Graf and Luhr take home historic win, while Gidley and Guasch pick up first podium finish
Long Beach, CA (April 14, 2012) - Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr wrote a piece of history today by becoming the first to post overall victories in consecutive years at Long Beach with an impressive win in the second round of the American Le Mans Series.
The team also added to its history by scoring its first double podium finish in the American Le Mans Series with an impressive second place by Memo Gidley and Mike Guasch in the PC class.
After having only experienced wet conditions so far during the weekend at Long Beach, Lucas Luhr played it safe at the start wanting to get a feel for the HPD ARX-03a in dry conditions on the streets of the California city. However, Luhr never lost contact with the #16 Dyson car and got by him about 25 minutes into the two-hour event.
Luhr held the lead until the team's pit stop under caution. After having completed its first stop for fuel, tires and a driver change, the team came back in just before the green flag fell for a splash of fuel, knowing that they would be close on making it to the end.
That second stop placed the Benicia, CA-based team nearly 15 seconds behind the car driven by Chris Dyson. But, never one to give up, Klaus Graf did what he does best and gained time lap after lap, until he finally got by the #16 car for the lead about 10 laps later.
From that point on the German never looked back and he went on to build a lead of over 40 seconds on second place. The win was the second for Graf and the team at Long Beach and third for Luhr.
The historic win places Muscle Milk Pickett Racing tied for first in the Championship standings.
The duo of Mike Guasch and Memo Gidley also had a great race, moving up from fourth in class on the grid to finish second in class and fourth overall. Guasch who was making his Long Beach debut drove a strong stint, taking his Muscle Milk/Molecule car to first in class at one point.
Unfortunately his time at the top of the PC class was short lived as a caution slowed the on track action. The team took advantage of the yellow to pit for fuel, Michelin tires and to put Memo Gidley in the car. However, the American lost the lead in the pits. Due to the tight confines of the pit lane and with a car in the box in front of them, the crew had to pull the car back in order to give the PC car enough space to head back on track.
Gidley pushed as hard as he could to gain on the leader, but with such a close and competitive class he was unable to make his way back into the lead.
The Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team did go on to register its first PC podium finish and its first double ALMS podium in history in front of friends and family and Muscle Milk athletes snowboarder Matt Ladley and the event's Grand Marshall Clay Matthews.
The team, who also took home its first Michelin Green X Challenge of the season, will be back in action in about a months time with the American Le Mans Series round at Laguna Seca.
Klaus Graf, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a
"It was a great day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with this historic win. Our HPD ARX-03a ran very good all day long with no problems. We had to push very hard though after our pit stop to get back what we lost after coming in for a splash of fuel under yellow. So, I actually got my qualifying in today! We were using the Michelin Street Soft tires for the first time today and they performed great.
"It's great for the whole crew, they have worked many hours for the last few months, and after our disappointment at Sebring it's great to come back strong. Also, the PC car ran very well with a podium finish, so overall it's a fantastic day for the team."
Lucas Luhr, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a
"I had a good start but since we didn't have any running in the dry until today, I didn't want to risk anything at the start and Guy (Smith) was quite aggressive going into the first corner so I just let him go, but I had no problems following him.
"There was one situation in traffic where he struggled a little bit and had contact with a BMW so I memorized the spot and told myself that when I was going to try to pass him it would be there and that's what I did a few laps later. When I did, he had no chance because several GT cars blocked him. After I was by him, I was able to pull out a gap.
"The car was really good and the Michelin Street Soft tires did amazing. This is a brand new car for us and we didn't have any previous experience set up wise here and everybody else did. So a big, big thank you to the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing guys. With all the hard work they put in the last few months it's great to finally reward them with this win.
"It was also a good day for Muscle Milk because this is like a home race for them. They had a lot of family and friends at the event and giving them a win is a perfect ending to the weekend."
Mike Guasch, #5 Muscle Milk/Molecule Oreca FLM09
"I think we had a great race. I'm a little bit disappointed because we were close to a win but finishing on the podium is a great result for the Muscle Milk / Molecule car.
"The start seemed like a bit of a mess, but I was able to gain a couple of spots going into the first turn. Honestly, it seemed like a lot of people were out of sorts but I felt really solid and I was able to take advantage of that.
"I had never driven on this track before in the dry, but it was fine with me! After the start I continued picking away at the cars ahead of me and all of a sudden I'm in second place. After that, I was all over the PC leader trying to get by him and he was tangling with others and I was able to get by him in Turn 9. Unfortunately, a yellow came out shortly thereafter so we didn't keep the lead for very long. Sadly, we lost some time in the pits because we had to back up the car to get out since the P1 car in front of us was there. But overall I'm happy with my stint. It gives me more confidence for the rest of the season and I know I have the pace to race with the rest of these guys and that's a good thing.
"If we just keep doing what we're doing, we'll be fine. We just need to keep our heads down and keep going, there's still lots of racing to do."
Memo Gidley, #5 Muscle Milk/Molecule Oreca FLM09
"It feels great to finish on the podium at Long Beach. This whole weekend was a weekend of emotions with the rain, the weather, the lack of practice, the cancellation of qualifying and never having driven our Muscle Milk / Molecule car here in dry conditions. It was an additional challenge for my teammate Mike Guasch, who had never even driven here before this weekend.
"It was just a lot of emotions and for it to come together in the race and finish on the podium is fantastic. Mike did an unbelievable stint and got the car into the lead. Unfortunately we lost a little bit of time in the pits but we went back out and just ran a smart race and finished second. It's awesome to get back on the podium again. I've had a lot of success in the past at Long Beach and saw a lot of friends and fans. It's been a great weekend."