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Grand-Am’s Lally Says He Needs A Major Dose Of Victory

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 17 2013

Andy Lally says its time to win a race. (Photo courtesy of the Grand-Am Rolex Series)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The gray clouds that produced rain and gloom at Kansas Speedway on Thursday lifted on Saturday as unseasonably comfortable sunny weather settled back in. Except around the paddock space occupied by Andy Lally. There, an irritating chill persisted.

Lally, who co-drives the No. 44 Porsche GT3 Cup car of Magnus Racing, has problems than only winning a Grand-Am Rolex Series race will cure.

“It’s been a very frustrating season,” Lally said as he stood near his team’s compound at Kansas, site of Saturday night’s inaugural FSP Grand Prix. “It has not been good from the get-go.”

Odd words when you consider that Lally and co-driver / team owner  John Potter are leading the GT point standings and that they have mounted the GT podium five times in 2013. Four of those top-three finishes have been of the runner-up variety.

But points leads and near-victories are not what thrills Lally, a 38-year-old native of Northport, N.Y. Not with three races to go in the season.

In fact, Lally, who also served a stint in NASCAR, where he was rookie of the year in 2011, says the second-place finishes only contribute to his frustration.

“I look at my season in terms of wins or championships,” Lally said. “Last year, we came off winning the two biggest races in the Rolex series (the Daytona 24 and the Brickyard Grand Prix) and taking home the championship in the first ever GT Endurance Championship.

“This year, we’ve got our eyes on a different prize. And we haven’t won one yet and that is really, really getting to me.”

Lally and the No. 44 car will take a seven-point lead over the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GTR being driven by Robin Liddell and John Edwards.

Behind the Camaro are more teams and drivers within striking distance of the lead and the points championship.

After Friday’s afternoon practice, Lally did not sound terribly optimistic that his first, intensely sought victory of the season would come at the brand new Kansas 2.370-mile infield “roval”.

Not even after his car posted the second fastest lap (112.315 mph) in the afternoon session – the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 of Leh Keen and  Allesandro Balzon had fastest GT lap at 112.352 mph.

Lally said that his team has been forced into taking “unconventional measures” and “weird things” with the setup at Kansas because of the tire that Continental brought to the new track.

He said the tire has to be “build so strong for an oval (the Kansas track utilizes the backstretch, turns 1 and 2 – which are progressively banked up to 20 degrees – and the front-stretch trioval before diving into the infield in Turn 1), but any time you build a tire that is that strong for an oval, you very rarely stick it for hairpins. We got really, really incredibly tight hairpins down here and then really fast high-compression corners so you have to err on the side of safety so I give it to Continental for that but they’ve got a really tough job ahead of them in that nobody is happy – except for maybe the Ferraris – on the infield here.”

Lally said he thinks his Porsche can be fast for spurts at Kansas, but probably not for an entire 2.75-hour race.

Lally’s team was also forced to make an engine change before Friday night’s qualifying session. The team performed the change in less than three hours. Potter rolled the car out for the session and put in a best qualifying lap of 1:16.498, good for eighth on the grid.

Perhaps the clouds will lift for Lally in a couple weeks at Laguna Seca or in the season finally at Lime Rock on Sept. 28.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 17 2013
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