Andy Lally says he and co-driver John Potter be maintaining a “big picture” approach to the IMSA GT Daytona title fight despite entering next weekend’s WeatherTech 240 at Daytona as the defacto championship leaders.
The GRT Magnus duo finished runner-up in a historic 1-2 class finish for Lamborghini in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 Daytona, but with 32 points, return to Daytona as the highest-placed drivers due to Paul Miller Racing’s decision to put its program on hold.
It is one of 12 GTD cars entered for IMSA’s return to racing, in a field that has seen several planned full-season teams either skip or withdraw from the class due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation, however, hasn’t affected Lally.
“Every time I walk up to John on the grid as he’s belted into the car, one of the very last things I ever say to him before the start of each race to the point where he starts making fun of me for it, is ‘big picture,'” said Lally.
“I’ve always got that frame of mind because outside of winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, my next biggest goal every year is to try to win the championship.
“We are championship-minded until we’re out of the championship.
“Going into the second race of the season, whether we’re second place in points or first place in points, is still the same.
“I am very sad for Paul Miller racing, our buddies Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers, for not [being there]. I would rather have them there than not there as well as a handful of the other teams that aren’t going to be able to make it for extenuating circumstances.
“We’re going in just as we would whether we’re fifth or first or whatever.”
Lally and Potter’s No. 44 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo will be the only car in Daytona representing the Italian manufacturer, which also leads the GTD manufacturers’ championship after one race completed in the delayed season.
“Nobody puts more pressure on me than me,” Lally said. “I want to do well for John first, then our manufacturer, our crew, obviously, in addition to that.
“I hate losing so there is no bigger dread than looking at myself in the mirror at the end of this deal if I have not succeeded, so the pressure has been the same for the last 27 years.
“I hate myself if we don’t win but we’ve got to put our heads down and move on to the next one and stay focused so we can get another win in the future.”
Auberlen: ‘Bring the Car Home the Best it Can Be’
Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen shares a similar belief to Lally in that consistent results will help dictate the championship outcome.
It comes after a season where the veteran BMW driver believes he and Robby Foley could have won the GTD title had it not been for three costly races resulting in two DNFs.
Despite their sixth place class result in the Rolex 24, Auberlen and Foley enter the WeatherTech 240 effectively third in the 2020 GTD standings due to the Paul Miller Lamborghini, WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R all not being present for the July 4 sprint race.
“The worst thing you could do right now is DNF,” Auberlen said.
“If you look at us last year we had a DNF in Detroit, Mid-Ohio and at VIR we had a little bit of a failure to the car.
“With just those three things, if all we would have done has come home in the points, we would have won the championship or been in contention for it.
“Bobby Rahal always used to tell me, ‘When you have a third place car, bring it home a third place; don’t make it a 10th place car.’
“On any given weekend, make sure you optimize where that car can be and bring it home the best it can.
“It’s the person that after this pandemic goes back and responds and reacts the best and is not caught off guard to how to handle it now [will succeed].
“Everybody’s going to be walking around with masks, the teams are going to be segregated; people have to stay apart from each other you have to.
“You have to not be under any weird pressure, not make any mistakes and respond really well to it.”