• Lally joins Rolex 24 elite with fifth class victory


    Andy Lally moved into elite company with his fifth class victory in the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    He’s now tied for fourth on the all-time list with Bob Wollek, trailing only Scott Pruett (10), Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg (six each).

    “[Winning the Rolex 24] even two times was big,” Lally said. “Three times was big, four times was big, now five times—wow, I didn’t know if I would ever see the day.”

    Lally admitted he didn’t believe he was in such elite company on the all-time Daytona winners’ list.

    “I figured I’d be 10th on the list, or something like that,” Lally said. “Being up there with Pruett, Haywood, Gregg and Wollek is pretty cool.

    “But Pruett with 10?! Wow, that really blows my mind. That’s so cool for Scott.”

    Lally’s fifth Rolex 24 victory came at the wheel of an unfamiliar car. He was racing an Audi for the first time – more specifically, the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 co-driven by John Potter, René Rast and Marco Seefried.

    Lally earned his first Rolex Cosmograph Daytona when he anchored Mike Johnson’s Archangel Motorsports’ winning SRP II lineup in a Nissan Lola.

    “That was a brand-new car, that had never run a 24-hour race before,” Lally said. “We won it by a bunch of laps, and that’s because we played it smart. I was the only pro in the car, and none of the gentlemen drivers wanted to drive in the rain. Since it was raining most of the race, I wound up doing the most driving I ever did in a 24 hours, something like 13 hours.”

    He won with Kevin Buckler’s TRG in 2009 and 2011, driving Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars. Justin Marks, Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and RJ Valentine co-drove in 2009, with Spencer Pumpelly, Steven Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan and Wolf Henzler sharing in the triumph two years later.

    “I couldn’t say 2009 was an easy one, but we had it well sorted out,” he recalled. “But in 2011 we lost the clutch around 10 hours, and we had to drive 14 hours with no clutch – meaning we would rev the engine leaving the pits while the guys were pushing, and hopefully it would spin the tires enough to leave the pit stall.”

    None of the victories came easily; but of his prior Rolex 24 triumphs, 2012 was the most memorable.

    “2012 was the 50th running, and we had quite a scrap,” recalled Lally, who co-drove the Magnus Racing Porsche with John Potter, Rene Rast and Richard Lietz. “We had five guys on the lead lap right down to the last hour. We were only in the lead by about two seconds, but the guy who was pressuring us had a little off-course excursion. We ended up winning by five or six seconds.”

    Now, last weekend’s victory ranks right up there with the 50th as a real nail-biter. Franz Konrad’s No. 28 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 passed Rast and took the lead in the final nine minutes, only to run out of fuel with only three minutes remaining.

    “It seems it gets tougher every year,” said Lally. IMSA.COM


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