Frequently humorous Magnus Racing left fuming after VIR exclusion

Photo: Magnus Racing
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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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.