matter, i felt team of such high caliber should have stayed away from such low level insults.

    Only bad things can come out of such pettyness.

    They won Daytona, they can sell that for the next 5 years, maybe 10. The ultimate bragging right this side of the Atlantic. They shouldn’t make fun of fellow competitors unless directly attacked by them.

    • Jack

      October 4, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      The 23 car has the most poles, and was Consistantly in the top 5 on fastest laps, they (22) were complaining cause the car was hard to drive and they wanted imsa to give them better BOP to make there car drive better, but not faster. That’s not imsa’ job to make there car drive well, it’s there job to balance the performance, which if you look at top speed( which they usually had the highest) and lap times. They were balanced.

      • David Chaste

        October 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        The guys in the 23 car are really gold rated drivers. They simply are not rated that way because they have never been in a factory car. They simply made too many mistakes to contend and so did the team.

        • Georg

          October 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm

          Being Gold has nothing to do with being in a factory car. Factory drivers are usually rated Platinum. Gold drivers are the non-factory drivers that are considered professional whatever that means (speed, results, getting paid to drive). The likes of Lally, Pumpelly, Keen, Palttala, Balzan to name a few in GTD.

          Both of the 23 guys should be Gold. Riberas has even been a Porsche driver… Farnbacher has been upgraded to Gold after the last two seasons, deservedly, but someone has pulled some strings and both times he’s been returned back to Silver.

          Being false-silver and scoring pole positions against real amateurs that own and fund their teams… I like both of these kids but somehow I’m not unhappy they didn’t win the title. Christina is a true Am, just a very good one.

  5. JC

    October 4, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Teams come and go. If they are unhappy, they should move to a series that makes them happy.

  6. N8

    October 4, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Well, the beauty of owning a GT3 car is that you’ve got options aplenty. This lineup would do well in BES. Go for it boys!

  7. Matty

    October 4, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Exclusions didn’t influence anything. Number one reason you can’t blame IMSA for this… Scuderia Corsa Were Better

    • Kirk

      October 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      And didn’t break the rules.

  8. Troll Me

    October 5, 2016 at 3:53 am

    IMSA is Voldemort.

    Voldemort is IMSA.

  9. CJ

    October 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Sprint X is an option in PWC isn’t it? That is more than one driver so wouldn’t this suit the team?

    • Bakkster

      October 6, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Except the PWC season will combine normal rings and sprint X into a single schedule next year. Plus there are only five races.

  10. Spaaaace!

    October 6, 2016 at 6:17 am

    I await their awesome YouTube upload. It will be the true mark of Magnus to make fun of themselves after a few days. Maybe spin it to where they felt bad for the Viper messing up that last lap.

    They really should move up to DPi after this and fight for overalls. Paint the car a horrible color so it is always on TV….or on a poor internet stream…or really just an upload 2 days after the race…

    Damn I hate IMSA now too…

  11. Jazzed_on_Java

    October 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I hear some criticism of IMSA, and no organisation is perfect, but for race fans in UK, IMSA do a great job of looking after us. The race coverage, flag to flag on a stream, is in HD and generally is very reliable, the quality of camerawork is excellent, and the YouTube uploads of the complete race are of superb quality, exceeding replays from WEC, with 720P / 60 FPS (assuming you have enough bandwidth). I’ve been a fan of ALMS / IMSA since ’06 and despite a couple of rough years after Grand Am / ALMS merger I really think they’ve hit their stride again.

  12. Eric

    October 8, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Hope they don’t go anywhere.

    I get the frustration with the VIR thing as the inconsistency with the issuing of the penalty, mixed with getting fully excluded rather than even bumped to the back seemed pretty unnecessary.

    Their great press releases/videos gathered fans for them which is good for the series in general, and they usually had a good attitude. If they don’t turn up again it will be a loss for the series.

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