Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr were crowned the 2012 American Le Mans Series champions. It is the first title for the P1 team powered by Honda, and one they will treasure for years to come.
”It was a goal we set to accomplish, it was something we wanted for the organization. We set it last year at the banquet," said team owner Greg Pickett.
They did not win the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta tonight but they did not need to. The team had enough points over the #16 Dyson Racing Lola Mazda prior to the season finale in Braselton, GA. However they wanted to take the victory if they could.
Contact with the #34 Green Hornet Porsche 911 GT3 near the start of the second hour caused Luhr to leave the racing surface. He was fine but the rear of the HPD ARX-03a chassis took the blunt of the damage after hitting the wall.
Luhr described the incident: “To be honest, I saw the two GTC cars when I was going toward turn one. I just went for the inside like you do, 100 times during the race, maybe 1000 times. Unfortunately one guy didn't see me. I passed him already, and I saw him from the back of my eye that he was coming over, and I moved all the way to the right and I put two wheels in the grass and he hit me in the LR.”
“There you are so much quicker than the GT cars, you have to commit, by the time I was committed there was nothing I could do. I hit the wall very hard and that was not so nice,” he added.
What an amazing comeback they had thanks to their crew for fixing the suspension damage that allow their drivers Luhr, Graf, and third driver for the event, Romain Dumas to get back into the race. “This says a lot about the Muscle Milk guys getting us back out.”
Graf had to bring the car back in for adjustments, causing them to drop further down. But the soldiered on and the championship came to them as soon as they made the required 70% mark with enough laps in the book.
“When they said hey we won't lose the championship we were relieved but the conditions were getting more and more difficult. The temperature was dropping dramatically, so it was getting harder and harder. It was nice, we won a lot of races this year, and we definitely deserved this championship. I came in second twice in the last 2 years. I think it has sunk in yet. It might take some time,” said Graf.
They finished the 1,000 mile race with 334 laps and behind their rivals Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. The visiting Rebellion Racing #12 Lola Toyota team from Europe took the checkered for the victory at 394 laps; completing the 1,000 miles.
Dyson and Smith finished second to the newly crowned P1 champions by 10 points.
The 2012 season has ended for the ALMS teams, but that does not mean they will stay completely idle as Pickett explained, "We're already looking at the next generation of car, we'll be testing shortly at the Circuit of America with our new bits and pieces, new aero packages and new suspension pieces. We're always looking to bring it to the next level. We're not going to stop here.”