CORVETTE WINS GT IN MANIC MOSPORT RACE
Muscle Milk wins overall from pole while GT and GTC battles dazzle
BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA (July 24, 2011) – Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing collected its second victory in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón on Sunday at Mosport International Raceway with drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf. Behind them, an intense series of events ended BMW Team RLL’s GT win streak, as Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin scored Corvette Racing’s first win since the 2010 season finale.
Throw in a last-lap win for TRG’s Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende in GT Challenge, and you had a manic day at Mosport.
Starting the E85-powered Muscle Milk Lola-Aston Martin coupe from the pole, Luhr appeared uncatchable early in the race, stretching out a sizeable lead on Chris Dyson in Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda. However, a miscue during the race’s first and only full-course caution caused Luhr to miss his first opportunity to take pit lane, putting Dyson into the LMP1 lead.
“After that we said, ‘OK, we have the speed; just do your job,’ and that’s what we did,” Luhr said. “If you have a 50-second lead and you're only 25 seconds down, it’s a big deal. Things go wrong so easily. You have to make it up at the right spot. It takes a lot to get back to the front.”
Luhr quickly tracked down the Mazda and retook the lead with a Turn 1 pass just past the 1:20 mark. It was clear sailing for Luhr and Graf from there, as the duo scored its second straight Mosport victory by 28.420 seconds over Dyson and Smith. The sister Lola-Mazda of Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane was third.
“We certainly found a good setup and have good memories from last year,” said Graf, who drove a Porsche RS Spyder in 2010 with Romain Dumas. “We did some testing with the Aston Martin this year to find good aero balance and get the car to where it is now. It showed today. We certainly didn't make it easy. Lucas did a good job at the beginning and then he pushed once we lost the lead. At the end of the day it comes down to experience from both drivers and our team. We've both won here and we like the track. The team performed excellent. It was a bit of a roller coaster this weekend, even during the race. It's nice to finish with a win.”
Muscle Milk further extended its lead in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge LMP standings by being clean, fast and efficient at Mosport.
GT championship leader BMW Team RLL’s three-race win streak came to a close at Mosport as a combo of contact, mechanical woes and penalties jumbled the order throughout the two-hour, 45 minute race. The GT madness began during the full-course caution when Joey Hand made contact in his BMW M3 GT with Risi Competizione’s Ferrari F458 Italia of Toni Vilander. A penalty for Hand promoted Jörg Bergmeister and the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR into the lead, which was short-lived. Less than 30 minutes later, Bergmeister got his Porsche sideways in Turn 10, handing the lead to Bill Auberlen in the second BMW Team RLL entry.
After the final round of pit stops and with Dirk Werner in the driver’s seat, it appeared BMW’s biggest concern would be holding off Magnussen’s Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. But with less than 20 minutes remaining, another penalty cost BMW the lead once again. Officials deemed Werner’s contact with GTC leader Pumpelly at Turn 10 as avoidable and called the No. 55 into the penalty box. It promoted Magnussen to the GT lead.
“It was one of those moments where you see the incident, and you think, in the past the person gets a penalty,” Gavin said. “It was called that way, and it was something that aided us to get the win. Jan still had to do a lot of hard work out there and navigate the traffic… Hats off to Jan and the team, just a stellar job today. I knew from my stint that if Jan was on the Ferrari gearbox coming out of Turn 5, you could probably get a tow coming out and use the momentum to get by. He executed brilliantly and then sliced through traffic to get a 4- or 5- second lead.”
Magnussen held off Jamie Melo, who teamed with Vilander, by 4.409 seconds. Werner brought the No. 55 BMW he shares with Auberlen home in third. “We were pushing as hard as we could the whole race, same as the Ferrari,” recalled Magnussen, who helped give Corvette its first GT victory in 2009 at Mosport. “It's a really fast car, I had to wait for him to make a mistake for a while. He finally made one in traffic and I was able to take advantage. I knew I couldn't pull away from him on speed, so I knew I had to take some chances in traffic to keep ahead of him.
“This race had a bunch of different potential winners at different stages,” he added. “I think BMW looked like they had the advantage, but we were able to push at the right moments and pull a win out. If you asked us this morning, we'd say, there will only be one winner. It just unfolded that way today. I'm glad we were the ones that got to break the win barrier.”
Corvette Racing’s performance at Mosport also earned it the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge GT win. Like Muscle Milk, the Corvettes ran on E85.
Adding one last surprise to the GT show at Mosport, Jaguar RSR scored the fastest lap of the race with driver Bruno Junqueira who entered a 1:18.102 (113.334 mph).
LMPC was a CORE autosport sweep, as Ricardo Gonzalez and Gunnar Jeannette led teammates Jon Bennett and Frankie Montecalvo to a one-two finish in their twin ORECA FLM09s.
“At the start I pulled in the inside of Turn 1 and got the first position,” Gonzalez said. “The goal was to make as comfortable a lead as possible. The last time our strategy might have lost us the race (at Lime Rock). I knew to be aggressive in traffic, but intelligent, and stay out of trouble. If you saw in the first stint and a half, I had almost lapped second place. The strategy was for sure a good one. It could have been impossible to pass GT cars or really dangerous without the larger restrictors today. I'm glad they passed it for this race.”
“Racing in the series is about being smart right now,” Jeannette said. “There are so many classes and closing speeds, especially at a place like this. You can come up on a GTC and they don't see you there as well… This is a new team, the CORE team, so we're just working on driving smarter and keeping our nose clean. They are doing a fantastic job.”
Lime Rock Park winner Genoa Racing was third with drivers Eric Lux and Christian Zugel. LMPC polesitter and local favorite Kyle Marcelli’s day ended early after the Canadian was caught out in a tangle between Intersport’s LMPC car driven by Jon Field and the GTC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Chris Cumming (JDX Racing). Marcelli still had enough track time to set the fastest LMPC lap of the race, a 1:13.455.
The GTC race mirrored that of its GT brethren with multiple lead changes. It climaxed with Pumpelly’s last-lap pass on TRG teammate Dion von Moltke.
“My job was to get a good lead for Spencer,” Ende said. “Spencer had the rough day, I knew if anyone could get us back in the race it was him. He had to dance with the flat spots but did a great job.” It was sweet redemption for Pumpelly and Ende in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Not only did the duo barely missed out on a win at Lime Rock Park - the result of a last lap pass by von Moltke on Pumpelly - but Pumpelly was spun from the GTC lead earlier in the race.
“This might be the only race I've won twice,” Pumpelly said. “We passed the (Black Swan Racing car) and then the (Alex Job Racing car) again. Next thing I knew I was going backward. Then I got to watch the GTC race for the lead while sitting backward. But I got back in the pits and the car was 100 percent after that. Even with some small flat spots, the TRG team put together a great car. Duncan did a great job putting us in a spot to win the race too. Great job by him today.”
Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport will air on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET this evening. The race and qualifying will be archived for on-demand viewing at americanlemans.com. The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón heads to Lexington, Ohio, for Round 5 and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on August 6. The race will air on ESPN2, Aug. 7 at 10 p.m. ET and be shown live on ESPN3.com in the US or americanlemans.com internationally starting at 3:15 p.m. ET.