Gallery of images from Laguna Seca

A potpourri of images by photographer Dave R. Johson from the battle at Laguna Seca.

Muscle Milk takes closest ever ALMS win at Road America

At the checkers

In a nose-to-tail finish the Muscle Milk Aston Martin gets the checkered flag .112 seconds ahead of the Dyson Mazda. Photos by Dave R. Johnson and composite by Leigh F. Johnson.

ELKHART LAKE, WI — The ALMS Series point race tightens a notch more. The question is whether there is enough time left for the chasing team and enough consistency for the leaders.

Lucas Luhr and and Klaus Graf and their AMR Lola Coupe B08 had a block for every parry  of the Chris Dyson- Guy Smith Mazda Lola and won the Time Warner Cable Road Race American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron here at Road America by a very slim .112 seconds — the closest finish in the history of the series.

The win brought the the Muscle Milk sponsored Aston Martin to within 18 points with three races left in the series. The Muscle Milk team gave up 30 points to the Dyson Mazda at the first race of the season at Sebring where they scored the big goose egg and have been in a catch-up race ever since. The Muscle Milk team has won four of the last five races to get them back into the hunt for the series title.

However, the Dyson Mazda team has been fast enough — and more importantly consistent enough to keep their noses at the lead of the points race. Drivers from both teams said the right thing after the race — tough competition, hard race, it was a lot of fun to race (insert drivers name) — and while the clock doesn’t lie — it was a close finish — it seems as the vaunted 12-cylinder Aston Martin was able to hold off the Mazda whenever it chose — even though Guy Smith had the fastest lap of the race.

Smith turned that on lap 97  of the 107 lap affair — but the #16 Mazda lead for only one lap in the race while Aston Martin  grabbed the lead on lap 38 and while Klaus might have looked back a couple of times the team never gave up the lead, as slim as it was at the checkered flag.

In the GT class, another scratching, clawing, fight to the finish saw Jaime Mello and Toni Vilander get the first win of the season for the new Risi Competizione’s Ferarri F458. The team with Mello at the wheel not turned the fast GT lap of the race but set a new track for the GT class at the Road American Track. Second and third in the GT class went to the two BMWs of the Rahal Letterman team.

The team of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner were second for the GT class, about nine seconds behind the Ferrari while the top qualifiers for the class, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller were third in the class. The Hand-Mueller team still hold a goodly-sized lead in the overall points race, leading the Corvette team of Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen by 22 points. The Vette was fifth in class behind the Flying Lizards Porche of Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.

The series will move to the new road course through the streets of Baltimore, MD where the points race could be decided — or tightened up for the last two races of the series. The Muscle Milk needs to score six more points than the Mazda in each of the last three races just to tie for the series point championship. However, if the two teams continue their one-two finish pattern it is only a four point difference per race leaving the title to the Dyson Mazda.

Muscle Milk reins at rainy Mid Ohio

Winning in the rain -- the Muscle Milk Aston Martin heads to the checkered flag in a downpour.

LEXINGTON, Oh — As the Morton’s Salt’s jingle says: “When it rains, it pours” and for Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and the Muscle Milk Aston Martin-powered LMP team the weather “poured” them a second series win which further tightened the points race in the American Le Mans Series presented by Patron Tequila at the Mid Ohio Sports Car course. 

The Muscle Milk Team qualified behind the Chris Dyson – Guy Smith Mazda  by just under .2 of a second and when the race started in picture perfect weather it was Smith pushing into the leade with Luhr lurking in the shadows. The two teams swapped leads during the first series of pit stops. The Mazda held the lead for the next 23 laps until a restart was required on lap 62.

In sunny weather the Mazda jumps into the early lead. Photo by Dave R. Johnson.

That’s when Luhr zoomed into the lead and never looked back. When Luhr turned over driving duties to Graf on lap 79 the team had a 18 second lead. Graf  increased the lead — and then mother nature decided to get involved into the race and the rain  began to fall. It began as a drizzle and forced Graf into the pits to change to rain tires.  He quickly increased the lead to more than a minute before a full course caution due to signficant slip-sliding on the track due to the rain.

The race restarted and so did the downpour — so it quickly went to a full course caution with cars strewn all over the course. Graf piloted the Muscle Milk car around the slippery course until the red flag can out with 10 minutes left in the race ensuring victory for the Muscle Milk team. The Dyson Mazda finished second a little over a minute off the pace. The Autocon duo of Chris McMurry and Tony Burgess finished third in their Lola-AER.

In the GT class it was another dogfight with the top four cars  within 12 seconds of each other at the end of the race — and it probably would have been closer without the rain. The win went to the Porsche  911 GT3 RSR of Wulf Henzler and Bryan Sellers, from Centerville, Ohio — his first win and the first win for the Porsche GT3 RSR.

The Rahal Letterman BMW Team, which led qualifying (and where the first six cars were within a second) jumped to the initial lead. But Mid-Ohio was not to be a BMW day. First, the No. 55 BMW M3 GT driven by Dirk Werner dropped three positions on the opening lap, then on lap two, Dirk Mueller lost the lead in the No. 56 BMW M3 GT to Jan Magnussen’s No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6. R.

It looked as if it might be the day for the Vette for the seconde race in a row — but the rain wrote a different script. It caused the Vette to have to make an extra pit stop for tires leaving the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F 458 Italia in the lead. The Ferrari opted to play in the rain with it slicks and built up a slight lead before Jaime Melo pitted for tires. The Ferrari bit the dust — well ok there was no dust but you get the picture — with a suspension failure a lap later.

Patrick Long and the Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche GT3 RSR inherited the lead. When the course went green after the full course caution on lap 62 Henzler splashed by Long in the first turn in his Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and then Long went into the gravel at Turn 2 giving Henzler the breathing required to get the checkered flag. The Vette was second and the Beamer finished third.

1. (2) Lucas Luhr, Monte Carlo Monaco; Klaus Graf, Dornham, Germany; AMR/ Lola Coupe B08 62 (1, LMP1), 96.
2. (1) Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire, UK; Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, New York; Lola B09 86/Mazda (2, LMP1), 96.
3. (6) Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, Calif.; Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ontario, Canada; Oreca FLM09 (1, LMPC), 93.
4. (7) Clint Field, Dublin, Ohio; Jon Field, Dublin, Ohio; Oreca FLM09 (2, LMPC), 93.
5. (9) David Cheng, Sammamish, Wash.; Javier Echeverria, Mexico City, Mexico; Oreca FLM09 (3, LMPC), 93.
6. (20) Bryan Sellers, Braselton, Ga.; Wolf Henzler, Nuertingen, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (1, GT), 92.
7. (16) Jan Magnussen, Roskilde, Denmark; Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings, UK; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (2, GT), 92.
8. (13) Dirk Werner, Kissenbruck, Germany; Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, Calif.; BMW M3 GT (3, GT), 92.
9. (12) Dirk Mueller, Monte Carlo, Monaco; Joey Hand, Sacramento, Califl; BMW M3 GT (4, GT), 92.
10. (18) Scott Sharp, Jupiter, Fla.; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, Calif. Ferrari F458 Italia (5, GT), 92.
11. (19) Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, Monaco; Tommy Milner, Leesburg, Va.; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (6, GT), 92.
12. (5) Ricardo Gonzalez, Monterrey, Mexico; Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, Utah; Oreca FLM09 (4, LMPC), 91.
13. (21) David Murry, Atlanta, Ga.; Anthony Lazzaro, Atlanta, Ga.; Doran Ford GT (7, GT), 91.
14. (8) Eric Lux, Jacksonville, Fla.; Christian Zugel, Holmdel, New Jersey; Oreca FLM09 (5, LMPC), 91.
15. (24) Sascha Maassen, Lontzen, Germany; Bryce Miller, Summit, New Jersey; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (8, GT), 91.
16. (15) Joerg Bergmeister, Langenfield, Germany; Patrick Long, Bellaire, Fla.; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (9, GT), 91.
17. (10) Jon Bennett, Fort Mill, South Carolina; Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands, New Jersey; Oreca FLM09 (6, LMPC), 90.
18. (26) Seth Neiman, San Francisco, Calif.; Darren Law, Phoenix, Ariz.; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (10, GT), 89.
19. (4) Chris McMurry, Phoenix, Ariz.; Tony Burgess, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Lola B06/10 (11, LMP1), 88.
20. (23) PJ Jones, Torrance, Calif.; Rocky Moran, Ladera Ranch, Calif.; Jaguar XKR (12, GT), 88

Copyright © TertreRougeTimes 2016