Patron Highcroft Acura takes Monterey; its on to Le Mans!

SALINAS, California -- Starting from the last spot on the grid due to a technical rules violation during practice, the Patron Tequila Acura steadily reeled in the field until it was in a position to the race the pole sitting Mazda -- then it was a tit for tat race between the two teams in which either could have won -- until about a half hour was left in the race and the Mazda died on the track at turn four ending what could have been a classic finish to a classic race. The Mazda was quick while it was on the track, turning the fastest lap of the race with just 90 minutes left in the race, as top qualifier Guy Smith rounded the course in 1:14.396 seconds. Meanwhile in the GT2 class, as was expected, it was a race-long war between any numbers of brands of cars -- BMW, Porsche, Corvette, and Ferarri with all of them leading the class from time-to-time. In the end it was Patrick Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that came home to the checkered flag in a battle that was not decided until the final lap. For example with two-and-a-half hours left in the race, Bill Auberlin at the wheel of the No. 92 BMW GT car was leading the race. But the top seven cars in the class were within eight seconds of the leader -- and while there was a little more separation at the end or the race it was still a back and forth battle.  At 6:48 Jan Magnussen wheeled the Corvette ZR1 into the lead as the No. 90 BMW made a pit stop that included a driver change. Eighteen minutes later it was Patrick Long in eventual winner moving into the first place position in the GT class with both of the Corvettes in second and third. With about 15 minutes left in the race the No. 92 BMW with Tommy Milner at the wheel went off the track and stopped at turn 4. At about the same time Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche got inside Joey Hand in the other BMW (No. 90) and out raced him to the line for the GT class lead. With 10 minutes left in the race he had but a .403 second lead over Hand. Long continued to push his lead and with about four minutes in the race had pushed his lead to nearly 1.5 seconds over hand and 2.2 seconds over the No. 4 Vette of Oliver Gavin. From there it was just hold on and stay out of trouble to the checkered flag. David Brabham, who was one of the drivers of the winning Peugeot car at Le Mans last year summed up the race for his team perfectly: "I can't say enough about the team today. It was an absolutely flawless demonstration of endurance racing. Everything went well on the track and we made no mistakes in the pits. My team mates performed perflectly. This is the way to head off to Le Mans with this momentum."

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