Genoa Racing Takes Second Place, Closes on Championship Lead at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 20, 2011 - Genoa Racing advanced from a fourth place starting position to finish second in the Time Warner Road Race Showcase, and cut their points deficit to five. Strong drives by the Genoa trio of Eric Lux, Christian Zugel, and Elton Julian saw the No. 63 green dot/p.u.r.e./ZaisGroup ORECA FLM09 prototype lead the middle portions of the race, only to have the victory snatched away in the final 30 minutes of the four hour endurance test.
The weekend got off to a good start for Genoa, with Lux and Zugel consistently posting fast times during Thursday's test session. Friday practice saw the addition of Julian to the Genoa lineup, and the native of Ecuador was quickly up to speed as well. Lux was tabbed to qualify the car Friday afternoon and secured a second row starting position with a superb lap at the end of the session. With the top four cars in the LMPC class separated by less than two tenths of a second, Genoa had high expectations for the Time Warner Road Race Showcase.
Those expectations were well founded, as Lux quickly advanced from fourth to second in just six laps. A full-course caution after 54 minutes gave Genoa the opportunity to refuel the car as well as make a driver change.
Zugel drove a strong stint until another yellow flag period, which came with one hour and 36 minutes gone by. The Genoa Racing crew opted to pit for new Michelin tires and refuel as well as put Julian in the car.
Julian restarted the race in second position, but it took him just two laps to track down class leader Butch Leitzinger and move into the LMPC lead. Julian settled into a strong race pace and built a comfortable gap during his two consecutive stints in the car.
"It was a great day for me with a great double-stint," reflected Julian. "I couldn't be happier with my situation. I was called up to race at Road America at the last minute, and I only had a chance to do around eight laps in practice. But then being able to get in the car and race with Butch Leitzinger right out of the box and get past him in the first stint was great."
The substantial lead that Julian had amassed was eliminated by the final full course caution period of the race with 50 minutes remaining. Genoa used the yellow flag as an opportunity to make their final pit stop of the race. The team opted to not change tires and instead took just fuel and made a rapid driver change. A quick stop by the Genoa crew preserved the class lead, and Lux reentered the car for the final stint pacing the LMPC field.
The choice to not change tires left Lux with a car that did not handle to his liking, and Leitzinger slipped past and into the lead two laps following the restart.
"Thomas Knapp and Genoa Racing gave us another great car this weekend," said Lux. "When I got back in the car for my final stint, I think I had too much pickup on the tires and I really struggled to get the tires cleaned off before the green flag. I tried to give Leitzinger a run for his money after about two or three, but we decided to play it safe given the lack of grip I was experiencing."
With championship rival Core Autosport lagging behind due to contact at the midpoint of the event, Lux settled into a race pace and preserved a strong second place finish in class and fourth overall.
"We wanted to make sure we got the points for the championship by taking a safe second," said Lux.
Core led the LMPC team standing by eight points over Genoa entering the Time Warner Road Race Showcase and leave with a 110-105 edge after finishing fifth.
Julian was also pleased with the second place result.
"I am happy with the team's performance," he said. "Eric and Christian did very well over the course of the entire weekend, and the the team worked very hard. I am happy for everyone at Genoa."
Next up on the ALMS calendar is the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on September 3. In the previous street course event in Long Beach, Genoa took home a third place finish with Eric Lux and Elton Julian at the wheel.