Lucas Luhr’s perfect path
Lucas Luhr’s perfect path
Many race drivers know their way around the streets of Long Beach, but none know the path to the Long Beach Grand Prix winner’s circle as well as Lucas Luhr.
Luhr has entered the race here at America’s most storied street circuit four times. He has been to victory lane in all four races.
His success is not simply a matter of being with a single team or manufacturer. Luhr’s victories here have come with the factory Audi team (2008), the Muscle Milk Aston Martin (2011) and Honda (2012, 2013) teams, the latter three co-driving with Klaus Graf.
Now, aboard the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE co-driving with rising young American star John Edwards, Luhr returns to Long Beach in 2015 seeking his fifth victory with a fourth different manufacturer.
The most successful driver in history in the former American Le Mans Series with 49 career wins, Luhr, 35, a native of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, is looking for his first win in four starts in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
At just 100 minutes, the Long Beach race is the shortest of the TUDOR Championship season, making track position, car set-up and race strategies all critical on the 1.968 mile, 11 turn street circuit.
When asked the secret to his Long Beach success, Luhr just smiles, “Get in front. Stay in front.” That widely held plan is simple in concept and quite difficult in execution.
Getting in front and staying there isn’t easy in the factory team dominated GT Le Mans (GTLM) class where a stunning list of 13 different drivers have won the class pole in the first 13 TUDOR Championship events and 11 drivers have set the fastest race laps.
“The GTLM class is so competitive, it is very, very hard,” said Luhr. “It is very close all the time.”
The defending Long Beach GTLM champions, Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia have claimed the class victories at Daytona and Sebring in the first two 2015 TUDOR Championship events.
Their Corvette Racing teammates, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner kicked off their 2012 championship run with a victory here. Gavin also holds a pair of wins in the former GT 1 class.
Luhr’s BMW Team RLL factory squad already owns a class victory at Long Beach as teammate Bill Auberlen claimed victory in 2013.
The powerful Porsche North America factory squad claimed the 2014 TUDOR Championship manufacturer championship and features two-time Long Beach GT winner Joerg Bergmeister co-driving with Richard Leitz, while teammates Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki are aboard the sister car.
Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler teams with Bryan Sellers aboard the independent but factory technically assisted Falken Porsche.
The factory linked Risi Competizione Ferrari is also a past winner having claimed victory in the first IMSA competition here in 2007. The team successfully pairs former F1 ace Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer.
The GTLM competition is formidable, but then so is Lucas Luhr. To prevail, the others must do something no one has ever done before, beat Luhr at Long Beach.