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Grand-Am: GTO.Rs ballasted for title run-in.
The TRG/Pontiac GTO.Rs will unload at Virginia International Raceway just a little bit heavier this weekend, following Grand-Am's decision to bestow a performance adjustment of 108lbs to the base weight of the car.
The GTO.Rs, which have proven unbeatable in recent races, will now run at 2808lbs base as Marc Bunting and Andy Lally look to take the championship lead in the GT class of the Rolex Sportscar Series. The pair turn out at the penultimate round of the year just five points out of the lead, having started the season driving a TRG Porsche 911. They switched to the Pontiac at the mid-season Daytona round, and have been able to get back into the thick of the championship on the back of some solid results, including a maiden win last time out.
“We have worked out pretty much every scenario as far as the championship goes,” Lally admitted, "When we tested at VIR three weeks ago, we were able to improve the car overall, which showed at Watkins Glen, and we were also able to get a good set-up for this weekend's race. Marc and I are going to focus on winning - if we do that, the points will take care of themselves.”
Bunting admitted that the additional weight was not what the pair had been looking for heading into the title battle, but insisted that the Pontiac would be good enough to overcome the penalty.
“Our test at VIR was really helpful, partly as I had only been there in a Porsche before, but also because I hope that it will negate the weight," he said, "We have been able to close the gap on the championship, and we have to finish high and be consistent. We can't afford mistakes or a mechanical issue at this point in the season.”
Team-mates Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen have led the GTO.R's charge, and will look to add another win and pole position to their collection at VIR.
“The weight should takes us back about three-quarters of a second on lap time,” Edwards reckoned, “Plus VIR is a long circuit and that will affect us somewhat. We weren't able to test with the weight, but the TRG and Pratt & Miller guys will have a plan, I am sure.”
TRG team owner Kevin Buckler has admitted that should he be forced to choose between his pairings, the chances of a title will be take precedence.
“We are putting our focus behind Marc and Andy for the championship,” he said, “Paul and Jan will be supporting them as much as possible throughout the rest of the season. We would like to take the lead in the points and go into Mexico ahead, as that will be a bit of an unknown to everyone.”