Lime Rock Park
Trying times and happy times
The Muscle Milk team had a busy day at Lime Rock Park on Saturday with three races in the two series it competes in. The driving duo of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr finished second in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix while Mark Bullitt finished fourth in his second IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge race of the day after registering a DNF in the first one.
Lime Rock: not a happy hunting ground this time around
It was a trying day for the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing team at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on Saturday.
The team did cross the finish line in second place but as driver Klaus Graf said "it was a tough day at the office" for the defending race winners.
Lucas Luhr, who was starting the race second on the grid for the Muscle Milk squad, had an exciting battle for the lead with Chris Dyson. Luhr constantly stayed within a couple of tenths of the leader and even crossed the timing line first at one point but Dyson fought back hard to keep his position.
It was with about 30 minutes gone by in the two hour and 45 minute race that Luhr took the lead on lap 35, but unfortunately his lead would be short lived.
Five laps later, after building an 11 second lead, the German was hit by a GT car, slightly damaging the Aston Martin and forcing him to enter pit lane with a flat tire.
Luhr returned to the track with a fresh set of Michelin tires 43 seconds behind the Dyson car and still on the lead lap.
Shortly thereafter, a full course caution came out under which the team decided to pit for a driver change as well as fuel and tires.
Thanks to an excellent pit stop the Muscle Milk squad sent Graf, who was now aboard the #6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin LMP1, out in first place ahead of the Dyson car who had pitted from the lead at the same time.
However, once again, a GT car hit the Aston Martin from behind. The impact sent Graf spinning off track, allowing Guy Smith in the Dyson Lola to go by and take a nine second lead.
From that point on there was not much the Muscle Milk driver could do to catch up to Smith. Both drivers were putting in similar lap times, with Graf driving a slightly damaged car due to the contacts it had suffered earlier on.
The Pickett Racing team did go on to win for the second race in a row the Michelin Green X Challenge for the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact.
Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing will be back on track in two weeks, July 22 - 24, at Mosport International Raceway, where the team took its second overall win last season.
Bullitt comes back strong at Lime Rock Park
After a disappointing IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama race on Saturday morning at Lime Rock Park, Mark Bullitt came back strong in Race #2 later in the day by taking a fourth place finish.
Bullitt was starting from the eighth position in Race 1 of the GT3 Cup Challenge and was having a good race making his way as high as fifth after having fallen as low as 10th. However, a full course caution came out with about 11 minutes to go for a car that had spun at the chicane.
After barely missing the spinning Porsche, Bullitt was hit by the car in front of him that went spinning into him. The impact damaged the radiator on the Muscle Milk Porsche GT3 Cup car and caused the engine to start overheating, forcing Bullitt to retire with about five minutes to go.
Fortunately for Bullitt, he had a second chance at a better result with Race #2 going green at 5:00 p.m. later that day. Starting 11th, Bullitt slowly made his way to eighth by the halfway mark of the 45-minute race and was up to sixth ten laps later.
The German had made his way to fourth by the time a full course caution came out with just over 10 minutes remaining. With the race ending under yellow, Bullitt didn't have a chance to try for a podium finish but still ended the day with a satisfying result after a trying weekend.
Bullitt will return to the track at Mosport International Raceway where rounds 8 and 9 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama will take place.
MUSCLE MILK QUOTES
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES DRIVERS
Klaus Graf, driver #6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing LMP1
"I'd say it was a tough day at the office. Both Lucas and I had issues. A GT car hit me and spun me around, which is quite rare when you are in a prototype. I gave him enough room to stay on his line but he didn't. It was very unfortunate. I didn't lose too much time luckily but it did break my rhythm.
"It was difficult today in the traffic and we didn't have the best car, we had slight damage to the fact that Lucas and I both got hit and that didn't help with the performance of the Muscle Milk Aston Martin but in the end we still pushed and finished second.
"Congrats to the Dyson guys. I have to say they ran a strong race today. We'll come back at Mosport."
Lucas Luhr, driver #6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing LMP1
"It was a tough day for the Muscle Milk team. We had the speed and we were well prepared but we were not very fortunate in traffic with a Ford GT car hitting me. I made a really clear move by him and when I was by he turned in on me. It damaged the car a bit and caused a flat tire forcing me to pit early. Then Klaus had the same with a GT car that spun him. It definitely wasn't the day we wanted."
IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE BY YOKOHAMA DRIVER
Mark Bullitt, driver #6 Muscle Milk Porsche 911 GT3 Challenge Cup car
"The first race wasn't great. At the start I had to go through the grass to avoid the cars in front of me. After that, I was able to make up some spots but then on the restart later in the race a car spun at the exit of the chicane and after avoiding him, the guy in front of me spun out and turned into me and there was nothing I could do to avoid him.
"The second race was really good for us. I had a good fight with Michael Schein going on the whole time. We had the same speed and we went back and forth catching up and falling back a bit.
"Near the end I could really go fast because I had saved my tires early on. I did a pretty wild move to go around Gomez over the curb because he didn't move but at this point in time I was committed and went for it.
"It was a good race for us. Thanks to the Muscle Milk team. The team worked hard all weekend and we had a lot of bad luck but we ended the weekend with a good result, but now we have to go one step more to make it on the podium."
By: muscle milk amr