Team CytoSport's Petit Le Mans adventure ends with third consecutive podium Braselton, Georgia (September 26, 2009) - Mother Nature played her part in today's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and while in some cases it was advantageous to the Team...
Team CytoSport's Petit Le Mans adventure ends with third consecutive podium
Braselton, Georgia (September 26, 2009) - Mother Nature played her part in today's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and while in some cases it was advantageous to the Team CytoSport Muscle Milk squad, in others it wasn't. In the end, no matter what Mother Nature wanted, Team CytoSport still claimed its third consecutive podium with a third place finish at the prestigious Petit Le Mans.
The day started with a deluge at the Road Atlanta track and although the rain did slow down throughout the day, it never really ceased. Due to the inclement weather and subsequent track conditions, Team CytoSport decided to have Klaus Graf start the race aboard the #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder instead of Greg Pickett, who had been previously nominated as the starting driver. Per the American Le Mans Series rules, the Muscle Milk crew now had to start the race from pit lane, at the back of the field.
Graf quickly proved he was up to the challenge of driving in the wet and less than ideal conditions. Within four laps the German had moved up to tenth place overall and second in class, exactly where the Muscle Milk team would have started. Graf's spectacular driving wouldn't end there. Three laps later he was eighth overall, first in the LMP2 class and quickly chasing down the LMP1 cars. As a testament to the team's hard work as well as the performance of the Porsche RS Spyder and Michelin tires, Graf made his way by both factory Peugeot cars before his first stop on lap 36.
Racing in the wet It was following his stop that things started to go wrong for Team CytoSport. Following a spin coming out of the pits on a semi-dry track with his fresh set of Michelin slicks, Graf encountered a mysterious problem. Having made his way back into the pits, the team started looking at what could be the possible cause of the stalling engine. After some great work from the team, they discovered that somehow water had found itself mixed with the fuel. A problem that was likely caused by all the torrential rain that had fallen on Road Atlanta and the entire Atlanta area.
With just over an hour gone by in the race, the crew brought the car back to the garage area, diagnosed the problem, pumped out the contaminated fuel and returned to pit lane about an hour later. Upon the team's return to the track they were now sitting 39 laps behind the second place LMP2 car of Dyson Racing and 42 laps behind the car of Fernandez Racing.
Podium Road Atlanta Once again proving to be up to new challenge, Graf put in another great performance and had made up nine laps on the Fernandez car, that was now second in class, when he handed the car over to Sascha Maassen.
Maassen quickly took over where his fellow German driver left off as he continued making up laps on second place. About an hour into his stint, Maassen with an excellent run had made up another 26 laps on the Fernandez car. With the factory Porsche driver closing in on second place in class, a caution period about four hours into the race halted his progress.
With the rain quickly coming, the Muscle Milk guys made an excellent call by bringing Maassen into the pits for a set of Michelin wet weather tires and a driver change. As expected the rain started falling harder and harder and with Graf back behind the wheel of the Muscle Milk car, Team CytoSport continued to gain on 'P2'. With the rain coming down heavily, cars were sliding off the track, first bringing out the yellow flag and about 10 minutes later the red flag.
Podium Road Atlanta The waiting then started. With the cars in pit lane and the drivers back in their transporters staying dry, the teams would wait about four hours before the race was called on account of the weather and the checkered flag fell on the 2009 Petit Le Mans with the Team CytoSport Muscle Milk crew sitting third in class. It was not the way or position in which the team had wanted to close out the race but in the end Team CytoSport scored its third podium finish in as many races this season.
Next up for the Muscle Milk crew is the final round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10, what will be considered its home track with the team being based in Benicia, California.
Team CytoSport Muscle Milk Quoteboard:
Greg Pickett, Owner, driver, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "I must say I'm a little bit disappointed that with the weather and the all stops and starts and the abbreviated race that I actually wasn't able to get in the #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder. But I'm so proud of my little team and Klaus... Klaus was sensational in the rain. I'm so tickled with him and I'm so tickled with Sascha, he did a tremendous job all week and gave us invaluable input. So to climb up on the podium again is great, that's three straight for us in the three races we've done so far this year. On behalf of everybody at Muscle Milk we just couldn't be more pleased."
Klaus Graf, driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "Obviously I don't want a race to end like that weather wise with these conditions. Everybody wants to race but it's a podium for us and we'll take it. The Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder was really fast today and I really enjoyed myself out there, even in the very difficult conditions. We showed a lot of speed and a lot of class to the whole paddock. And in our third race, that's a big accomplishment. I'm really proud of the team and myself. I made a little mistake coming out of the pits after switching to Michelin slicks but that wouldn't have had that big of an impact. We then ran in to a technical problem, which really took us out of contention to win the race. We found the problem, which was really difficult to find, so hats off to the engineers, it was not easy to locate the issue. So we fixed it and we went back out. We ran really strong lap times again after that. I'm happy for everybody on the team, it was great to have Sascha on board and I can't wait to get to Laguna Seca."
Sascha Maassen, driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "That was the shortest ten hour race I've ever done! Klaus put on a great show in the beginning. It was really fun to watch. Unfortunately we had a little set back with our problem but we kept on going. The guys did a great job to find what was a very unusual problem. In all of my career, I've never had that happen and here we are finishing on the podium. It's great for the Team CytoSport Muscle Milk guys. To be on the podium in every race they've done this year is amazing. I'm just glad that I could be part of it this time and I hope we can work together again in the future."