ALMS - Miller Racing Porsche Leads But Race Ends Prematurely - Long Beach
LONG BEACH, April 17, 2011: The Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach was another demonstration of the highs and lows of motorsports for the No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche 911 GT3 RSR team from Paul Miller Racing and co-drivers Bryce Miller and Sascha Maassen.
After a strong, eighth-place qualifying performance yesterday, Maassen quickly moved up to seventh in the early stages of the race before an off-sequence pit stop under the race's first full-course caution period for fuel dropped him momentarily back to 13th in the running order. However, it was clear from the ensuing restart that the No. 48 Porsche on Yokohama tires was hooked up as the German racer quickly managed to regain all the positions he lost through the pit stop.
In fact, the off-sequence stop enabled Maassen to drive the car all the way into the lead in just the team's second American Le Mans Series event as the GT leaders pitted ahead of him. When the hoped for full-course caution period did not materialize, Maassen brought the car back onto pit road with just under an hour remaining in the race to turn the car over to Miller following a job well done.
"Coming from Sebring, we were struggling a lot," Maassen said. "Now here, everything looked so much better. We were in the ballpark and we could fight for positions with Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs and Ferraris. It was a lot of fun to be competitive.
"Leading the race is, of course, always fun. We might not have the peak of the others but in the average lap times, we were doing the same as the others. That was very, very promising. You have to just consider that we are a new team and we have not tested really. Normally, testing helps and I hope it helps us too. It looks good."
Miller took over the black, white and silver Porsche and rejoined the fight in seventh position. He ran comfortably in that position and a solid, top-10 result was in sight with less than 20 minutes remaining in the race. Unfortunately, contact from behind by one of the Corvettes sent Miller hard into the concrete barrier at Turn 8, terminally damaging the Porsche's left front and rear and robbing the team of a hard-earned result. Miller and Maassen wound up 12th in the GT class.
"Every outing, every practice, every race, this team is getting better," Bryce Miller said. "We're learning more about the tire and the tire is getting better. It's very encouraging what's going on here in our own team. It's really unfortunate, because everyone here deserves a lot better than this. The Yokohama held up really well for us today and certainly this tire deserves a better result than this also.
"I'm really disappointed. The way in which this ended for us was really unnecessary. We were taken out by the Corvette and it left a lot of damage, a lot of expense, and a lot of hard work for our team. We're just lucky that we have a break in the schedule to go to work and fix all this. I guess it's a character building experience for our team. They're just going to have to rebound and we're just going to have to get over it and bounce back. Right now, it stings quite a bit."
Despite a bitter taste from how the race ended, Miller was obviously pleased with the performance the team showed throughout the weekend at Long Beach. He was especially proud to see the No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC colors flying at the head of the field.
"It was a great moment," he said. "We stepped out of the box and made a pit strategy call that afforded us some positions and it was the right call. It felt very good to be on this end of the spectrum. The hope was to just bring the car home and maintain the positions that we had gained. We had some good margin between some of the cars that we were competing against behind us. It was just about consistency and bringing the result home. Again, the team deserved a lot better and I feel bad, but I know there is a lot of promise here and a lot of potential. There's a lot still yet to come for us."
Next up for the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche ALMS team is the American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on Saturday, July 9.