Pumpelly Takes Home Top Five in World Challenge Sprint-X Debut

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ALTON, Va. (May 3, 2017) – Making his debut with Magnus Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint-X Championship, Spencer Pumpelly partnered with Pierre Kaffer to finish fifth in Sunday’s race at VIRginia International Raceway.
 
Pumpelly is no stranger to Pirelli World Challenge, however this year the series has rolled out a new format dubbed Sprint-X. In this format, cars are shared by two drivers for a 60-minute race with a mandatory driver change. There are three sub-groups within the race: one for an all-professional driver lineup, one for a professional and amateur driver lineup and a third for an all-amateur lineup.
 
The Magnus Racing No. 4 Audi RS8 LMS was fast straight off the trailer, with Pumpelly setting the fastest time in the Friday afternoon practice session.


 
“The car was really good,” Pumpelly said. “Magnus Racing is one of the top teams in the world. They were able to get the Audi working very well. We tested at VIR previously and even though the temperatures were cooler, I was hoping what we learned would translate to the race week and sure enough, it did. Lars, the engineer and all guys on the team did a fantastic job prepping the car and we were really happy with it right out of the box.”
 
Kaffer qualified the car fourth for Saturday’s race and was assigned starting duties. The German kept the car with the lead pack throughout his stint, but just prior to pitting for the driver change, he was hit by the No. 31 Ferrari in the Esses. The hit damaged the Audi and kept it on pit lane for an extended period of time while repairs were made. When Pumpelly returned to the circuit, he was five laps behind the leader.
 
“After the race, the Magnus guys replaced a rear control arm, a front control arm, the front side of the splitter and some of the side skirts to get us track-ready for Sunday,” Pumpelly explained. ”When we saw the replay afterwards, it was clear the No. 41 car came into Pierre like he wasn’t even there. That contact caused him to go flying off the road. He was lucky not to hit anything. Unfortunately, the stewards ruled the No. 31 car didn’t do anything wrong and it went on and won the race.”
 
Prior to Sunday’s race all World Challenge drivers sat down for an autograph session with fans. Those who picked swung by the Magnus Racing table picked up a special Leaders of the WORLD Challenge edition autograph card.
 
“One of the fun things about being with Magnus Racing is you never know what kind of PR stunts they’re going to pull,” Pumpelly laughed. “If racing doesn’t work out for me in the future, maybe I can be the Senate Majority Leader…”
 
The grid for Sunday’s race is set by each car’s fastest race lap in Saturday’s race and luckily, Kaffer was able to set a lap quick enough for third on the grid, prior to getting hit. This time, Pumpelly would take the opening stint.
 
“At the start, my plan was to stick behind [polesitter] Jeroen Bleekemolen, but he didn’t get through Turn One as fast as I’d hoped,” Pumpelly recalled. “The outside lane went a little faster, so I dropped to fourth. I ran there through my entire stint.”
 
The team executed a textbook driver change to Kaffer who finished out the race. He struggled with a brake issue through the close of the race, but was able to hold onto fifth place at the checkered flag.
 
“It was a good weekend because we were competitive throughout all the sessions,” Pumpelly said. “To get a win in this category is going to be tough, because there’s a lot of carnage and a lot of penalties and things like that. Sometimes it’s in our control and sometimes it’s not, but I’m optimistic we can win a bunch of these races moving forward.”
 
The first two rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint-X season will air on CBS Sports Network, Sunday, May 7, at 6pm ET.
 
The next Sprint-X round will take place May 19 – 21 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Mosport, Ontario, Canada. Prior to that, Pumpelly will be in action at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, where he’ll drive the No. 17 Rennsport One Porsche Cayman in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

 

 

 photos by Regis Lefebure