Friday, July 28, 2017

The "Great" dilemma

Or the "Magnus" dilemma. It's really the same thing. Since leaving the Weathertech championship, Magnus Racing has been fielding 2 cars in Pirelli World Challenge. An R8 LMS for team owner John Potter in the GTA class, and another for Audi factory driver Pierre Kaffer in the all professional GT class, where many other brands have their works drivers battling it out. But Kaffer has a few European race conflicts with PWC such as this weekend when he is at Spa for the 24hrs. Enter Spencer Pumpelly.

The team's part time driver Spencer Pumpelly, who has driven less rounds than Kaffer is placed higher in the driver standings. Any significant results he achieves in this weekend's double header round at Mid Ohio could give the team something to think about. Pumpelly could possibly land on the podium or finish in the top 5-10 in either or both races. 

Pierre Kaffer is no slouch, he has been relied on by many quality or well funded racing outfits; driving an Audi R8 LMP1 at Le mans in 2004 with Allan McNish and Frank Biela, a driver for Risi Competizione, and AF Corse under their PeCom racing moniker, and before this year the Bykolles WEC LMP1 team. Audi, Risi, and AF Corse appearing on his resume almost leaves you with no question of Kaffer's caliber. 

This year as an Audi factory driver he has been assigned to Magnus Racing in their factory supported #4 R8 LMS in Pirelli World Challenge, with full intentions on a championship assault (if BoP permits). The season started with some difficulty for Kaffer, finishing 19th and 15th in St Petersburg. He then finished 8th in Long Beach, an improvement over the frst 2 rounds. But not enough for a proud team working hand in hand with Brad Kettler at Audi Sport customer racing (and looking to prove that they're better than what the Weathertech championship gave them credit for).

In the Sprint X races, Kaffer was paired with Spencer Pumpelly, himself a consumate professional on the level of Kaffer, but unlike Kaffer he doesn't have factory gigs lining up his resume. Instead he has made a career of loaning himself out to wealthy racing enthusiasts and privateer team owners for Pro-Am championships jaunts.

Together Kaffer and Pumpelly have finished 28th and 5th in the VIR double header, and 5th again at CTMP (the Mosport name is better). The kicker was that when Kaffer was on his European racing duties for Audi in Blancpain, the team drafted in Dane Cameron for the Lime rock Sprint X double header. There they finished 2nd and 1st, the best points haul for any team that weekend, and no doubt reminding themselves they're one of the best groups out there. If Pumpelly distances himself substantially from Kaffer in the points standings this weekend, the thought of finishing out the season with him will surely cross the mind of some in the team. For those dramatically inclined Dane Cameron does not have Cadillac DPi duty for the next 2 Sprint X rounds in Utah and Texas.

In truth it will not be that easy to simply boot Pierre Kaffer out of the #4 car. There are contracts and agreements in place that must be taken into consideration. 

The results are better when Kaffer pairs up with Pumpelly, even better when Pumpelly pairs up with Cameron. Now the team will get to see how pumpelly gets on solo in the car. If he gives the team very solid results or a reason to celebrate in either race, Kaffer's return to the Magnus racing paddock could be quite awkward.