It has been a long, tough road for Corvette Racing since they committed to exit the “ghost” GT1 class - where they were running largely unopposed and ended up racing each other - in favor of running in the ultra-intense GT2 class in the American Le Mans Series, where the competition from factory-supported entries from Ferrari, Porsche and BMW is brutal and unforgiving. As a matter of fact the team hadn’t won in the GT2 class since August of 2009, when they won at Mosport International Raceway. So the team’s huge win in the 13th running of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta last Saturday night was both gratifying - and a relief.
Entries in ALMS (29)
Everything fell into place for Mazda and the Dyson team at Mid-Ohio on Saturday when the Chris Dyson/Guy Smith No. 16 Castrol Mazda MZR-R-powered Lola took the overall win over the No. 1 Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c driven by David Brabham/Simon Pagenaud by .506 of a second, with both first and second place racers setting their fastest race laps within the last 15 laps of the 119 lap race. It was the first overall win for the Mazda MZR-R engine in ALMS competition (the wins in 2009 were in the LMP2 class), the first ever overall win with BP BioFuels Iso-butanol fuel and the first overall win for Dunlop in the ALMS (which finally ended Michelin’s incredible 50-race win streak). Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker (No. 55 Level 5 Racing) finished third overall and took the win in the LMP Challenge class running the entire two hour, 45-minute race without changing tires. Considering that ALMS cars must start the race on their qualifying tires and Bouchut ran a session-high 15 laps in qualifying to take the pole, the duo covered 130 laps or 293 miles on a single set of Michelin non-confidential specification tires. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari driven by Gianmaria (Gimmi) Bruni and Jaime Melo took its third win of the season and moved into second place in the GT championship. The No. 4 Corvette C6R driven by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta battled the Risi Ferrari entry throughout the race, finishing second. The E10-fueled HPD Highcroft Racing prototype driven by Brabham and Pagenaud captured their second MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge win of the season and the E85R-fueled No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long also scored their second MICHELIN GREEN X GT win of the season.
Bill Auberlen’s name will forever be associated with BMW. He passed his 250th race start in a BMW-powered car earlier this season and has been adding to it with drives this season in the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing M3 in ALMS, as well as in Grand Am Rolex GT and Continental Challenge with Turner Motorsport. Auberlen has been one of the fastest drivers in sports car racing for fifteen years and has raced just about every type of car, from street stock BMWs in World Challenge and Continental Challenge to Grand Am Daytona Prototypes and cutting edge GT cars. He’s also driven the BMW V12 LMR prototype and has raced at Le Mans in the McLaren F1 GTR. Along the way, he’s won six championships (four of them in BMWs). We caught up with Bill before and after the Lime Rock ALMS race.
There was no shortage of drama at Lime Rock Park, site of the 2010 American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. And we’ve got the photos to prove it. Check out the Postcards From The Edge by Rick Dole, Regis Lefebure and John Thawley.
At the end of the day, Muscle Milk Team CytoSport and Porsche were the big winners in Round 5 of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Porsche was a winner three times over. Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister won for the third time together at the circuit for Flying Lizard Motorsports in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. TRG’s Andy Lally and Henri Richard won in GT Challenge, the first victory for each in the Series.
In LMPC, G-Oil’s Green Earth Team Gunnar used a one-stop strategy to win its second race of the year with Elton Julian and Gunnar Jeannette teaming in their ORECA FLM09.
Next up is a return trip to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge. The two-hour, 45-minute race – Round 6 of the 2010 championship – is set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 7. Live race and qualifying video will be streamed online at americanlemans.com. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche – a production of Radio Show Limited – as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242. The race will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 15 on CBS Sports. Visit the Series’ schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.
Porsche wins in class for first time since 2007
Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler won at the 24 Hours of the Le Mans for the first time Sunday, the German winning in GT2 for Team Felbermayr Proton and its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Henzler - who drives for Team Falken Tire with Bryan Sellers in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron - won by two laps with Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz.
Porsche won at Le Mans in GT2 for the first time since 2007. As was the case throughout the race, GT2 was a battle of attrition. The leading Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 fell out in the 10th hour, and Corvette Racing’s two factory Corvette C6.Rs retired within three hours of each other.
Jury is still out, he says. ‘Don’t fix it if it’s not broken’
One of the big pieces of news last week from Le Mans was the elimination of the GT1 class from ACO-sanctioned endurance racing starting in 2011. Instead, the governing body of the Le Mans 24 Hours will focus on a single GT. It’s much the same structure currently in place in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
“It’s another example of the ACO frankly following our lead,” Series President and CEO Scott Atherton told SPEED at Le Mans. “We made that decision about a year that we were just going to recognize GT2.”
Ok. I’ll be honest. I have a love/hate relationship with the Long Beach Grand Prix. I hate it because it’s more pop festival than racing (see Tecate Rock and Roar). I love it because it’s high energy everywhere you go. I hate it because it’s more about walking around people watching than race watching. I love it simply because I love all things American Le Mans.
As our Brit racing enthusiast friends might say, “It was a proper motor race.” And then some. Forget the fact that the Long Beach street circuit suffers from intense “CSS” disease (can’t see shit), and forget the fact that parts of the “track” are akin to racing around inside a shopping mall, the fact of the matter is that the American Le Mans Series put on a great show late Saturday afternoon here in Southern California, a show that even put the following day’s IndyCar race to shame in terms of sheer intensity and drama.