Rolex Series: Pontiac GTO.R Records First GT Class Victory
8/13/2005 - by Beth Dolgner
8/13/2005 - by Beth Dolgner
The Pontiac GTO.R earned its first Rolex Series GT-class victory on Friday at the hands of Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen. They drove the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R to the win in only their second appearance, which was the CompUSA 200 at The Glen, the series' second visit to the historic Watkins Glen venue this season.
The Prototype Technology Group BMW M3s had been the dominant cars during practice and qualifying, and at the start of the two hour race it did not appear that anything had changed. Justin Marks went into the lead in the pole-sitting No. 16 F1 Air M3. He was followed by his teammate Tom Milner in the No. 21 BMW.
After ten laps of the BMWs running one-two, the No. 26 AASCO Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup took over the second spot. The pass came just before the first caution period, which prompted a few pit stops. Among the cars to come to pit lane was the No. 64 GTO.R, with Edwards allowing Magnussen to take over the wheel.
After the green flag came out again, the No. 21 BMW and the No. 26 Porsche were still swapping for the second spot while the No. 16 of Marks continued to lead the class.
The top three remained the same, with the AASCO Porsche finally securing second over Milner's No. 21 BMW, as the race neared the halfway mark. Things changed drastically, however, when Milner and Will Nonnamaker in the No. 41 Team Sahlen Porsche GT3 Cup made contact in turn four. The crash left a lot of damage on course, and brought out the third full-course caution.
The timing of the caution allowed most of the GT entries to make their routine pit stop under yellow, including the No. 16 BMW. Marks gave up the lead to pit and hand the car over to Joey Hand, while the lead shuffled through a number of front-runners as they took turns pitting.
It was the No. 64 Pontiac of Magnussen that was at the front following the round of pit stops. He had stayed on course, having pitted much earlier in the race, and stayed in the lead when the race went green again with 40 minutes remaining.
Magnussen continued to lead throughout the rest of the race, although he was never able to pull away thanks to a couple more caution periods that kept the field close. Hand moved into second in the No. 16 BMW, but he was unable to give himself and Marks their second win in two races. Instead, he had to settle for the runner-up spot.
The rest of the front-running cars all dropped back as the race wound to a close, and the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup moved up. Spencer Pumpelly and John Littlechild took third, putting three different manufacturers on the podium.
The top five included Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R and Chris Gleason and Ian James in the No. 22 PTG BMW M3.