Monday, April 16, 2012

HPD, ORECA and Corvette Racing On Top At The Beach

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – Saturday was a spectacular Southern California day for the running of the Long Beach ALMS, the second race of the 2012 series. The Muscle Milk Pickett Racing P1 entry piloted by Graf/Luhr made history by posting their second consecutive overall victory at Long Beach. The #06 Soloson Import ORECA FLM09 of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel finished first in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class (third overall) in Saturday’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach after starting on the pole. Corvette Racing drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin won a hard-fought battle, claiming a GT class victory “at the Beach.”

Starting second behind the #16 Dyson Racing car, Graf/Luhr took the lead 25 minutes into the race, and the HPD prototype dominated thereafter except for a 10-lap stint after pitting for fuel. "It was a great day for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with this historic win,” commented Graf. “Our HPD ARX-03a ran very good all day long with no problems. We had to push very hard though after our pit stop to get back what we lost after coming in for a splash of fuel under yellow. So, I actually got my qualifying in today!”

The No. 4 Compuware Corvette pair completed 84 laps on the 1.968-mile temporary circuit, finishing 4.26 seconds ahead of the runner-up No. 56 BMW. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen brought their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R home in fourth place after a first-lap accident left their car battered and bruised. The win was the first for the Milner/Gavin driver combination, and Milner's first career ALMS victory. "Finally a win!" exclaimed the 26-year-old racer. "I've been racing in the ALMS since 2006, and I've had podium finishes and great races. I felt confident that we had a car today that would be competitive and comfortable to drive. We were racing hard, but I kept a gap around me and it worked out well this time. Today the Corvette Racing team had the best combination, and I'm very happy to be part of that."

The Porsche GT3-RSR teams had a difficult time at Long Beach. A canceled qualifying session on Friday dashed the hopes of Bergemeister/Long Flying Lizard Motorsports entry for a good starting position. Though the street-course is notorious to passing, Long was able to move quickly from 10th to 4th, but a punctured tire, causing them to drop down a lap, dashed their hopes for the podium. The best placing Porsche of Team Falken Tire driven by Henzeler/Sellers managed a sixth place finish. “Rain during the two-hour free practice, resulting in a wet track, and subsequent cancellation of qualifying, did not enable our customer teams enough track time to set up the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for its best performance potential. The competitors who finished ahead of us at Long Beach all have a bigger restrictor – thus more horsepower – than we do. We must work with the American Le Mans Series to find a solution that gives us comparable classification to our competitors in this area,” said Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport.

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