Magnus Racing is known as much for its humorous, biting, witty, and often satirical press releases either going into or coming out of a race event, as it is its attention to detail, preparation and performance on track.
But for the Salt Lake City, Utah-based team, what happened post-race at VIRginia International Raceway was no laughing matter. And it now looks set to raise some eyebrows about where the team goes next.
The cliff notes version is that Magnus’ pair of Andy Lally and John Potter took their No. 44 Audi R8 LMS to a third place finish in the GT Daytona class at VIR.
Owing to a minimum ride height infraction, Magnus wasn’t just docked a position or two, it was excluded from the race altogether.
And it took the pair from eight points back unofficially (267-259) to now 40 points back (268-228), and all but mathematically eliminated from the championship.
Upon a look of video, the Magnus car was hit by the – get this, lone remaining Porsche in GTD in the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R – on the opening lap (see below).
And with that contact ultimately being the trigger point that led to the exclusion, which the team said was just over 1 millimeter, it knocked the team from the results entirely.
“Disappointment is not the right word, I’m flat out shocked with how this whole affair has been treated,” said Potter, who’s Magnus’ team owner and co-driver. “We’re the first people to advocate for rules being followed, we have zero history of disqualification, and within IMSA’s own precedent we were able to demonstrate what led to the ride height failure, and yet this is all just being ignored and we’re basically not able to contend for a championship we’ve fought hard for.
“This isn’t just a decision that takes away a podium, this is a decision that ruins an entire season’s worth of work, over something that is both debatable and with a completely disproportionate punishment.
“While we do appreciate IMSA’s efforts over the last two days to re-evaluate, we are fundamentally upset with how this has been handled and the inability to do anything about it.”
A much deeper reaction from the team, via its website, is linked here for further reading.
Where does Magnus go from here? That’s the next question.
There have been two recent withdrawals from IMSA in GTD, one more high-profile than the other. The WeatherTech-backed Alex Job Racing Porsche team opted to pass over the final three GTD weekends of the year citing Balance of Performance concerns, and will instead run the last two weekends in Pirelli World Challenge with two cars. Park Place Motorsports also skipped VIR for the same reason, but is set to return next week at Circuit of The Americas.
Magnus – and this could just be open posturing – is now into the “exploring its options” stage of the season, as is common, to determine where it races next.
Potter told Sportscar365 in a Tuesday post, “I’m considering all options and I’m not just saying that as a cop-out. My mind is up in the air, and [PWC and WEC] are options, but theoretically so is IMSA. I’m not excluding either.
“This whole stuff came up at an interesting time of year. It came right before the decision time for next year. I do find myself in a more confused position than I have in the past.”
It’s interesting timing, indeed, for Magnus – which attempted to make light of the Ryan Lochte robbing controversy and the WeatherTech/Park Place withdrawals by “adding him to the team” in the team’s VIR pre-race advance.
But perhaps ironically, like with Lochte himself, we have no idea what’s next in this story.