Michelin Road America race report

Michelin Motorsports press release

Aston Martin Wins Closest Race in ALMS History, Michelin’s Latest Help Ferrari 458 Score First Win

#6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing AMR/Lola Coupe B08 62: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf
#6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing AMR/Lola Coupe B08 62: Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf

Photo by: Darren Pierson

ELKHART LAKE, WIS. (August 20, 2011) – Four hours and 428 miles of racing came down to just over one/tenth of a second on Saturday at Road America. Klaus Graf and the Michelin technical partner Muscle Milk Aston Martin prototype took the lead midway through the race then fought off a fierce challenge by the Dyson Racing Mazda of Guy Smith to claim the closest victory in the 124-race history of the American Le Mans Series. The winning margin was 0.112 seconds.

“The team kept saying “’save fuel, but push,” and you can’t really do both, but we had to,” said Graf. “The track changed quite a bit as the sun started to drop,” said Graf “Both Lucas and I had to push hard every single lap. This was a four-hour sprint race.” For Graf and the Muscle Milk team it was sweet redemption after losing in the final two corners here last year.

The victory was fourth of the season for the Benicia, Calif. based Muscle Milk Team Cytosport and the fifth in the six 2011 ALMS events for Michelin.

Finishing third overall and taking the victory in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class was the PR1 Mathiasen Racing team and drivers Butch Leitzinger and Rudy Junco.

Taking advantage of the latest Michelin racing tires on all four wheel positions, Jaime Melo put the Houston-based Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia into the lead with 90 minutes remaining and built a 9.7 second advantage only to have it disappear under a caution with 40 minutes remaining. Restarting in second place, over seven seconds behind the leading BMW of Dirk Werner, Melo gained back the entire margin and retook the lead just four laps later to pull away to a nine-second victory.

Ferrari 458 Italia Scores First Win: The win was the first in six ALMS starts for the new Ferrari 458 Italia. “This was a really important victory for our team, for Ferrari and for our new model. It is not going to be the last one,” said Melo. “We want to give a big thanks to Michelin. The new tires helped us set the fastest GT lap of the race (a new race lap record) when we were fighting with the BMW and the tires stayed very consistent and that helped us pull away.”

Michelin Comments: ‘The fans got to see a tremendous race that showcased the talent of the ALMS drivers, teams, and technical partners,” said Silvia Mammone, motorsports manager, Michelin North America. “We are especially pleased that our latest mid-season updates helped our technical partners to perform at such a high level. Today was a day filled with firsts for Michelin and our technical partners. In addition to the Muscle Milk Aston Martin team, we want to congratulate Ferrari on the first win for the new 458 Italia, the PR1 Mathiasen team and Rudy Junco on their first LMPC win, it was also the first ALMS win for Risi’s Toni Vilander and the first LMPC win for Butch Leitzinger,” said Mammone.

The race will be broadcast on Sunday, August 21, on ABC TV at 4:30pm Eastern time.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , Klaus Graf , Lucas Luhr , Jaime Melo , Dirk Werner , Toni Vilander , Rudy Junco
Teams Aston Martin Racing , Risi Competizione , Dyson Racing , HART
Tags aston martin, michelin, muscle milk