TRG Pulls Porsche GTD Entry Due to Daytona Tire Issues

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

TRG has pulled its Porsche 911 GT3 R from the remainder of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season due to what team principal Kevin Buckler states as tire issues stemming from January’s rain-affected Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The GT Daytona class car, which Buckler said was registered for the season, will not be at this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, after the team’s 10th place class finish in Daytona, which Buckler said was hampered by punctures during the race’s changing track conditions overnight.

“I’m not happy with the situation over there right now,” Buckler told Sportscar365. “For three years in a row we really got screwed on this rain tire situation with the tire incapable of doing its job but this year it really bit many teams in GTD hard.

“In 2015, we had a major failure in the wet/drying conditions and it destroyed the front of our car. In 2016, exactly the same thing happened again and those tires blew up on the banking and sawed the car apart and caused one of my drivers to leave.

“But this year it was just too much. It destroyed our race and a good part of our program. We finished 13 laps [down], ten of them were because the four flats and the rest from the mystery inconstancies.

“Do I want to build a several million [dollar] program, buy equipment, hire the best guys and have our whole world pivot around tires that are incapable of the task at hand?”

Buckler said the Daytona situation “mangled” his driver situation, although the team hadn’t yet announced a full-season Silver/Bronze driver alongside Porsche factory ace Wolf Henzler, who had been allocated to TRG’s program.

According to IMSA sources, the car had not been registered as a “Premium” full-season entrant.

Henzler was joined by Jan Heylen, Tim Pappas, Mike Hedlund and Santiago Creel in Daytona.

“It’s a really big blow because I had drivers that were set for North American Endurance Cup, and sponsorship and of course a huge group at Daytona,” Buckler said.

“It’s been too much to take. I’m not coming back until it’s resolved.”

Continental Tire had responded following January’s season-opener, issuing a bulletin to GTD teams, outlining the issues selected teams encountered during the overnight hours of the race and vowing to develop an all-new GTD rain tire in time for next year’s event.

According to Continental’s Travis Roffler, additional measures have been put into place for the remainder of the season, including rolling out with an updated GTD wet tire at Sebring that has “robust changes” to the upper shoulder.

Additionally, as a good-will gesture, Roffler said they will take back and replace all unused GTD wet tires in teams’ inventory free of charge, while offering a credit for two sets of tires at Sebring for each GTD team that competed at Daytona.

“Were we ecstatic with the tire we brought to Daytona? No. Are we prepared to do everything and anything in our power to make it better? Absolutely,” Roffler told Sportscar365.

“The safety of the teams and drivers are always at the forefront of our mind. There’s nothing more than these teams trusting their equipment and drivers to our product.

“We do not take that responsibility lightly at all, and I take offense to anybody who thinks that we do, and that the product we’re putting out there is anything but the best effort we put forward for the conditions and [series-mandated] cost-containment measures.”

Roffler noted the GTD class-winning Alegra Motorsports Porsche, an identical car to TRG’s, did not encounter any tire issues in the race, which is understood to have been attributed to the team running to the recommended tire pressures.

Continental is contracted by IMSA to produce a single-specification dry and wet tire for each class, with conditions at Daytona arguably would have favoring an intermediate option, which is not permitted in the rules.

“We’re going to continue to test and work with IMSA to make sure we have tires that are the most competitive they can be within the cost-containment rules to continue the series to be a top-level road racing series that’s financially sustainable,” Roffler added.

Buckler, meanwhile, said he plans to continue to field a Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, as the team has funded full-season drivers confirmed for the year.

52 Comments

  1. HistoricWC

    March 14, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Bring the Porsche to PWC

  2. Mo

    March 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Ok, sure, the tire issue.

  3. Luc

    March 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

    “Do I want to build a several million [dollar] program, buy equipment, hire the best guys and have our whole world pivot around tires that are incapable of the task at hand?”
    You already spent the money dude? And another Porsche wins GTD? What a load of crap. I think they are ill-prepared. And their cars always rubbish.

    • Luna

      March 14, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Multi million dollars program…. Really? From Kevin Buckley?
      We all believe that…
      He should shut up.

      • KEVIN

        March 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm

        POUND SAND

  4. Luc

    March 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

    look rubbish, I beg your pardon

  5. Just a guy

    March 14, 2017 at 8:23 am

    TRG pulls out of GTD due to no more idiots on the idiot tree!!

    • Luna

      March 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Buckler is known, very well known…
      As said, more and more difficult to find idiots going to pay for his rubbish…

  6. Mo

    March 14, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Allegra used those same tires to win the Rolex 24 as a long shot- winning a class they had no business winning

  7. juneracer

    March 14, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Buckee seems to keep finding clients, impressive. at Daytona if you start your pressures too low you can have issues, thats not new. like others have said, Allegra didn’t seem to have issues with the same base car and identical tires. that kind of points the finger for the issues to Buckee…

  8. JD

    March 14, 2017 at 9:16 am

    The same car on the same tires won the race without an issue. Maybe TRG just got some bad tires. But more likely, like 99% of tire problems in motorsports, TRG was going beyond recommended setup and pushing the envelope.

    • The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      March 14, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Or the multitude of pay drivers on his staff couldn’t come up with a check that cleared. Let’s go Occam’s razor here.

  9. Mark Twain

    March 14, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Looks like somebody realized that they weren’t as good as the competition and didn’t want to pay for it…

  10. Nick

    March 14, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I don’t remember seeing an Aston get destroyed by the rain tires last year at Daytona.

    • KEVIN

      March 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      it broke down in jolly england

  11. Passin theTaurus~

    March 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Why’s Buckler so hated? What did I miss? He’s been in this game a long time, won D24 in a 911.

    • Ridin tha Bull

      March 14, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Not to mention; overall.

    • Doug

      March 14, 2017 at 10:59 am

      If you listen to a few racing podcasts and comments from drivers you might find the answer to your question…

    • Noel

      March 14, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I also am confused, I haven’t been following IMSA as long as others, maybe someone can fill me in?

      • The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

        March 14, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        You happen to notice that no one ever does business with him for long, over his nearly 2 decade span as a team? Answers your question right there.

        • joel

          March 14, 2017 at 4:28 pm

          his wine is tastee, the michelinman

        • Mikey

          March 15, 2017 at 10:30 am

          The Ghost of Buckshot Jones? That is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Any old school NASCAR fan will appreciate that hahahahahhaah

  12. Floridafan

    March 14, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Interesting comment by Continental Tire and completely inaccurate as the Allegra Team FOR SURE did experience similar tire problems and I believe even had a tire failure or 2 but probably got lucky on how it happened and how it was managed and who was driving,, Continental knows this FOR SURE so why would they lie??? Makes you wonder about these guys

    • Doug

      March 14, 2017 at 11:17 am

      Just sent a txt to my buddy at Oakville who works on this car – he’ll fill me in. But I don’t believe you are correct. I don’t recall one blow out on their car. I think they had a cut tire from running over debris after a crash in the bus stop.

  13. oldracer

    March 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

    TRG and Buckler have been doing a really good job at this race for a long time… not sure who these naysayers are but they should check their facts… I’ve been watching them get it done for 20 years and they are a very popular team

  14. juneracer

    March 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Buckee is known for some questionable deals and some ethics. its general knowledge around the paddock. this isn’t a new 2017 thing. a lot of crew wont work for him and he’s had a bit of a revolving door of pay drivers over the years. you got to hand it to him, he does keep in going…somehow…

    • Passin theTaurus~

      March 14, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      3GTRG possibly??

  15. pierre

    March 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

    ohhhh offering two sets of wets… yay…

  16. Gary

    March 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Not sure who Juneracer is but my son has worked for TRG off and on for years and I have been in there padock area many many times. They are a quality group of people from top to bottom. They always take extra time with the kids and the fans and last time I checked they been in this crazy business about longer than anyone, so they must be doing something right

    • Cactus Tony

      March 15, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      “…quality group from top….must be doing something right.”

      Ask TMB Creative about that. Or Andy Lally. Or Landon Cassill. Or…

  17. Matt

    March 14, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    “Tires issues”?? Then come to PWC. Buckler has run the most inconsistent programs the past 5 years.

  18. joel

    March 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    those tires were junk, the michelinman

  19. joel

    March 14, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    buckler only one the overall at daytona in 2004. he knows how to spend the money to win, not with junk spec tires

    • joel

      March 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      or 2002. thank you DR.PORSCHE

    • Olly

      March 14, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      2003 to be exact.

  20. KEVIN

    March 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    bring me the falkens, WOLF H.

  21. Luna

    March 14, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Let’s stop to give so much space and importance to such a clown like Buckler.

    • KEVIN

      March 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      YOU GET A FREE CASE OF WINE,WINE,WINE

  22. The Brad

    March 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Sounds like Continental is doing due diligence to not only improve the tire but give some re-compensation. Many teams had punctures, another team with the same car WON the class. Sounds OK to me.

  23. Jeff Wagner

    March 15, 2017 at 7:13 am

    GREAT to see another team standing up and bringing more attention to this NASCAR/Grand-Am legacy created problem. The Continental tires have been a performance/quality issue for over 10 years and it will continue until the entire series corrects the rules to the same as GTLM and has an open tire choice for all the teams in all classes. NO TEAM in the WORLD with an open tire choice runs Continental for a reason. This is the last remaining bastard from Grand-Am that must be corrected for our Sportscar Racing to be taken seriously by the rest of the world!!! (I’m not a troll or trolling, I’m a passionate Spotscar Racing fan, I bleed it, and this issue really bothers me. The teams, drivers, and fans know better, and deserve better).

    • Troll Me

      March 15, 2017 at 9:12 am

      No, you’re an elitist.

      Shut the fuck up.

      • Jeff Wagner

        March 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm

        #1 I use my real name. #2 The truth hurts. #3 I used facts to support my opinion. EX:Continental tires have been a performance/quality issue for over 10 years and will continue until open tire choice is implemented, EX: NO TEAM in the WORLD with an open tire choice runs Continental for a reason, EX: This is the last remaining bastard from Grand-Am that must be corrected for our Sportscar Racing to be taken seriously, EX:I’m not a troll or trolling, I’m a passionate Spotscar Racing fan, I bleed it, and this issue really bothers me. The teams, drivers, and fans know better, and deserve better. If you have sour grapes that you can’t watch DP’s while sitting in wooden grandstand seats at some ratty roval with 4,179 other fans don’t vent it on me. LOL. Not having open tire choice is the last mess left over from the ALMS buyout that needs to be corrected and the fans need to SPEAK UP TOO, SUPPORT THE DRIVERS/TEAMS AND ADD TO THE DEBATE!!!

      • Larry

        March 15, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        No, Troll, you have no idea what you are talking about.

        As Jeff noted, nowhere does any pro team run Continentals when they have a choice.

        I have had Contis on one of my Porsches……..ONCE. Scary as hell, especially in the rain.

        He’s not an elitist, he is just stating the facts but your chosen signature “troll” is quite telling.

        And you don’t get to tell anyone to “shut the fuck up”.

  24. juneracer

    March 15, 2017 at 7:47 am

    its a paid sponsorship. just like Pirelli in the series they support, including F1. its a way for the series to make money. its up to IMSA to push for change when competitors are unhappy. what GT3 series doesn’t have a control tire?

  25. Floridafan

    March 15, 2017 at 7:54 am

    It’s a paid sponsorship agreed but doesn’t the tire company have some sort of basic responsibility? All of you posting here do know that over half the teams in GTD had major tire issues, correct? My son was reading the live streaming\tweeting during the race and the drivers were screaming bloody murder about the crap tires and the blowups. Buckler is right 100% and maybe got the shorter end of the deal but if you were forced to use a tire that the series made you use and then the tire blew-
    what do you do?

  26. oldracer

    March 15, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Well Y’all,did a little digging as we had friends there in the pits the whole time. Apparently the place was a mess and the GT teams and the drivers were screaming about not being able to even drive on the Continental tires and apparently half the field had blowups!! So it sounds like it’s just coming to light.
    this could get interesting

  27. gary

    March 15, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Yeah,if it fell hard on Buckler that probably hurts as he is an independent.

    Sorry guys but for everybody in my world and our club, TRG/Bucklr is a rock star and has always been. Always represents everything well and even finds a way to win once in a while,like a lot and not always with the best stuff .

  28. Nate B

    March 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Translation: “we didn’t get anyone to pay for the season so let’s blame someone else.”

    I understand why it’s done, but there’s no need to throw a major supplier and series supporter that hard under the bus to pass the buck.

  29. Mike S.

    March 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    1. The goal as much as I don’t like a one tire contracted for cars is to save costs and to keep budgets down from a resulted a tire war. I get that. That is the reason behind the one tire brand contracts. that was mentioned. F1, Indycar NASCAR all do it. Not sure how long it goes but nothing can be done unless a breech has been made by Conti. Not a battle IMSA would take on in the middle of the season anyway.

    2. The timing of this departure from TRG is interesting. A ploy closer to Sebring to bring light to said issues? Why not just a few days after D24 pull the plug?

    3. Conti isn’t a new company but is relatively new compared to Good Year, Michelin, Dunlop to racing. Not giving them a break as they did seem to admit some fault as they did make changes. We don’t know the other side as many have mentioned many teams went outside the specifications allowed. If so our chances go up for flats. Debris will cut any tire so that’s a non starter.

    4. Wolf Henzler might, no probably is, no is the best driver in the rain. So, that had to be a factor from TRG as Henzler’s experience and knowledge in rain and as a factory Porsche driver had to be a testament to the issues.

    5. Conti. gets a break this weekend. Sunny and warm, no rain forecast.

    • Jeff Wagner

      March 15, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      #3 is another reason to support open tire choice in all classes. Continental would be forced to get better if they were pushed by other tire manufacturers and shown up badly.

  30. Jeff Wagner

    March 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Don’t forget the P2 cars with top drivers were having to go as slow as possible and still were sliding off the track after making pit stops. We all know it was cold too and P2 cars have to be pushed to use the aero grip, but going as slow as they were and still sliding off the track was really bad too!

    • Mike S.

      March 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Oh yeah any rainy full race and GT cars will win overall in the wet. Happens a lot. Things have been wet out West this winter. Long Beach may be rainy in early April. Would be great to witness a GT winning.

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