Lime Rock – Live Race Blog

July 24, 2010

Lime Rock – Live Race Blog

July 24, 2010

Highcroft HPD fought to close the deficit to overall leaders CytoSport Porsche. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

With a half hour to go the pace of the race at Lime Rock Park has increased while cooler heads have emerged from the frantic first hour or so.

All of the leaders have completed their final round of pit stops and the heat has stayed constant, with temperatures averaging in the 90s for ambient and 110s on track.

Klaus Graf leads David Brabham, who has taken over from Simon Pagenaud, overall and in LMP. Graf has expanded the gap to more than 20 seconds at times and the gap has hovered around there ever since. The LMPC leaders, Gunnar Jeannette and Alex Figge, run third and fourth overall. Tom Papadopoulos ran one of his longest stints in ALMS after taking over the No. 52 from Figge, while Elton Julian handled the first stint in the No. 99 car. The No. 99 might need an additional pit stop to make the checkered flag.

Once the No. 61 Risi Ferrari pitted to cede the lead, it has fallen to fourth in the GT class and eighth overall. Mika Salo handed the car back to Pierre Kaffer, the team’s second driver change in as many stops. The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche with Patrick Long at the wheel now returns to the lead with the two BMWs in second and third giving chase.

Current leaders in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge are the overall leading CytoSport Porsche and No. 61 Risi Ferrari. Ten cars of 30 in that started Saturday’s race are using Cellulosic E85 ethanol, compared to zero at this race one year ago.


The No. 61 Risi Ferrari led early at Lime Rock but fell to fourth during a pit stop sequence. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

It’s been a frantic first hour and 30 minutes at the fifth round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series season at Lime Rock Park. Current leaders, the polesitting Highcroft HPD ARX 01-c being driven by Simon Pagenaud, has not yet made a visit to the pits, while second-placed Klaus Graf in the Muscle Milk Team CytoSport Porsche RS Spyder has narrowed the gap from 14 seconds down to less than one. Pagenaud is due in to the pits shortly as Graf has dramatically closed.

Thanks to an early set of pit stops on lap 15, the Rahal Letterman BMWs have leapt from ninth and 13th on the grid to first and second in GT. On a later pit sequence, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche and No. 61 Risi Competizione Ferrari fell from their leading positions to third and fourth.

Three early full course cautions took out a number of the major players, including the GT class points leaders, the No. 62 Risi Ferrari. At 25 minutes into the race the 62 made heavy contact with the Turn 1 tire barriers, after contact with the No. 3 Corvette.

The CytoSport team narrowly avoided disaster early when the three GT cars went off the road right there with Greg Pickett driving. Pickett just trailed there but also ran aground of a slower GTC Porsche at Turn 5, the first chicane.

“It was a mess out there,” Pickett said. “Without the experience I have I probably would have ran into them. The GT cars were blocking a bit and if they left a little more room, it would be easier to pass. I apologize for hitting the other car, I couldn’t see him in the distance as I was passing another one.”

In GT Pierre Kaffer led a bit in the No. 61 Risi Ferrari, upholding the team’s honor while the 62 was in the pits with substantial damage. “There were a lot of things going out there, and we were a bit lucky with one of the safety cars,” he said.

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