By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
Second overall ALMS victory for the LMP1 Muscle Milk AMR team, Corvette takes GT win
Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr take victory at Mosport International Raceway in Canada after starting the American Le Mans Series race from the pole. The two Germans were flawless as was their Team Cytosport Muscle Milk LMP1 Aston Martin Lola B08, earning the sprint endurance win by 28.420 seconds over the duo of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
“The Spyder handled like it was born at this track. 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,” Graf said. “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.”
I had a good start and a really clean run up till the traffic.
While Dyson and Smith ended up in second in the No. 16 Lola B09 86 Mazda, the team had to be pleased with the final two podium spots. The second team car landed third with drivers Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane.
Luhr started the 2 hour and 45 minute race and looked strong when he built up an early edge but then the first and only caution appeared to be a miscue by the team by not coming into the pits immediately but as Luhr explained, “I had a good start and a really clean run up till the traffic. I think I had a little bit of a lead until we caught traffic the first time. After the 2nd lap of traffic the gap got rather big. We were up to 50 seconds before the safety car came out. For sure it was a mistake for race control giving the open of pit entry. I was by the opening, as the leader I should have first choice. After that we said, ok, on the radio we said, we have the speed, just do your job and that’s what we did. If you have a 50 second lead and you're only 25 seconds down, it’s a big deal.”
For the Dyson Racing team it was their 16th podium finish at Mosport with both second and third in today’s race. Smith ended up with the fastest lap of the race, and it was Dyson who took the lead on the pit stop during the caution, and held on until the next round pit stops for driver change. The new team cars had their own internal fight for second as Kane and Smith traded fast times.
"I was pleasantly surprised to see Humaid in my mirrors," said Dyson. "And Steven was turning some great times. The Aston had the edge on us on the straights today and that made the difference. But you saw how quick Guy was when he was clear of traffic. Coming into the race we knew we had some heavy lifting in front of us but the team is doing well and we are gelling together so that even when we do not have a great day, we are still second and third."
After the Greg Pickett owned Muscle Milk team went on to score their second win of the season, Luhr said, “Now we're looking forward to the next race. We want to win every race, basically, if you do that you end up with the championship, it’s as simple as that.”
However, the Dyson team is also aiming for the title and after the race, Kane added his thoughts on how will he and Masaood are gelling as he said, "I think we showed this weekend that the pair of us has a lot of pace and we just have to refine a few things like any racing drivers and we will be there. It is just a matter of getting some track time under our belts and racing experience and there is no reason we cannot go for a win."
The tight battle was taking place in the LMGT class between the BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette teams and with Mosport having once been dominated by the Corvette Racing drivers back in the days of the GT1 car, they rosed to the occasion today. The RLL BMW team has won the first three races of the new season but today the No. 4 Corvette Racing C6 ZR1 took home the win.
“This race had a bunch of different potential winners at different stages, I think BMW looked like they had the most advantage, but we were able to push at the right moments and pull a win out,” Jan Magnussen said. “If you asked us this morning, we'd say, there will only be one winner. It just unfolded that way today.”
It was not an easy feat by Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen; especially their fight with Ferrari at the end but they got the job done and were once again showing the Corvette colors at the Canadian track that can be referred to as their home track.
“We were just ahead in the pits stops, and after that we had to hold him off. We were side by side through three, it was really exciting. We were pushing as hard as we could the whole race, same as the Ferrari. 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,” said Magnussen.
Gavin had the first stint before handing the C6 ZR1 over to his team mate and then watched the Dane hold off the Jaime Melo in the Risi Competizion Ferrari F458 Italia. With the minutes closing, Corvette’s lead over the Ferrari was just over two seconds, and at the checkered flag, it was over four seconds.
Gavin added, “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 toe 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.” Melo and Toni Vilander were strong and after the race, Melo said, “It’s definitely a good result for the team and Ferrari and this is our second podium finish. We need to work a bit harder to make the car easier for both of us to drive. Toni did a great job once again and unfortunately I couldn’t challenge for a better result because of traffic but that’s the same for everybody. I’m a bit disappointed with second place, to be honest, but we’re now looking forward to Mid-Ohio.”
It was not a good outing for the BMW Team RLL due to stop-and-go penalties handed to both of the BMW M3 GT scored points with third and fourth at the end. The final step of the podium went to Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. The team leaves Mosport still holding the drivers, team and manufactures’’ points lead.
Finishing fourth overall was the LMPC winning team when Ricardo Gonzalez and Gunnar Jeannette put the CORE autosport No. 06 ORECA FLM09 in the lead to score the victory ahead of their team car, the No. 05 of co-drivers Jon Bennett and Frankie Montecalvo.
“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.”
It became easier for the team’s drivers when local hero and pole winner was out of the action near the one hour and 30 minute mark. Kyle Marcelli set the fastest lap time of the class prior to the incident with Intersport Racing’s LMPC and JDX Racing’s GTC class Porsche.
“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.”
Eric Lux and Christian Zugel finished third for the Genoa Racing team in a close race between the Prototype Challenge teams.
Like the other three classes, the GT Challenge one was also a tightly contested battle with the TRG Porsche 911 Cup team earning the victory on the final lap. Spencer Pumpelly made the move over his own teammate Dion von Moltke. Ironically, at Lime Rock two weeks ago, it was von Moltke taking the lead from Pumpelly and with the spin earlier in the race of the No. 66; it appeared that the No. 68 would take the victory. Still Duncan Ende did his job when he handed the Porsche over to Pumpelly.
“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.”
Mid-Ohio is up next for the American Le Mans Series teams in just two weeks. Will Graf & Luhr be back on the podium or will the Dyson team take the victory?