Monday, September 19, 2011
Porsche GT3 Hybrid Sensation at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - Aston Martin Racing, in its ALMS debut, came out on top with a three lap margin ahead of the Dyson Racing entered Mazda piloted by Dyson and Cochran. The apparent lopsided victory was not indicative of the fact that the LMP1-class battle at Laguna Seca was one of the most competitive of the season. The Gulf-liveried Lola Aston was driven by the team of Mucke and Primat and campaigned by the British Prodrive team. “Nobody made a mistake and [the car] was fast today," Mucke said. "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.”
The second-place finish for Dyson and Cochran was good enough to claim the LMP-1 class championship as well as Manufacturer and Team titles. The team was plagued by several mishaps including a tire puncture and spin, as well as getting stuck in the gravel pit at the Corkscrew. The Dyson-Oryx Lola Mazda of Kane and Leitzinger led the race early on but then made a series of unscheduled pit stops resulting in a drop to third place. The Muscle Milk AMR entry of Graf came in 4th, but 32nd overall. Not a great day for the Lola-Aston that experienced electrical gremlins for most of the race.
The GT class race was won by the Long/Bergmeister/Langenfeld driven Flying Lizard Porsche GT3, their second win in as many races. The end of the race was quite exciting with an aggressive challenge by the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 piloted by Melo. The Brazilian nearly pushed the Porsche into the wall as he tried to race for the white flag, but the Ferrari ran out of fuel on the last lap allowing Bergmeister and the BMW of Hand to claim first and second place class finishes. The second place finish gives Hand/Muller the drivers’ 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.” Though the Ferrari crossed the line third, a 90-sec penalty was assessed by the judges for the contact with Bergmeister resulting in an official 6-th place finish.
The Porsche GT3R Hybrid, running as an un-classed entry, posted a spectacular performance coming in ahead of all the GT cars. The increased fuel efficiency of the hybrid drive allowed them to run with two fewer fuel stops. “The start phase was huge fun, because it was relatively easy to overtake the slower competitors,” said Romain Dumas. “But it’s even more fun because we can apply superior tactics thanks to the lower fuel consumption. We are much more flexible and we made the most of this today.” Richard Lietz stated: “We had the least pit stops of all the teams and showed clearly what the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid can do. We didn’t experience one technical problem and left all the other GT vehicles behind us. Our expectations have been far exceeded.” The California fans loved Porsche Hybrid and were quite taken when the Porsche claimed the GT lead in just a few laps.
The Level 5 Motorsports Honda, the sole entry in LMP2, ran a very clean and trouble free race. Christphe Bouchet posted a best lap that was only 1 second slower than the AMR Lola-Aston’s quickest time. LMPC was won by the Genoa Racing Oreca FLM09 finishing a mere 0.329 seconds ahead of The Core Autosport entry. The TRG Porsche of Pumpelly/Ende took top honors in GTC keeping the championship alive until the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.