Porsche Claims Overall and GT Victory at Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock; RS Spyder and 911 GT3 RSR Outlast Stiff Competition to Contend for Championships Lime Rock, Conn. - July 24 - Klaus Graf (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA), driving ...
Porsche Claims Overall and GT Victory at Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock; RS Spyder and 911 GT3 RSR Outlast Stiff Competition to Contend for Championships
Lime Rock, Conn. - July 24 - Klaus Graf (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA), driving the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder, outlasted the favored David Brabham/Simon Pagenuad Honda Performance Development prototype to score Porsche's first customer team overall win for the RS Spyder in North America.
The car, which debuted a year ago at Mid-Ohio after Pickett purchased it from Dyson Racing, has now finished on the podium all ten times it has entered a race, with a class win at Sebring (LMP2) and now an overall victory at Lime Rock. Graf now trails Brabham/Pagenaud by only seven points in the championship chase with four races remaining (Pickett did not participate in one race, putting him behind in the points).
In GT, Patrick Long (USA) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) bounced back from a disappointing fifth place two weeks ago in Salt Lake City to score their third win of the season in the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The victory also vaulted the pair back into the top spot in the driver standings by 14 points, and puts Porsche ahead of BMW in the manufacturers championship by one point.
Greg Pickett started in the Porsche RS Spyder, and drove for the first 45 minutes, avoiding the three accidents which brought out three early yellow flags, and ran fast enough to stay in contact with the leaders. Both the Dyson Mazda and the Intersport Lola were sidelined with mechanical problems, so Graf found himself in second place with fresh tires with two hours to go, and a Honda in front of him that seemed content to not change tires.
When David Brabham got into the Honda with fresh tires and an hour to go, he pushed Graf to the limited, cutting a 13-second lead down to a half-a-second with four minutes to go, when Graf was forced to the inside of the track at the same time Brabham was trying to pass on the inside, and the cars touched. Graf received a stop-and-go penalty for blocking, while Brabham suffered a flat tire. They both came into the pits, but Graf got back on the track before Brabham, clinching the victory.
"Greg Pickett did a great job keeping in touch with the leaders for the first 45 minutes, and I knew I would have to push for my entire two-hour stint to beat Pagenaud and Brabham. It was hot and traffic was bad, but the Muscle Milk crew came through with great green-flag pit stops. The team engineers from Porsche and Michelin were key to our win, and we are proud to be the first U.S. customer team to score an overall win for the Porsche RS Spyder - a great race car. We didn't take tires near the end at Salt Lake City, and we decided to give ourselves better grip here late," said Graf.
On the stop-and-go penalty at the end, Graf said he had nowhere to go.
"I was forced to the edge of the track- I did not even know Brabham was there. I didn't mean to block him, but I understand the officials have to call what they see. I did not know he had a flat tire until afterwards, and my stop-and-go beat his flat tire change out of the pits," said Graf.
Patrick Long put the Lizard Porsche on the pole during a driving rain storm at the track on Friday, but pointed out that all the teams only had one dry warm-up session this morning to prepare the car for a dry race track for the two-hour, 45-minute event. Long, who finished the race at Laguna Seca in a similar fashion, edging out the BMW, thought this race topped that excitement.
"I thought nothing could top our dramatic win at Laguna Seca in May, but I am the first to admit I am wrong. We had to push 100 percent to the last lap to beat the BMWs, and Pierre Kaffer was not far behind in the Ferrari. While the Melo/Bruni Ferrari is our closest rival, relaxing when they dropped out early would have been a mistake, as we could have ended up fourth or fifth. Our pit stop strategy put us in the lead, and it was up to Joerg and me to bring the car home. Our Michelin tires worked well in both the wet for qualifying yesterday and in the dry for today's race.
Joerg Bergmeister, who has won the GT class five years in a row at Lime Rock - a series record, admitted that this was not his favorite track, but pointed out he has learned what it takes to win here.
"When someone asked me what it has taken for me to win five races in a row here at Lime Rock, I thought a bit, and realized it comes down to one work: patience. The track is so short and there are four classes of cars running together, so you have to pick your spots both to pass and to has move over for faster cars. The BMWs were more powerful in a straight line, but the straights here are very short, and we seemed to have better traction. With our extra pit stop on the early yellow, we had a bit more fuel at the end, and the stop did not cost us track position. Patrick did a great job holding off Auberlen at the end," said Bergmeister.
In the GTC class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the departure from the series of the points-leading Gonzales/Leitzinger car has left the championship wide open. It was the TRG entry piloted by Andy Lally and Henri Richard that took the victory, edging the Jeroen Bleekemolen/Tim Pappas Black Swan Porsche, which Bleekemolen had put on the pole. Lally and Richard now lead the GTC points.
-source: porsche motorsport