Andy Lally says Magnus Racing is taking a clean-sheet approach to its new Lamborghini program and transition to Michelin tires for the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Lally, season-long co-driver John Potter and newly announced Michelin Endurance Cup pilot Spencer Pumpelly turned their first laps in the team’s new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo on Tuesday in Michelin’s On-Track Opportunity at Daytona International Speedway.
While it marks another change of machinery for one of America’s most versatile drivers, Lally said he’s looking forward to the challenge it brings, in what’s been a recurring theme in recent years.
“We’re looking at it as [starting from] scratch, totally,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s actually exciting. It’s neat. It’s something different.
“This will be my fifth season in a row in a different car from the prior season.
“I went Porsche, Audi, [Acura] NSX, Audi, Lamborghini. For me, there’s been no continuation from one season to the next. That’s on the tricky end a little bit, but it’s good.”
Despite having previous experience with the Italian manufacturer in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America competition, Lally said the team’s former Audi R8 LMS is actually much closer to the Huracan GT3 Evo than the Super Trofeo model, which is largely production-based.
Both the GT3-spec Audi and Lamborghinis are built off the same platform, with more than 50 percent shared parts.
“The thing that I’m most happy with is John jumped in and was very comfortable very quickly,” Lally said. “Similar to me, he was happy with the transition from the Audi to the Lambo.
“Lamborghini introduced electric steering this year, which is something that I had to deal with and help evolve on the build of the NSX, but John’s never experienced it in the cars that he’s been in.
“It’s definitely a different feel. That’ll be a bit of something that’s like the last rounded edge for him to get his speed back, but he showed up and that’s probably the quickest that he’s gotten down to that time.
“Some of that may be attributable to the Michelin, cold weather with the soft compound, that sticks pretty decent.”
Lally said that coming to grips with the new class-wide Michelins has been as much importance as the new car itself, with a large focus placed on both in the first outing.
“I was still learning the Michelin as much as I was learning the Lambo,” he said.
“Once we knew that we were changing manufacturers last year we didn’t opt in on any of the other Michelin tests, so we had done the Road Atlanta test and we did a short Watkins Glen test but that was all with [a different Michelin compound].”
Utilizing Michelin’s S8 compound at Daytona, which is expected to be confirmed for the majority of the GTD season, Lally said he was pleased with the progress made and level of support from the Italian manufacturer.
“This was a very important day for us to be able to have a low pressure session to roll out the Lamborghini and slowly get up to speed with it without being out there with 50-some other cars and worry about lap time, break in drivers, and whatnot,” he said.
“We’ve got a good group that worked hand in hand with Lamborghini since before we even took delivery of the car and it meant the first few laps were very easy.
“Chris Ward [Lamborghini Motorsport America Sr. Manager] and my engineer Andrea have been really good. I’m looking forward to [next year].”
Racing a Lamborghini an “Impressionable Feeling”
Lally said driving a Lamborghini makes for a memorable experience, on and off the track.
“I’ve raced for Porsche, I’ve raced for Audi, I’ve raced different prototypes that when you say the name, people say, ‘Oh cool!
“When people ask what do you race and you respond with Lamborghini, it’s usually an eyebrow raiser,” Lally said.
“Ever since I learned what a Lamborghini was when I watched Cannonball Run when I was five, I always thought that was pretty cool.
“So to actually race in IMSA, in the WeatherTech Championship, in a Lamborghini, that’s pretty cool.
“I was very fortunate to race with Robby Benton and Change Racing in 2015 for my first real taste of a Lamborghini [Super Trofeo] at Watkins Glen, and that was a success (winning).
“I’m looking forward to another debut with a different team to have a similar finish.”