DAYTONA, Fla, (January 30, 2023) – For the third time in four years, Magnus Racing has celebrated a job well done at the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona, but from second place. Last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, the team kicked of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a 24-hour professional sports car racing endurance event, racing the No. 44 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. With the support of their hard-working crew in pit lane, drivers John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, and Nicki Thiim put in an incredible, almost-perfect performance to finish second in the 24-hour endurance race.
When Magnus Racing with Flex-Box entered the Rolex 24 At Daytona, it was obvious early on the team had a strong Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and an impressive driver lineup to contend for the first win of the 2023 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. After finishing in second place in 2020 and 2022, the team felt more determination than ever to claim a third victory to go with their 2012 and 2016 wins at the iconic event.
The day before the main WeatherTech race was set to begin, Pumpelly and Potter each competed in Friday’s four-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race, and both celebrated a podium finish together at the end. Pumpelly fought from the back of the field to second place with team BGB in the GS class. Potter was called up an hour prior to the race to drive the Aston Martin GT4, replacing another driver. With co-driver Jon Branam, the pair took a win in the GS-B category with team TR3, the first of two bronze honors Potter would earn over the weekend.
For Saturday’s Rolex 24, John Potter produced an impressive qualifying effort to set up the No. 44 Aston Martin Vantage to start 11th in the 23-car field. His strong pace on the start moved the car up two positions in the GTD class in the 61-car field. His opening stint set the tone for the race, with strong, clean laps to move the car into the top ten before beginning a cycle-through of all four drivers. Five-time Rolex 24 winner Lally was next to get behind the wheel, bringing the car up to fourth place with three hours complete. Aston Martin factory driver Nicki Thiim took over next and climbed to second place with ten hours clocked in, and eventually to the lead before the end of his stint. They raced into the night and past the halfway point, calmy and methodically maintaining position to keep the car in the lead pack.
The team persisted through minimal setbacks to stay near the front of the field. Two pitstops ran longer than normal due to a fueling issue, and the team also received a stop-and-hold penalty for running the red light at the exit of pit lane. Despite the mishaps, Magnus Racing with Flex-Box stayed on the lead lap and continued to reel in the No. 27 Aston Martin and No. 57 Mercedes AMG GT3 cars ahead in first and second place. In the final two hours, the green flag racing was consistently interrupted with full-course cautions, only turning up the intensity leading up to the checker flag. In the end, it all came down to a 30-minute sprint with Thiim piloting the final push for the team. The Danish fan-favorite brought the No. 44 Aston Martin to second place, earning the team their third second-place finish in four years.
The race marked a special occasion for five-time race winner Lally, who on Saturday became the driver with the most consecutive starts, having raced in every Rolex 24 At Daytona since 2003.
Magnus Racing races again in Florida next for the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the second of four endurance events in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The March 15-18 event will include all five classes in the championship, racing for twelve hours on an old army air force base in Sebring, Florida. For event information, visit imsa.com.
With a second place two years in a row, it feels like always the bridesmaid, rarely the bride. But honestly, after we were running worse than second at various times in the race, it really gave perspective to help us appreciate a second-place results. All the drivers drove great. Nicki brought it home at the end, and a special shout out goes out to Flex-Box for helping us be here to fight for the win.
This is our third second-place finish in four years, and that is just an amazing testament to how hard this crew works and how thorough and professional they are, and we owe everything to them for their ability to provide us when top-notch equipment that we beat the snot out of for 24 hours. A big thank you goes to Aston Martin for making such a great car and to Flex-Box for partnering with us in this endeavor.
It was just another phenomenal run by Magnus Racing with Flex-Box. We got Andy, John, and Nicki. Everyone just did an amazing job in the car. We had a really good car. We were really excited about when the race started and watching the guys bring it through the field and to be a part of it. It was amazing. I have to thank all the guys in the box and the over the wall that really just didn’t miss a beat the entire time. When you come racing with Magnus in the 24 hour, the experience that we have, from drivers to the engineers, to the crew is second to none. I think that’s a lot of reasons why this gets to be an annual event here, hanging out at the podium. I’m going to savor every bit of it. It’s another second-place. We’re starting to collect too many of those and not enough wins. However, I’m not going to let that stop me from spraying champagne in Daytona.
It was not a bad weekend out here in Daytona Beach. Right now, 10 minutes after race, I’m a little bit disappointed to be honest. Second-place was a tough pill to swallow, but for the team, I’m so happy. It was the second year in a row they finished second. So they’re definitely good doing a brilliant job, and I’m happy to be a part of it. We had a really good package for this race. In the end, it was just a few seconds we missed for the win. Maybe next year.