Mucke, Fernandez and Primat win 6-hour ALMS race
Stefan Mucke, Adrian Fernandez and Harold Primat won the six-hour ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron in their Aston Martin-powered Lola coupe. The trio battled all day with Dyson Racing and Oryx Dyson Racing Lola-Mazdas, and Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing’s Lola-Aston Martin.
"It's a great result for us all. The team did a perfect job, as did the drivers," Mucke said. "Nobody made a mistake and she (the car) was fast today. It’s our first win in the American Le Mans Series, and the race started well, but then we had contact twice and after that, we never thought we could win. I am really happy and thanks to everybody."
BMW Team RLL won its second straight team championship with a runner-up finish in GT for Joey Hand and Dirk Müller. The pairing clinched the drivers’ championship in class – the first for Hand and second for Müller.
Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister won the race in GT for Flying Lizard Motorsports. Bergmeister went past Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo on the last lap when Melo’s Ferrari F458 Italia sputtered as it ran out of fuel. Bergmeister crossed the finish line in his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by 3.571 seconds over Müller’s BMW M3 GT. It was the first win for the Bergmeister/Long pairing since the ALMS race at Mosport more than a year ago.
“It has been a pretty frustrating season so far,” Bergmeister said. “We've had a fast car all season long but could never put it together. It’s been different things all season; in general just a bad year early on. We can gain some momentum here, get another win at Road Atlanta (in two weeks), and take that into the start of next season.”
Saturday’s win marked the second straight GT victory for Porsche and third in four races for the manufacturer. Just as in LMP1, it was anyone’s game throughout the race. The Flying Lizard Porsche, Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen, the Risi Ferrari and the two BMWs all traded the lead during the day.
After Hand and Müller, Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Ferrari F458 Italia of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek placed third in class.
Hand and Müller have led the GT championship since taking a victory to open the season at Sebring. The pairing followed with wins at Long Beach and Lime Rock, and BMW Team RLL’s two BMW M3 GTs have combined for 10 podium finishes in eight races with Road Atlanta yet to go.
“A drivers championship for me, with competition level that is so strong… that’s fantastic,” Hand said. “Dirk and I are a great team. A great showing from our Crowne Plaza people and Avnet was great to see. It was great to win in front of our greatest supporters. Dunlop was really strong all week. I am excited - that’s for sure!”
Two manufacturer battles are still in play in GT. BMW leads Porsche by 24 points, but Dunlop and Michelin are tied for the tire manufacturer championship.
“It was a lot of hard work and a tough season,” Müller said. “The team is fantastic. I think when you look back at what we did this year together, we knew what we needed to do and we were really strong. I think we can be proud of that. We want to win the tire and manufacturers’ titles which are really important, so we’re looking forward to Atlanta.”
Porsche’s 911 GT3 R Hybrid was the highest-finishing GT car although it officially competed as an unclassified entry. Romain Dumas and Richard Lietz completed 236 laps, the same as Bergmeister and Long.
Risi Competizione claimed the GT trophy for the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. With 10 of the 13 cars using E85, the difference came down to race speed (Fast factor) and energy consumption (Efficiency). The No. 56 BMW M3 GT was slightly faster than Risi’s Ferrari F458 Italia, but the latter was more efficient in energy consumption.
Level 5 Motorsports debuted its new HPD ARX 01g with an LMP2 victory and fourth-place finish overall. Luis Diaz, Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker split driving duties for the team.
“The team did a handsome job with the setup,” said Bouchut, who was the class’ fastest qualifier. “We improved our balance as the race went on. It got very easy to drive, and we didn't get into any problems with this race. I did two stints and did everything perfect. It was great to finish so strongly and fourth overall.”
It was an encouraging showing given that the car didn’t turn its first laps until an early-week shakedown at Infineon Raceway.
“The Level 5 team did a great job putting the car together in a short time,” Diaz said. “The team worked so well in the shop and at the track. It shows that it’s the car to have.”
In LMPC, Genoa Racing turned good fortune into a victory and class championship lead. Elton Julian, Eric Lux and Michael Guasch finished just 0.329 seconds ahead of CORE autosport’s Gunnar Jeannette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Rudy Junco. The result moved Genoa into the lead of the team championship by two points over CORE and Lux into first place in the drivers’ chase by three points over Jeannette and Gonzalez.
A late caution benefitted Genoa more than probably any other entry; the ORECA FLM09 was desperately low on fuel. It went more than an hour on a tank.
Genoa was dealt an early blow when Guasch injured his ankle during the driver change for his opening stint. He had to pit after his first lap, putting extra pressure on Julian and Lux. As it turns out, they were more than up to the task.
“Elton had a great stint that turned into four,” Lux said. “He drove so great that is was nice to see him keep the pace and bring home the win. We wanted to go in to Petit Le Mans with the lead; it’s not much, but better than having to come from behind.”
The closing stint was especially tough. Genoa elected to keep the same tires on for the final two hours while CORE elected to put two new rear tires on for Jeannette with 30 minutes left.
“We had to trade off a lot of decisions of getting fresh tires and getting fuel,” Julian said. “Gunnar I know was pushing hard as much as he could. This whole event was monumental for us. We were fast all weekend and I knew we had a better car.”
Intersport Racing’s trio of Kyle Marcelli, David Ducote and Chapman Ducote placed third in class.
TRG’s Spencer Pumpelly beat Jeroen Bleekemolen for the GT Challenge victory by four seconds. Pumpelly took the lead with four minutes remaining when he got around Black Swan Racing’s Jeroen Bleekemolen. Pit strategy and luck were on TRG’s side, said Pumpelly, who drove with Duncan Ende and Peter Ludwig.
“We had a little bit of a luck with the yellow at the end,” Pumpelly continued. “We made the decision to spend the extra time to get tires (on the final stop with 30 minutes left) and hope for the yellow. Then we'd have them to fight with. You have to be in the position to take advantage of the luck that you get.”
The Black Swan Porsche’s tires were 40 minutes older than the TRG car. Additionally, the final caution wiped out what had been as much as a 30-second lead for Bleekemolen, whose team had to fight back from going a lap down earlier in the race.
“We had to push all race long,” Ende said. “The TRG guys did a great job with the car as always. It was a tough race, really close. We had great equipment, Peter did a nice job driving. All in all it was a great drive.”
The result moved Ende and Pumpelly to within 21 points of Black Swan’s Tim Pappas in the class championship. Pappas drove with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen; the trio won the race last year.
Green Hornet Racing’s Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre placed third, a lap down to the TRG and Black Swan cars. Each of those three cars led at one point during the race.
The 2011 American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patr¢n season concludes on Oct. 1 with the 14th annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. The race will air on ABC at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2. Live coverage will be available in the U.S. on ESPN3 or outside the U.S. on americanlemans.com. Rogers Sportnet One in Canada and MotorsTV in Europe will also provide coverage. Ticket and schedule information is available on the ALMS schedule page.
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