LMP – Michelin, Muscle Milk, Aston Martin master Long Beach

April 16, 2011

LMP – Michelin, Muscle Milk, Aston Martin master Long Beach

April 16, 2011

Lucas Luhr, Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf flash their sponsor, Muscle Milk, and the Long Beach issue of The Alley after making winning fun. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

A year ago at Long Beach, Adrian Fernandez in the Aston Martin Racing Lola Aston Martin had victory within his grasp on the last lap. Denied by a brave and daring final lap pass by Simon Pagenaud, the car finished second.

In 2011, that car jumped to the top step of the podium. Aston Martin has its first overall win in ALMS competition thanks to Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing.

The team that now campaigns that Lola Aston Martin took its first win with its new car. It’s the team’s third overall triumph and fourth total since joining the prototype ranks at Mid-Ohio in 2009.

Additionally, Muscle Milk AMR took the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge win in prototypes as the car to travel the farthest, fastest and with the least energy consumption. The team achieved the same award at this race last year with its Porsche RS Spyder, and both have been done using E10 ethanol.

Lucas Luhr made an early pass for the lead on Chris Dyson, at turn six on the first lap. From there, it was smooth sailing as the only time Luhr or co-driver Klaus Graf lost the lead was on the sole round of pit stops.

“I had the plan in my head to get around Chris in the first corner but he did a good job staying ahead,” Luhr said. “But I could see I was quicker and made my move a few turns later.”

Graf added, “Lucas laid the groundwork today. He brought the car to the pit stop very well today. We tried to make it on one stop which meant I had to save fuel. It is very easy to make mistakes here and it means a different driving style. We were pretty much controlling the race and had no problems. This is a big reward for our guys after Sebring where things didn’t go to plan.”

Dyson and Guy Smith, who brought the Dyson Lola Mazda the pole position, soldiered home in second. They still lead the class championship though, having scored points at Sebring while the Muscle Milk AMR car failed to finish.

Ricardo Gonzalez, No. 06 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09, and Gunnar Jeannette took the LMPC class win at Long Beach. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

CORE Autosport recorded its first win in the LMP Challenge category with Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez in the No. 06 car. It’s also Gonzalez’s first ALMS win, while it marks a repeat for Jeannette in LMPC at Long Beach.

Jeannette took on a set of fresh tires in his stop when taking over for Gonzalez, and within a handful of laps hunted down and passed Kyle Marcelli in the Intersport LMPC entry for the eventual class win.

While both the winning and fourth-placed CORE cars needed a tire change, second and third place in class went the entire two-hour race on a double stint. Intersport Racing equaled its best finish in the class with second, thanks to Marcelli and Tomy Drissi. Genoa Racing secured a podium in third with Elton Julian and Eric Lux behind the wheel.

Miles Maroney, the 17-year-old debutante who set the mark as the youngest driver in ALMS history this weekend, was fifth in class co-driving with Alex Figge in the PR1/Mathiasen entry.

Level 5 Motorsports took the P2 class win with its Lola HPD coupe, which ran 45 laps in the hands of team owner Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. The team’s open-top prototype which Tucker and Luis Diaz were scheduled to drive did not start.

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