Murci?lago on the prowl in ALMS

Murci?lago on the prowl in ALMS

Long before ALMS, there was an exceedingly brave bull named Murciélago. After a fierce bullfight on an October afternoon in Cordoba in 1879, matador "Lagartijo" spared Murciélago's life for his exceptional spirit and courage. ...

Long before ALMS, there was an exceedingly brave bull named Murci?lago. After a fierce bullfight on an October afternoon in Cordoba in 1879, matador "Lagartijo" spared Murci?lago's life for his exceptional spirit and courage.

#5 Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT: David Brabham, Peter Kox.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
It is this spirit that carries forward to this day in the Lamborghini Murci?lago R-GT, which made its American Le Mans Series debut last weekend at Mid-Ohio, and which will challenge for the LM GTS class honors again at Lime Rock this weekend with Krohn-Barbour Racing.

The result of an intensive development program that started only a year ago, the Murci?lago made its race debut in a one-off appearance in the FIA GT championship in April, finishing third overall in the hands of Peter Kox and Oliver Gavin.

"The Murci?lago R-GT has shown its reliability, consistency and the strong performance we needed to have for delivering to our customers a car that we are proud of," Marketing manager of Lamborghini, Manfred Fitzgerald said at the time. "We are moving forward with our customer programmes which will see this car compete around the world."

#5 Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT: Peter Kox, David Brabham.
Photo by ALMS/Rick Dole.
The cars were not ready in time to make an attempt at qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours -- let alone the ALMS season opener at Sebring -- so the ALMS debut was planned for Mid-Ohio.

"We are looking forward to the first race, however, right now we have yet to receive the car," David Brabham explained at Le Mans. "We are hoping to get it on track at Mid-Ohio."

The team's ALMS debut got off to bad start, though, when team co-owner Tracy Krohn, driving the team's #6 Murci?lago, collided heavily with Lonnie Pechnik's Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in Friday's test session. The contact, coming in the turn 9/10 downhill section, was hard enough to write off both cars.

"The car picked up a little push and I ran wide onto the curbs," Krohn explained after the incident. "I was coming back off the curbs onto the racing line when I felt a thump. I don't know where he (Pechnik) came from, it's kind of blind there anyway."

#5 Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT: David Brabham, Peter Kox.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
While Flying Lizard had a 911 GT3 RS as a spare, Krohn-Barbour had received the two Lamborghinis just days before, and there was no spare: the #5 Murci?lago was destined to be the team's sole entry for the Mid-Ohio race.

Drivers Kox and Brabham took full advantage of available track time, putting in 91 laps before the race, getting to know the car. The work paid off, and the team got progressively quicker, improving from 1:23.773 in Friday's testing to 1:21.530 on Saturday -- and reducing the gap to the class-leading Corvette from 3.8 seconds to 2.5 seconds.

Still, the goal of the team was clear and unambiguous: to finish the race.

"Our main objective this year is to finish each race," Brabham confirmed earlier in the weekend. "But we do hope to win some races this year. To be able to run with the Corvettes today, out of the box, shows the car's potential."

#5 Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT: David Brabham, Peter Kox.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
And, indeed, the team ran a solid, trouble-free race. The #5 Murci?lago actually moved into a class podium position when the Saleen S7-R of Johnny Mowlem lost its hood, but Brabham had to concede the fight for third, just three laps from the checkered flag.

Still, being only five laps down to the leading Corvette -- and less than 0.7 seconds to the Saleen -- after two hours and forty-five minutes was no mean feat for a team that had only received its cars five days earlier.

The team is expecting to have the #6 ready for this weekend's ALMS event at Lime Rock park, and to continue the work to catch -- and surpass -- the cream of the GTS class.

Dick Barbour, co-owner of the new Krohn-Barbour Racing team.
Photo by ALMS/Rick Dole.
"It was a racing challenge to get here. Just received the cars, fired them up for the first time on Friday," explained co-owner Dick Barbour, longtime veteran of endurance racing, and the winner of two ALMS class titles.

"Tracy (Krohn) and I came together to build a premier sports car team." added Barbour. "And we have the best drivers, David (Brabham) and Peter (Kox)."

The Corvette and ACEMCO Saleen teams won't roll over and play dead, but Krohn-Barbour has clearly thrown down the gauntlet. May the best team win the GTS championship!

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