Long Beach – Live Race Blog

April 16, 2011

Long Beach – Live Race Blog

April 16, 2011

Corvette and Risi advanced to second and third in class in GT at Long Beach. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Less than a half an hour remains in the race at Long Beach, with the first (and potentially last) round of pit stops in the books.

The leading Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing Lola Aston Martin took a fresh set of Michelins, while adding fuel and changing drivers from Lucas Luhr to Klaus Graf. Dyson’s Lola Mazda didn’t take tires but only checked tire pressure.

In GT, BMW continues to lead with the No. 56 car, now driven by Dirk Mueller. Jan Magnussen runs second in the No. 4 Corvette ahead of two Ferrari F458 Italias, the No. 62 Risi of Jaime Melo and No. 01 of Scott Sharp from Extreme Speed.

Sharp played into the race in a way he might not have otherwise wanted. He was one of the first GT cars to pit on lap 28, and emerged right ahead of the class leaders Patrick Long and Joey Hand. Long was balked in trying to lap Sharp, and while he got ahead on the back straight into turn nine, he contacted the wall hard on exit.

With likely upright suspension damage, the day was done for the lone American Porsche factory driver and teammate Jörg Bergmeister never got the chance to race. Gone too was the chance at the three-peat at Long Beach.

Long admitted his mistake, but was not exactly complimentary of Sharp in an interview on the live ESPN3.com Internet broadcast.

Gunnar Jeannette dispatched Kyle Marcelli — the two had taken over from Ricardo Gonzalez and Tomy Drissi, respectively — for the lead in the LMP Challenge category. They currently run third and fourth overall.


Lucas Luhr passed Chris Dyson on the first lap at Long Beach. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

The first 45 minutes are in the books of two hours of racing at Long Beach. While the first caution of the race slowed the field for nearly 20 minutes, things got more interesting in GT when the race resumed. Temperatures began the race at 86 degrees Fahrenheit ambient, and 101 on track.

Patrick Long in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR made a pass of Bill Auberlen in the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW M3 into turn one. Auberlen was pushed wide on the exit of the corner, losing momentum and a few positions.

At turn two, Auberlen fell into the clutches of Tommy Milner in the No. 3 Corvette. Milner, on a charge from the back of the grid, nudged Auberlen into a spin. Auberlen drove backwards and into a long three-point turn to get set up in the correct direction.

Auberlen resumed ahead directly ahead of his teammate Joey Hand in the No. 56 car. While Hand was briefly dropped to third from the lead in GT behind Oliver Gavin and Long, Hand quickly took over the point with a three-wide pass at turn six on lap 25.

Most of the early race was slowed by caution when JaguarRSR owner/driver Paul Gentilozzi hit the wall at turn eight in the No. 98 Jaguar XKR-R.

The prototype battle saw Lucas Luhr take the lead from Chris Dyson in the polesitting Dyson Lola Mazda. Luhr is in the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing Lola Aston Martin. Ricardo Gonzalez led the LMP Challenge category ahead of Tomy Drissi and Miles Maroney, the 17-year-old ALMS debutante.

While a number of cars in the GTC class pitted, none of the leaders have pitted yet in either the GT or prototype classes.

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