Meanwhile, the Job Porsche mechanics were the least active onlookers in the team’s pit, soldiers with a cause but little remaining duty. Dilione alternately joked and smiled with other crew members to break the tension. His back toward the track, occasionally he stood with eyes closed, bone tired and reconciled to the outcome.
Running flat out, the #24 Audi’s Felipe Albuquerque sought to build a gap, turning laps in the 1:49 range. Faulkner initially turned laps of 1:50 to conserve fuel, hoping to run to the finish. With 35 minutes left, he switched to Map 1 on the ignition to reduce consumption.
With 13 minutes to go, the Audi led by 39 seconds and Faulkner by now was turning laps of 1:56, desperately trying to save fuel and on worn tires. Behind him, the APR Audi, on fresh tires, was gaining. With ten minutes to go, the fuel strategy was doomed. The Job Porsche could not make the finish on fuel while staying ahead of those who had sacrificed track position when pitting later under green.
It was only a question of whether the #24 Audi could get a splash of fuel and retain the lead. With ten minutes remaining, Albuquerque pitted and returned to the track in front. The APR Audi gave chase on fresher tires as the Rum Bum R8 balked and eventually stopped, out of fuel. The #24 Job Audi had the margin and legs to get to the finish first among the GTs. Faulkner, meanwhile, made the race’s final pit stop one minute from the finish. The gambit to move up from sixth had left the Job Porsche back in…sixth place, last on the GT class lead lap.
The post-mortems varied, but the long faces on the Porsche side of the Job tent as they watched the #24 team celebrate its victory told a universal tale. Job himself was elated but as usual was politic except for describing Grand-Am’s scoring as crappy. “The only thing better would have been to finish first and second,” he said.
Bleekemolen, who will join McNeil in the GTC ranks of the ALMS this year, thought the team should have pursued the same strategy as the #24 car, pushing to the splash-and-dash finish. “We should have kept fighting,” he said. Faulkner, who had soldiered through despite the Grand-Am’s scoring problems, was almost dazed by the turn of fortunes when he got out. “To be in the hunt at the finish says a lot about this team. But we didn’t know where we were. I didn’t know how hard I had to go. Nobody could give me the lap times.”
Ultimately, the same fate that was kind to the Job Audi was unkind to the Porsche players. While packing up equipment, Dilione summed up the mechanic’s perspective. “That’s why,” he said, “there’s always next year.”