|The winning Muscle Milk car|
In a race that had everything, the Muscle Milk P1 driven by Graf and Luhr cruised to victory in the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR.
P2 was won by the Briscoe / Tucker Level 5 HPD.
The race was punctuated by a small fire in the pits, a small grass fire on the track, and one very dangerous shunt in which both corner workers and a camera man had to dive for cover – see video below.
The race started off with a quick full-course caution and a bit of goofiness where the Dyson P1 actually lead the race for a few laps. However, after an hour, order was restored, and the race settled in for a bit.
For a while, the P1 Delta car, running at virtually the same pace as the P2 cars, was holding up the P2 leaders. Finally, the Delta fell out a little more than an hour into the race, finishing next to last.
Last place was reserved for the P2 Brown/van Overbeek car which at first caught fire in the pits, and then stopped running a few laps later. ALMS has the strictest pit rules in the business — including a ban on non-essential people (i.e., fans, sponsors, etc) — and while the fire looked scary, no one was hurt.
A scarier moment happened on lap 54 when the GT Porsche 911 GTC car of Eduardo Cisneros was taken off of the track by the GT Porsche of Marco Holzer. Both of them slid into the tire barrier in turn 8, where Holzer's car struck the tires in front of Rich White, the network camera. Worse yet, Cisneros' car hit the wall near the flag stand, and started rolling on top of the tire wall towards the camera man, whose attention was fixed on the spinning Holzer. The Mr. White was uninjured, and while one of the safety crew was badly shaken she was otherwise unhurt.
The green flag flew for the last 40 minutes of the race, with Luhr leading in P1, Briscoe in P2, Marcelli in PC, Maluecelli in GT, and Faulkner in GTC the rest of the distance.
In the GT Challenge (GTC) category, No. 66 Port Lavaca Group/Viper Exchange/Adobe Road Winery Porsche 911 GT3 Cup co-drivers Damien Faulkner and Ben Keating parlayed their second consecutive class pole position into their second consecutive victory.
As he also did two weeks ago at Circuit of The Americas, Keating started the No. 66 machine from the GTC pole courtesy of Damien Faulkner’s qualifying efforts on Friday. Keating kept the TRG Porsche well in contention throughout his opening stint before giving way to Faulkner to close out the race and secure the victory.
“It was just a dream weekend, to be honest, from start to finish," Faulkner said. “We could be a lot more aggressive since we’re not in the championship hunt but Ben did a great job at the start. He felt bad giving me the car in second, but imagine being disappointed to be in second. The team did a great job, we didn’t make any mistakes, and they made the car perfect. It ran flawlessly all day. Thanks to the TRG team for doing a great job and hitting our strides today. I said over the radio, knowing everyone could hear it, “I’ll fight to the death today."
Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil extended their lead in the GTC driver championship with a second-place run at VIR in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Alex Job Racing. Heading into the season finale, the duo leads Henrique Cisneros by 13 points, 131-118, with 24 points still available.
Cisneros and co-driver Sean Edwards took third in the No. 30 MOMO Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for NGT Motorsport. Also still alive in the GTC championship chase are No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup co-drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache Jr., with 115 points. Pumpelly and Canache finished seventh on Saturday.
The Oak Tree Grand Prix will be televised on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 6. The 2013 American Le Mans Series season closes with the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 19.
– I fully expected to come to a demoralized series where everyone was simply using up old equipment and preparing for goodbyes. Instead, I found teams that very much are planning for next year, with the notable exception of two P1 teams. For those (like me) who haven't kept pace of the details: IMSA will be the sanctioning body of the new unified series.
"Tudor" is the name of the watch, made by Rolex, that will sponsor the thing — I was told it wasn't cheap, but not as expensive as a Rolex. "Grand-AM" per se goes away, but unfortunately, so does P1. The P2 cars will run with the Grand-Am DP (Daytona Prototype) cars in a single class. The Delta car will be considered a P2 car, which is about the speed it ran all weekend. And the rest of the cars? Well, most of those teams have multiple logos sewn onto their jerseys already, as they have been running in both series for some time, simply putting racing tape over the "wrong" logo each weekend.
– Katherine Legge would love to come back to IndyCar, especially to do the Indy 500, but she's very happy to be in the ALMS. After all, driving the Delta car, she arguably has the best job in sports car racing. Certainly she has her hands full — "Veeery Interesting" as she said — but she's smiling, smiling a lot. "Not many have driven the Delta" she exclaimed, and described with a lot of pride working with a team as they first debugged their open-cockpit car, and then turned their attention to the current closed-cockpit "coupe". She also described DTM as "Europe's NASCAR", kinda — "There is nothing really like it here" she said.
– Ryan Briscoe couldn't comment on IndyCar rumors that has him signing with Panther. Given his performance today, it's easy to see why he's still a hot property. Given Panther's struggles, it's easy to see why they'd want him.
– Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR, spent some time today talking to the press about future improvements to VIR. They know that VIR has a reputation for being a "tight" track, so they're widening a few sections of it when they repave the entire thing this fall. Mostly, the widening will be in Turn 1, but also where it passes under the overpass. The combination of new pavement as well as widening a few "tight" places should make for some new track records.
The oak tree, the defacto trade mark of the course as well as the thing lending its name to this event, blew down on July 1 (they figure it was "born" in spring 1813). It might be replaced, but if so, not in the same spot, as the visibility in that tight corner is much better sans tree. For the record, the turning radius of that corner was determined by the turning radius of the bulldozer that was used in track construction. For those even more curious, Turn 1 turn radius is said to be the turning radius of a 1955 Mercedes which was owned by the designer.
Track officials want the venue to become a "spectator" course as much as a "sportsman" course. They have track engagements virtually every day of the year, and sometimes more than one at a time, but they recognize that they need to add fan amenities for events like ALMS aka United events. They are moving the start-finish line to the end of pit row to make it more fan-friendly, and after they get done with the pavement, they'll turn their attention to things like grandstands.
1. (2) Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr (6-P1), HPD ARX-03c, 84 laps
2. (1) Johnny Mowlem/Guy Smith (16-P1), Lola B12-60 Mazda, 84
3. (3) Scott Tucker/Ryan Briscoe (551-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 83
4. (9) Anthony Lazzaro/Scott Sharp (01-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 83
5. (4) Stefan Johansson/Guy Cosmo/Marino Franchitti (552-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 83
6. (8) Chris Cumming/Kyle Marcelli (8-PC), ORECA FLM09, 81
7. (7) Jonathan Bennett/Tom Kimber-Smith (05-PC), ORECA FLM09, 81
8. (12) James French/Rusty Mitchell (7-PC), ORECA FLM09, 81
9. (15) Olivier Beretta/Matteo Malucelli (62-GT), Ferrari F458 Italia, 80
10. (20) Colin Braun/Patrick Long (06-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 79
11. (21) Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen (3-GT), Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, 79
12. (16) Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller (56-GT), BMW Z4 GTE, 79
13. (14) Bill Auberlen/Maxime Martin (55-GT), BMW Z4 GTE, 79
14. (22) Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner (4-GT), Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, 79
15. (19) Dominik Farnbacher/Marc Goossens (91-GT), SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V-10, 79
16. (23) Wolf Henzler/Bryan Sellers (17-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 79
17. (18) Kuno Wittmer/Jonathan Bomarito (93-GT), SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V-10, 77
18. (25) Ben Keating/Damien Faulkner (66-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
19. (26) Cooper MacNeil/Jeroen Bleekemolen (22-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
20. (28) Henrique Cisneros/Sean Edwards (30-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
21. (30) Mike Hedlund/Jan Heylen (11-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
22. (31) Seth Neiman/Dion von Moltke (44-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
23. (32) Patrick Dempsey/Andy Lally (27-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 75
24. (27) Nelson Canache Jr./Spencer Pumpelly (45-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 73
25. (10) Ryan Booth/Tristan Nunez (18-PC), ORECA FLM09, 73
26. (6) Mike Guasch/Dane Cameron (52-PC), ORECA FLM09, 69
27. (11) Mirco Schultis/Renger van der Zande (81-PC), ORECA FLM09, 67
28. (24) Bill Sweedler/Townsend Bell (23-GT), Ferrari F458 Italia, 67
29. (17) Bryce Miller/Marco Holzer (48-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 50
30. (29) Jakub Giermaziak/Eduardo Cisneros (31-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 47
31. (13) Andy Meyrick/Katherine Legge (0-P1), DeltaWing LM12 Elan, 40
32. (5) Ed Brown/Johannes van Overbeek (02-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 31