Road Atlanta: Team CytoSport race report

Petit Le Mans Podium Braselton, GA (October 2, 2010) - The final chapter of Muscle Milk Team CytoSport's entry in its first full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron season was a bittersweet one as the team finished second in both...

Petit Le Mans Podium Braselton, GA (October 2, 2010) - The final chapter of Muscle Milk Team CytoSport's entry in its first full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron season was a bittersweet one as the team finished second in both the race and the championship standings while bidding farewell to its Porsche RS Spyder.

After a strong performance in practice and qualifying, the team was hoping for another solid performance to add to its three victories so far this season, but it wasn't meant to be on account of an engine problem.

The team did however go on to score an eighth podium in as many starts this year and a 12th in 12 starts since returning to the series in 2009.

The engine issue first appeared in the morning warm-up when it started misfiring. While the team tried to fix the problem before the start of the race and again in the opening stages of Petit Le Mans, the engine continued to run on only seven of its eight cylinders.

Fortunately for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport, Porsche builds very strong and reliable engines as proven by the steady although underpowered race pace they kept as well as the fact that the engine continued to run until the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder crossed its last checkered flag nine hours and 11 minutes later.

With the car down on power, Klaus Graf, who was starting the race, had no choice but to see the Highcroft car of Simon Pagenaud go by him on the second lap. The team kept on pushing and despite falling as low as 31st overall and fourth in class, it kept soldiering on doing the best they could with what they had.

Lucas Luhr at Road Atlanta - race By the time Graf handed off driving duties to Sascha Maassen two hours and 23 minutes into the 1000-mile event, the team was up to ninth overall and third in class.

Maassen only had the time to complete 13 laps before he was involved in an on-track incident with a GTC car on a restart. With damage to the left side of the car he headed back to pit lane for slight repairs and a new set of Michelin tires.

The remainder of the race would be without further incident for the Benicia, CA-based team. Lucas Luhr moved the team into second place in class just over the halfway mark and Graf returned behind the wheel to take it to the finish.

The event marked the end of the season for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport but it was also the last race for the Porsche RS Spyder. Incidentally, the two drivers who drove the Spyder at its first race back in 2005, scoring a win on debut, were Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr.

With today's performance combined with a win by the team's championship rivals Highcroft Racing, Muscle Milk Team CytoSport finishes second in the LMP championship only 20 points behind.

Despite the bittersweet ending, the team is more than satisfied with the season they had, having exceeded their expectations.

While the team will not be back with the Porsche RS Spyder next season in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, it will be back in the sports car series with a program that will be announced at a later time.

Klaus Graf, driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "What a race. It was a tough day in the office I would say! Only Porsches can last for nearly ten hours with one cylinder down. I don't think any other motor would survive that, it's amazing. We had a problem right from the beginning but we didn't give up, we kept digging. We pushed to get the best lap times we could and second place I think was the reward for not giving up. "It was an unbelievable season. When we started the year, nobody thought that we would finish second in the championship and win three races. It's been a real pleasure with everyone working together on Muscle Milk Team CytoSport. "Congratulations to Highcroft Racing, it was great battling with them this year and finally thanks to Greg and Penny (Pickett). They love the sport and they make this possible. The family, the kids and the whole company supports them and I think that makes it really special."

Lucas Luhr, driver, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "I have to say a big thanks to Greg, Penny, Klaus and the whole team for having me. I really had an enjoyable week and a lot of fun. It may be a small team, I am used to driving for bigger teams, but the guys on this team are great. They really know what's going on and they are on it. I had a wonderful time with Muscle Milk Team CytoSport. "Today in the warm-up the engine was starting to misfire. I felt that is was down on power. The team tried to fix it but couldn't. We did the best with what we had and used what was left of the engine basically. But that's motor racing, things like this can happen, but I'm still proud that we achieved such a good result with 'seven eights' of an engine. That shows how strong the Porsche engines are and how good the team is. I'm really happy that I came over and could drive for them."

Sascha Maassen, driver, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "(About the incident) We were on a restart and there were a lot of GT cars in front of me. I overtook one exiting Turn 1, I was in full acceleration and he decided to turn to the right where I was. It was a big hit but I am really happy that our car is so strong. We had some damage but we were still able to continue. "I want to thank Porsche for making the best seven cylinder engine that I ever drove! The car was great all weekend and it was in the race as well so it's a shame that we had the engine problem but it's great that we lasted until the end, it's a testament to Porsche and the team. "I also want to thank Muscle Milk Team CytoSport for giving me the opportunity to drive for them again this year. It's always a pleasure to work with this team."

Geoffrey Carter, Team Manager, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "The 2010 Petit Le Mans started out today with high hopes for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport. Unfortunately, we encountered a problem this morning during warm-up. The guys did a good job before the race to try and solve the problem but regrettably what we tried didn't solve it. We were then faced with multiple challenges. We had the misfire in the engine that didn't go away all day and some contact during the race. The guys did great to overcome those problems and in the end it was good enough to finish second, which is where we finished for the year. The fact that we were able to finish the race just goes to prove how great Porsche is. I don't think any other engine would have lasted that long with the way it was running. "Coming into this season we didn't have any real any expectations of finishing as high as we did. Fortunately for us, the team, for Greg and Penny Pickett, we did have a good season. We won three races and gave the defending champions a run for their money. I'm very proud of everybody involved and we're very encouraged and hopeful for next year because this year was a blinding success for the entire Muscle Milk Team CytoSport. I'd also like to congratulate Highcroft Racing on their championship. It was great racing them all year and hopefully we can do it again next season."

Greg Pickett, Owner, #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder "As I'm sure most people in this industry know, Porsche has come to the point where they need to close the chapter on the Porsche RS Spyder and I understand that. I think they really took a lot of time with that decision because it wasn't an easy one. That said, maybe our Porsche was pouting a little today and thought 'if you're not going to bring me to the big dance anymore then I'm just going to pout'. "For some reason we went down to seven cylinders but the car still ran all the way. The team did a fabulous job despite the hard work as did the drivers who had to drive in somewhat difficult conditions. It's not always easy seeing cars that you are normally faster than just fly by you. "Overall I'm very, very proud of this team, we made great progress. I think we did our partners Michelin, Porsche and Muscle Milk very proud. And for me as a proud owner, entrant, driver and businessman I just could not have imagined a better season. "My hat is off to the champions. I told Duncan (Dayton) earlier that he had set the bar very high and that in doing that he made us reach, and us reaching made us better. I'm proud of our team, I've enjoyed the season immensely and I look forward to next year. We'll be back, we're not sure with what yet but we'll be here next season."

-source: cytosport

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Series ALMS
Drivers Klaus Graf , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Greg Pickett , Simon Pagenaud