Stunning first overall victory for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport at Lime Rock Park Victory at Lime Rock Lakeville, CT (July 24, 2010) - It was a perfect ending to a near perfect weekend, and a great belated birthday present for Klaus Graf, as...
Stunning first overall victory for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport at Lime Rock Park
Victory at Lime Rock Lakeville, CT (July 24, 2010) - It was a perfect ending to a near perfect weekend, and a great belated birthday present for Klaus Graf, as Muscle Milk Team CytoSport took home its first overall victory in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón at Lime Rock Park today.
From the drop of the green flag on the first practice session on Friday, the Muscle Milk squad showed its intentions as it paced both practice sessions and placed second on the grid for today's race.
Starting the two hour and 45 minute event aboard the #6 Porsche RS Spyder was Greg Pickett who won at Lime Rock Park in the Trans Am Series 29 years ago.
Although Pickett lost a few spots at the start, he did an incredible job avoiding an on-track melee early on to keep his team in contention.
The 63-year-old driver then went on to make his way back to second when a perfectly timed caution came out about 45 minutes into the race giving him the ideal opportunity to hand driving duties over to Graf.
Finding himself about 15 seconds behind the first place car of Simon Pagenaud when the race returned to green flag conditions on lap 46, Graf was on a mission as he started putting in qualifying lap after qualifying lap.
By lap 79 he had moved to within one tenth of a second and he took over the lead on lap 93, when the Highcroft car entered pit lane, to never look back.
While Graf led the remainder of the race, it wasn't without a fight. Knowing that he had to keep pushing as hard as he could, the German continued to turn "qualifying" laps in order to maintain his lead.
Pit stop at Lime Rock By the time he exited his final pit stop on lap 99, he had a 15 second gap on second place thanks to great pit work by the Muscle Milk crew.
Graf continued to widen the margin between he and the car of David Brabham. But even with a 20 second lead, the battle wasn't over as the Highcroft driver kept creeping closer and closer with every lap.
On lap 157, with about 13 minutes to go, Brabham had caught up to Graf and went for a pass on the inside, but the German never saw him and while the Australian was pushed into the grass, Graf was penalized with a stop-and-go penalty for blocking.
With racing luck on their side, Muscle Milk Team CytoSport was able to maintain its lead despite serving the penalty as the Highcroft car had to limp back to pit lane with a flat tire.
When all was said and done, Graf had a nearly 30 second lead when he took the checkered flag, giving Muscle Milk Team CytoSport the win and making Greg Pickett the oldest overall winning driver in ALMS history.
Lime Rock Podium Muscle Milk Team CytoSport now move to within seven points of Highcroft Racing in the LMP Championship standings. The team also took home their second Michelin Green X Challenge of the season becoming the first team to win the award twice this season.
While the first place finish at Lime Rock Park was a first overall victory for the Benicia, CA-based team, it was their second of the season after taking a class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.
The win also serves as a great birthday present to Klaus Graf, who celebrated his 41st birthday this past Wednesday, and to a couple of crew members who had birthdays yesterday and today.
Muscle Milk Team CytoSport will be returning to where it all began with the Porsche RS Spyder in a couple weeks time when they head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 6 - 7, 2010 for Round 6 on the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón schedule.
What they had to say:
Greg Headshot Greg Pickett, Owner / Driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder
"What can I say. We're very surprised. We've been on the top step in two of the five races this year and we're very appreciative of that. We just keep on working, and keeping our head down and we are getting better all the time. It's a really hard working team. It's just amazing to me. It's so gratifying because these guys work tirelessly to get us in this position.
"And Klaus, if he isn't the best or one of the best in this paddock, I'd like to know about it. He went about 30 or 40 laps matching David (Brabham)'s times depending on traffic and that was really heroic. He did two hours in this heat, on this difficult racetrack. My hat is off to him. That was a magnificent performance.
"I think this overall win is a bit more special than the win at Sebring because it is an overall win and it came in a tough close race but all wins are very special.
"All the way around it was a great performance for us, we'll hoist our Muscle Milk very proudly tonight."
Klaus Graf Headshot Klaus Graf, Qualifying Driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder
"What a day! Unbelievable. It's kind of sinking in right now. It was a late birthday present, plus two other crew members had birthdays this week as well, so it's a nice way to celebrate for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport.
"I was pushing hard every lap. I was a little surprised when I came out in first after our final pit stop but I kept pushing and pushing. Geoff (Carter) did a fantastic job on the radio and I drove as hard as I could.
"It was difficult in traffic. I was aggressive and I had a lot of close moments.
"It's our first overall win for our very young team and it's very special to us.
"Greg managed the traffic really well, he stayed clean and he did what he had to do which is very important.
"Finally, thanks to our partners Porsche and Michelin, the Porsche just keeps on running and running and that's a great testimony for the car and the crew as well."
Geoffrey Carter, Team Manager, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder
"I am very proud of the entire Muscle Milk Team CytoSport crew. The drivers, everybody, we had a perfect race today. Our strategy and the yellow coming out worked our just perfect.
"Greg did an incredible job and as usual when Klaus gets in the car, he drove as hard as he could. We kept asking him to go harder and harder and he just kept putting in qualifying laps for nearly the whole time he was in the car.
"Winning at Sebring was a huge milestone in our racing careers because that is such an enormous event but to give Greg and Penny Pickett and all the Pickett family their first overall win in prototypes for the American Le Mans Series is something that I personally take a lot of pride in and I know everyone on the team does so as well.
"Just to see the excitement and the thrill on Greg's face when he gets out of the car and when he watches the rest of the race, it's just a thrill and a privilege for everyone on the team.
"Moving forward this puts us back into the hunt for the championship. The guys have a lot of momentum and a lot of energy heading into Mid-Ohio and we look forward to that race."
-source: team cytosport