ILMC - Miller's Potential Podium Run Derailed Early In TOTAL 24 Hours Of Spa
SUMMIT, August 2, 2011: Bryce Miller has a knack for finding his way to the podium in 24-hour races, as evidenced by the fact that he's already done it three times in his relatively brief sports-car racing career.
In January, Miller finished second in the GT class in the Daytona 24 Hours for his second runner-up result in the prestigious Central Florida enduro to go with a second-place run in 2008. Miller also claimed a second-place trophy in the 2009 TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa, and returned to the world-renowned Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium last week looking for yet another podium result.
The 29-year-old American joined forces with one of Europe's strongest Porsche teams in ProSpeed Competition and co-drivers Paul Van Splunteren, Nicolas De Crem and Ludovic Sougnez. The No. 74 NEC/Chopard Porsche 911 GT3-R was easily among the favorites for victory in the Pro-Am Cup class, and Sougnez put car third on the grid in qualifying on Thursday.
On race day, Sougnez driver got a solid start and it appeared the No. 74 would be a certain podium contender. Unfortunately, the Belgian driver tangled with his ProSpeed teammate and countryman, Marc Goossens -- who was leading overall in the team's No. 75 Porsche -- in the "bus stop" chicane. The contact was enough that it removed both cars from contention for the victory inside the first hour of the race. Both attempted to continue after lengthy repairs but team owner Rudi Penders retired shortly thereafter, preventing Miller from getting an opportunity to drive in the race.
"Ludovic got back in the car and ran fast lap times, but we lost an hour making repairs," Miller said. "We ended up retiring the car because it was just too far out of contention. ProSpeed gave us a Porsche we could have put on the podium, and Ludovic showed it before his incident. We'll do it next time!"
After the race, Miller immediately returned to the U.S. to prepare for this weekend's fifth round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on Saturday. Miller will once again co-drive the No. 48 Chopard/Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for Paul Miller in the GT class alongside Sascha Maassen.