The Story Behind That Second Place

04 January 2001

John Graham drove the #15 Dick Barbour Porsche at Adelaide. Here he tells the story behind that excellent runner up spot (with Randy Wars and Christian Menzel).

Our race was very controlled. We knew that the car was very solid as it had been completely rebuilt after Oliver Gavin had tried to redesign at the Petit Le Mans, and it was also the first time that Christian and I had ever driven a GT3 Porsche; Randy Wars had some time in the car at prior ALMS events.

Very little fine tuning was done to the car as the crew had done an excellent job setting it up. As expected, the other two team cars dominated in qualifying, followed by the BMWs. Christian qualified the car in a solid 7th, and we knew that if we held our position and ran a consistent pace, we would be able to move up.

The concerning factor would be the heat, but it never really got that hot. Christian started the race and drove for one and a half hours, followed by Randy. Earlier in the season, Randy hurt his wrist and it started to bother him during his shift, so wisely he came in early and I took over. The car was running great with no problems, and the traffic seem to be very respectful of the Dick Barbour car, which I assume was a result of the professional manner of our team cars. I drove for about one hour and thirty-five minutes, and turned the car back over to Christian, by which time we were now in 4th place in class.

Christian again reeled of a great shift, moving the car up to third position, and I was advised that I would be getting back in the car after him. My conditioning was good, so I wasn't worried. About 10 laps in to the final session the team advised me that we had moved to second and that the #6 BMW was two laps behind and coming.

All was going well until with about 45 minutes to go, as I entered the Banana Curves, I saw the oil flag, as I exited I found the oil, as I turned in on the next right the back of the car came around. I managed to keep the engine running, and the marshals did a great job in warning the oncoming traffic. A few cars went by before I got the car turned around and going, one of them was the #6 BMW, now only down one lap. The next time by where I had spun, a Panoz was in the wall and out came the safety car.

Now with 28 minutes to go we were ready to get back to green flag racing and the BMW, a lap down, was behind us ready for the restart. I knew that with the time on our side we could maintain our position. Soon the #6 car was fighting to get by and at the end of the straight he dove down the inside. I knew that it would be less pressure to have him in front of me and I could follow him but still maintain control of our position. To my surprise, after he passed me, he dove into the pits, with about 18 minutes to go he was again on my bumper and at this point it was easy to wave him by as only an error on my part would cost us our position.

Taking the checkered flag was a great thrill, as I knew that four days earlier I had never met any of the crew, my co-drivers - or Dick Barbour for that matter. I had never driven a Porsche GT3 or seen the Adelaide track and here we were second in the toughest class, and sixth overall.

The podium was great, the crowd was second only to Le Mans. I had a chance to talk to Terry Borcheller and Anthony Lazzaro while we were waiting. They had a great late charge but the Porsche and the Dick Barbour crew had allowed us to run a controlled pace, stay out of the pits, and maintain our lead. Christian had driven a great race, and full marks to Randy for his unselfish decision and putting the teamís success ahead of his own personal goals.

It was a great way to end the year, a year that saw a victory at Le Mans in the Multimatic 675 Lola, and a return to the podium with the best team in GT.

Now all I can think about is how great a 675 car would be on that great Adelaide track?

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