From the time they unloaded the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder for Wednesday’s test until the red flag which ended the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport race this afternoon, Klaus Graf (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) had the fastest car at the track.
Either one driver or the other lead the field in every test session, every practice session, every warm-up, and for the entire American Le Mans Series race, giving the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder its second overall win and third class win of the 2010 season.
In what turned out to be a banner day for Porsche’s race cars and their customer-team owners, Patrick Long (USA) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) outperformed a tough selection of BMW, Ferrari and Corvette factory race cars in their Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to score their fourth GT class win of the season and close in on their second straight drivers championship.
And, in the GT Challenge class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the Velox Motorsports Porsche of Shane Lewis/Lawson Aschenbach (both USA) scored the team’s first win of the season, and kept Lewis’ championship hopes alive as the Tim Pappas/Jeroen Bleekemolen Porsche, the current GTC points leaders, were second.
The race ended 30 minutes short of the two hours and 45-minute scheduled time as the #8 Drayson Racing Lola clipped the #48 Marquis Jet Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car being driven Luke Hines (England) between turns six and seven, where both cars were at maximum speed. Himes moved over the let the prototype by, but the Lola had not cleared the Porsche when it sent Luke spinning into the guardrail, pushing it back at least six feet from the race track.
Although Hines was okay, after a short period of yellow flag time and a longer period of red flag status, the race organizers determined they could not fix the guardrail up to IMSA safety standards in the time allotted by the TV coverage for the race, so the field was given the checkered flag and the race ended with the cars finishing in the order they were at the beginning of the yellow flag (right before the two-hour mark).
Hines told SPEED TV in a live interview after the race that he was upset about the accident, and, later, the Drayson driver, England’s Jonny Cocker, was penalized in the final results for avoidable .
“I saw the #8 Drayson car coming, and I moved over to the left as far as I could and gave him plenty of room, yet he still hit me. The team worked so hard to give us a competitive car, and we were headed for the win after scoring the pole position – it’s too bad it had to end that way. In GTC, we are responsible for staying out of the way, but the faster cars have a responsibility as well, and I don’t feel that the other driver took that responsibility as seriously as he could have,” said a frustrated Hines.
For the overall Porsche RS Spyder race winners, they felt they would win the race anyway, red flag or not. They were also on the pole and lead the whole way, and season-long driver Klaus Graf is still in contention for the season championship.
“What a great day! We were fastest all weekend, but we were still pushing for the perfect set- up. We found that set-up, and the the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder ran perfectly – the car was incredible. It was a big pleasure having Romain Dumas – one of the best drivers in the world – as a teammate. As we almost lapped the second-place Honda, you can see that the entire crew did a great job with preparation,” said Graf, who had last won at Mosport in the SCCA Trans-Am.
Romain Dumas, who is between his win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and his upcoming stint in the Porsche GT3 R Hybrid at Petit le Mans, said this experience was great.
“The 80 minutes I drove was one of the easiest stints I have ever done. I pushed hard for the first five laps, and we already had a ten-second lead, and the crew was already calling me to slow down to save fuel and tires. Driving a Porsche RS Spyder in front at Mosport – I don’t think a race driver can have more fun,” said Dumas, who, with fellow factory driver Timo Bernhard, won two straight ALMS championships in the Penske Porsche RS Spyder in 2007 and 2008.
The GT battle was another grind-it-out battle, with the Corvettes, BMWs and Ferraris all taking turns leading the race, but the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR prevailed, not only outthinking the other teams, but showing the all-out speed to keep them at bay once they took the lead.
“This has been an unbelievable season – every win has felt so much different because each one is so hard to get. In addition, it was a great feeling to show that we had the speed as well as the strategy and execution to win – this really gives us a boost for Petit Le Mans. We are a single point ahead of BMW and only 11 points ahead of Ferrari in the manufacturers championship, so there is still lots of work to be done, and there will be some additional Porsches at Atlanta to help us. We don’t just want the drivers title – we want it all,” said Long, who won the title with Joerg and the Lizards a year ago as well.
Bergmeister, who also won the GT title with the Lizards in 2008 with Wolf Henzler, agrees that the win was important.
“With a 22-point lead in the GT drivers standings going into the last race, we have a good lead and this gives us even more motivation for Road Atlanta. The win makes us feel good for the possibility of clinching the championship,” said Bergmeister, still the only driver to win ALMS and Rolex Grand-Am championships in the same year.
Other Porsche 911 GT3 RSR finishers including the Team Falken Tire entry of Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA) – seventh; and the Flying Lizard Porsche of Seth Neiman/Darren Law (both USA) – ninth.
As mentioned above, the Bryce Miller/Luke Hines Porsche was clearly the fastest car in GT Challenge, and was in first place right up until the accident, but Shane Lewis has five top-four finishes so far in the class, and today, his Velox Motorsports Porsche broke through for its first win. Although the Pappas/Bleekemolen Porsche is comfortably ahead in the point standings with its second-place finish, Lewis still has a shot at the championship. His co- driver, SCCA World-Challenge champion Lawson Aschenbach, was substituting for Lewis regular co-driver and car owner Jerry Vento. The Battery Tender/Alex Job Racing Porsche of Bill Sweedler and substitute driver Mitch Pagerey (pinch-hitting for Romeo Kapudija, who was injured in a testing crash on Wednesday) finished third despite driving a car that went through a complete re-build at the track Wednesday night and Thursday.