Muscle Milk muscles into the points race at Mosport

The Muscle Milk Aston Martin was victorious at Mossport. (photo by Dave R. Johnson)

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (Mosport International Raceway) -- It is still not a true points race yet -- but the Muscle Milk Aston Martin driven by Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf made easy work of the field here at the Mosport stop of the American Le Mans Series presented by Patron Tequila and in the process tightened up the point race as the teams head into Mid-Ohio next week. While racing is never as easy as it sometimes looks on the track, the Aston Martin of Luhr and Graf certainly made it look as if their entry was the "Queen of the ball" as they were top qualifier, jumped into the lead from the start and looked as if they would stroll to an easy win. The car was certainly "working" but a miscue during the race's first and only full-course caution caused Luhr to miss his first opportunity to take pit lane, putting Chris Dyson in the series-leading Mazda into the LMP1 lead. But with speed to burn, Luhr set off to right the pit stop wrong and reeled in the Mazda near the halfway mark of the timed (2:45) race and then cruised to a nearly 30 second win over the Mazda. The win, its second of the year, moved the Aston Martin to within 26 points of the Mazda Team and certainly has to have gotten the attention of the Mazda's team who's lead is based on their 30 point performance at the season opener in Sebring where the Aston Martin did not race. In you throw out the first race of the season, then the Muscle Milk Aston Martin leade the point series over the last three races by four points.  In the high;y competitive GT class, it was the Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen taking the class win and breaking a string of three straight BMW Team RLL wins.  The race-within-a-race was perhaps the most interesting segment of the Mossport ALMS event as cars "rubbing paint", penalties, and hard driving gave the class something of Hitchcockian feel. In scene one of this frentic movie a full-course caution started the action when Joey Hand made contact in his BMW M3 GT with Risi Competizione's Ferrari F458 Italia of Toni Vilander. A penalty for Hand promoted Jörg Bergmeister and the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR into the lead. However, the lead was short-lived as less than 30 minutes later, in scene two,  Bergmeister got the Porsche sideways in Turn 10, handing the lead to Bill Auberlen in the second BMW Team RLL entry. After the final round of pit stops with Dirk Werner now in the driver's seat, it seemed as if the BMW was on it was to another win -- if it could hold off  Magnussen's Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. But the climax of this event -- which to a certain extent could be seem as an anti-climax -- happened:  with less than 20 minutes remaining, another penalty cost BMW the lead once again. Officials deemed Werner's contact with GTC leader Pumpelly at Turn 10 as avoidable and called the No. 55 into the penalty box. It promoted Magnussen to the GT lead -- and that's the way the race finished. "It was one of those moments where you see the incident, and you think, in the past the person gets a penalty," Gavin said. "It was called that way, and it was something that aided us to get the win. Jan still had to do a lot of hard work out there and navigate the traffic… Hats off to Jan and the team, just a stellar job today. I knew from my stint that if Jan was on the Ferrari gearbox coming out of Turn 5, you could probably get a tow coming out and use the momentum to get by. He executed brilliantly and then sliced through traffic to get a 4- or 5- second lead." Magnussen held off Jamie Melo, who teamed with Vilander, by 4.409 seconds. Werner brought the No. 55 BMW he shares with Auberlen home in third.

Dyson, Mazda hold serve on home court

 

The Mazda leads the Aston Martin home as the Mazda team wins on its home courts.

LIME ROCK PARK, LAKEVILLE, CT -- Winning on your home court is a key ingredient for winning a championship in any sport and on the Americdan Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron the duo of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith did just that in a heated battle that saw the lead change six times with Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing  before they took the checkered flag. BMW Team RLL also picked up where it left off, scoring its third consecutive GT victory Dyson Racing won by 19.969 seconds over the Muscle Milk squad. It was the first ALMS win for Chris Dyson at his home track. Dyson's second Lola-Mazda, driven by Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane, finished third five laps off the pace.

While the Dyson-Smith team also set fast time in qualifying, this was not a simple walk in the part for the team as right from the start Lucas Luhr and the Lola Aston Martin took the race to Mazda team. Weaving through a swarm of traffic in the opening laps  on the 1.474-mile road course. Luhr dispatched Dyson on lap 16, but was then forced to pit early to replace a flat tire.

Both cars hit pit lane on lap 56 during the race's first full-course caution. Having taken on fuel during its earlier stop, Muscle Milk's stop was slightly shorter than Dyson's, allowing Klaus Graf to exit sooner and take the lead.

After leading the race for six laps, traffic again came into play as Graf made contact with a GTC car in the Esses, enabling Smith to retake the lead. Another round of pit stops shuffled the Lola-Aston Martin back into the lead briefly, but Smith grabbed the lead for good on lap 74 of the 187-lap, two-hour and 45-minute race.
  
 

 
 

Mike Rockenfeller and an Audi teammate are caught on the big screen during morning practice at Le Mans as the No. 8 Audi runs down the front chute.

 
Editor's Note: Mike Rockenfeller career has come full circle in the world of endurance car racing, this year taking the Audi R-15 Plus to the overall victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans and leading a one-two-three sweep of the race at a time when the deck seemed stacked against the Audi team by the French counterpart Peugeot team. Rockenfeller had a metoric rise in the world of endurance car racing, moving rapidly through the ranks of  racing before becoming a Porsche factory driver. From there he moved to the Audi factory team where in his first drive in the LMP1 class at Le Mans he crashed out early at the Tertre Rouge curve on the famous circuit de la Sarthe.

Rockenfeller has called this the worst day of his life, but obviously his drive at Le Mans this year more than made up for this shunt. He has split time during the season on a number of different cars, finishing the endurance racing season at theShanghai track in China for the final of the DTM series.

Our Joe Rae caught up with Mike earlier in the year and here is what he had say about the world of racing.

­­­­­­­­­­­­TRT: In one bio, it says that you wanted to be farmer or work in your parent's workshop before you found motor racing; however it also indicated that you still enjoy driving a tractor or a combine -- so was it really farmer or was it just an early love of driving and controlling machinery -- which you seem to enjoy even today. MR:  Well it was not like a dream to be a farmer; the story is, my grandparents on both sides, my mother and father’s side were farmers. So I grew up there and spent all of my youth driving machinery. As a kid I was not thinking of being a race car driver one day, so that is basically the story behind it. My father has a small garage where we repair cars, and so of course I grew up there and learned that. When I was young, already I had the chance to drive some different kind of things, like tractors, and small bikes we had as kids, because we had the space to drive around. Then I started with go-karts when I was nine years old. TRT: We heard that you apprenticed as a mechanic before you started your professional racing career; when did you know you wanted to be a professional race car driver? MR: Yes, that is correct, it was not before, it was when I was sixteen or seventeen.  I started after school, at that time, because it is a three year or two-and-half year education, and I signed a contract with Porsche on the junior team and I was still doing that at my father's garage. So I did both in parallel basically, and then I finished that, and didn't have the time to do it full time anymore. Read more
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