Braselton, GA (October 20, 2012) - It took a little longer in the race than they would have hoped but Muscle Milk Pickett Racing clinched their first Team and Driver Championships tonight during the running of Petit Le Mans, the final round of the American Le Mans Series season.
Drama happened early on when the race leading #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a, driven by Lucas Luhr, was hit by the #34 GTC car and sent spinning into the tire wall causing much damage to the right side of the prototype.
Luhr sat for what seemed like painstakingly long minutes before the car was finally put on a flatbed truck and brought back to the pits for repairs.
As soon as the #6 HPD ARX-03a was returned under the Muscle Milk tent, the crew proceeded to repair substantial damage to the front and rear suspensions as well as to the bodywork.
Amazingly, just a little after an hour following the incident, the Muscle Milk car had returned to the track 40 laps down to the leader thanks to a great team effort.
Sitting so many laps behind the class leader, Pickett Racing knew that the hopes of a win were slim but they also knew that there was still plenty of time to reach their ultimate goal of winning the P1 Championships.
Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Romain Dumas went on to turn lap after lap, for what felt like an eternity for the team, all while keeping the big picture in mind. That big picture became clearer and clearer and finally around 7:30 pm ET, Graf, fittingly, crossed the timing line to complete lap 276 and give the team its first Driver and Team Championships.
While the team celebrated with hugs and high fives in pit lane, Graf celebrated by continuing on in the race and giving the team it's 10th podium finish in as many starts.
The Driver Championship is the first for Klaus Graf and the fifth for Lucas Luhr. The team also gave HPD the manufacturer's title and Michelin the tire Championship.
Prior to the race weekend at Petit Le Mans, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing was also confirmed the winner of the season long Michelin Green X Challenge award for clean, fast and efficient racing.
Greg Pickett, team owner "This feels great. Winning the Championship is a goal we set for the organization last year after this race. The team fought really hard today, the drivers have done a great job all year long and we couldn't have done this without the help of our partners HPD and Michelin. "Today, it was about perseverance. We were more than just a race team, we were a Championship winning race team because the guys did it like champions and I respect that a lot and I'm very proud of them. I'm already looking forward to Sebring and the start of the 2013 season, we don't want this to be a one time deal."
Klaus Graf, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a "After the way our day started, when they came on the radio and said that we had won the Championship, I was relieved but at the same time, the conditions were more difficult, the temperatures had dropped dramatically so I still had to focus and stay concentrated. Until the race is over, I tried not to think about it too much. This is my first Championship, I've finished second in the last two years, so this is very rewarding for me.
"What a roller coaster ride though. I said the track was a roller coaster and our race was certainly one today. They say kids always want it all, they want the toy and they want the other toy as well or they want the Championship and they want the win as well, but sometimes you can't have it all, and we only got one today but we'll take it! I think we deserved it, we won a lot of races this year. Of course, as a racer, you want to win a big race like this but it wasn't meant to be today. However, it's still a great day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing. We've come a long way from where we started. It's a fun day, it's going to take a while to really sink in.
"Finally, thanks to Romain for helping us out again, he did a great job as usual. Lucas and I had a great season and I think we are a very good sports car pair and I look forward to next year."
Lucas Luhr, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a (About the incident with the GT car) I saw the GTC car when I was going towards Turn 1. I just went into the turn but unfortunately he didn't see me. I had mostly passed him but I saw him from the corner of my eye and I had to pass him with two wheels on the grass, which was not an issue but then he hit my left rear and it sent me into the wall.
"The problem is that in a P1 car you're so much quicker that you have to commit, you don't have a choice. By the time I was committed there was nothing I could do. I hit the wall quite hard. It's unfortunate because we had a very good car to fight the Rebellion.
"It was awesome to see how focused the guys were fixing the car. I was very confident that we would be able to get back out.
"(About winning the Championship.) I'm happy for myself but to be honest, I'm more happy for Klaus that he finally gets his first, long-deserved sports car Championship and I'm very proud to share this with him.
"I've raced for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing since 2010 now, starting here at Road Atlanta. Since then, I've seen a lot of progress in the team. What happened today is the difference between a team and a Championship winning team. Everybody on this team proved today that Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is a Championship winning team."
Romain Dumas, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a "It certainly was not an easy race. The team's first target was to win the Championship, knowing that we had to do 70% of the race and the second one was to try and win the race. While we reached the first goal we unfortunately were not able to achieve the second one because of the accident at the start of the race.
"I think for the mechanics, the team, Klaus and Lucas, they deserve to win this Championship after working this hard, it was not easy, we fought hard and came back to complete more than 70% and that was the most important thing for the team and I'm very happy for them."
Source: Muscle Milk Pickett Racing