Penske DHL Porsches Sweep Top Two Spots at Utah Grand Prix TOOELE, Utah - After no one on the Penske Porsche Racing team thought that the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels feature race...
Penske DHL Porsches Sweep Top Two Spots at Utah Grand Prix
TOOELE, Utah - After no one on the Penske Porsche Racing team thought that the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels feature race could possibly match the excitement of qualifying the day before, a combination of flawless driving and incisive pit strategy gave the team's Porsche RS Spyders a one-two overall American Le Mans Series win at Miller Motorsports Park.
Romain Dumas (France) and Timo Bernhard (Germany) took the lead for good with 35 minutes to go in the two-hour, 45-minute event after the leading Gil de Farran/Simon Pagenaud Acura had to pit for fuel and tires. The No. 7 Dumas/Bernhard Porsche had done its normal pit stop duties with a little more than an hour to go, and was poised for a non-stop finish. The No. 6 Penske Porsche RS Spyder, with Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) also made up a place in class when the Acura stopped, and move up two places overall to second when both LMP1 Audis had incidents on the course.
Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing, was very proud of the team effort and the strategy that resulted in victory. "It's been a while since our historic win at Sebring, and it was great to have another overall victory, but, more importantly, it was important to extend our lead over the Acuras, which have shown again that they are very competitive. We now have a good LMP2 points lead, but it took a perfect stint from each of our four drivers to get a one-two finish plus a good strategy and great pit work," said Cindric.
The impressive 1-2 finish also brought Penske Racing to the doorstep of a watershed moment in its storied history. The win by Bernhard and Dumas was the 299th victory in the history of Penske Racing.
Romain Dumas, who took the checkered flag for the winning No. 7 car, pointed out this is their third win in class out of four events, and, while the overall wins are nice, they are just being in the right place at the right time. "We get important points and win championships by defeating our competitors in class, but we enjoy the satisfaction of besting the Audis. It was fun racing with Lucas (Luhr) and the Audi, but, at the end, we had to be careful to make sure we finished," said Dumas.
Timo Bernhard, who shared the LMP2 title with Dumas in 2007, said it was tough for the drivers to follow the strategy when they saw the competitors ahead of them on the track. "The strategy at the beginning was to take care of the car, and the race would come to us. It was very tough to stay to the strategy when there were times we didn't feel it was going to work, but we trusted team and, as usual, they were right," said Bernhard.
Maassen and Long were caught in the frenetic dash to turn one at the beginning of the race, and found themselves in ninth place after only 2,500 yards, but they too stuck to the strategy, moving up two spots when two Acuras collided in that turn, and more spots when Audis had their problems. Finally, with 15 minutes left, Long led the de Farran/Pagenaud Acura by ten seconds, a lead he was able to maintain until the checkered flag was in sight, when he slowed down to earn a four-second win. "We were conserving fuel when Pagenaud was catching us, but we turned several equal laps to make sure he knew we could so it if pushed. Sascha really kept the car out of danger in a very difficult first stint," said Long, the only American Porsche factory driver.
The race offered another impressive performance by the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class as P2 cars claimed the top six finishing positions.
The Dumas/Bernhard combo now lead the Scott Sharp/David Brabham Acura drivers in the LMP2 championship by 28 points (86 - 58), with both Dyson Racing team driving pairings in hot pursuit (Leitzinger/Franchitti with 46 points and Dyson/Smith with 43 points). In the manufacturers championship for LMP2, Porsche has a 21-point lead over Acura, and in the team championship, Penske Racing leads Acura's Highcroft Racing by 28 points, with Dyson Racing only four points behind.