Chris Dyson and Guy Smith emerged victorious from a two-hour 45-minute battle with rivals Muscle Milk AMR at the Northeat Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut.
Dyson led from the drop of the green flag, but with Lucas Luhr tucked almost directly under the rear win of the Lola-Mazda following the American as the pair sliced through traffic on the 1.5 mile bullring of a race track. With traffic management the crucial point Luhr briefly stole the lead when Dyson was delayed by a slower GT car. However, it was almost immediately Luhr's turn to get blocked by the same GT car, handing the advantage back to Dyson.
Luhr was able to wrestle the lead more decisively from Dyson on a handful off occasions, and crucially the Lola-Aston Martin, with Klaus Graf now in the cockpit, was able to beat Smith out of the pits when the two leaders pitted together under a full cause caution brought out by the GTC pole sitter stopping at turn 1.
However, soon after the race went back to green Graf was clipped by the GMG Racing GTC class Porsche. The slight contact, which came around the long corners that begin a Lime Rock lap, was enough to push Graf into a spin, handing the lead to Smith and Dyson Racing, ultimately for good.
“It was great fun,” Dyson said of his opening stint. “Lucas and I were going back and forth from the get-go. It was all about where you positioned yourself. It felt a bit like a video game. Our Mazda was fantastic from the start. I think the car really came into its own at the end of the race. We were lucky to catch the yellow when we did. They fought us hard all the way like they always do.”
Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane claimed third overall on their ALMS bow, though the second Dyson Racing entry was five laps off the pace after a number of spins during the race and an electrical problem that forced them to start from the pitlane, putting them a lap down early on.
BMW Team RLL kept up their dream 2011 in GT, the Joey Hand/Dirk Muller combo converted pole position into a race win, holding of Flying Lizard Motorsports' Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister. Long had squeezed the Porsche into the BMW 1-2 from qualifying in the early laps, and hounded the rear bumper of the BMW for almost the race's entire duration. Bergmeister was chasing down the BMW ahead in the closing stages of the race, but the chase was cut short when the Porsche works driver had to pit with a puncture.
Perhaps the biggest turning point in the GT battle was a chain reaction accident in the first hour that knocked both Corvettes – running fourth and fifth early on – the second BMW and the no.02 Extreme Speed Motorsport Ferrari out of contention. The field at the front thinned somewhat, different team where given the chance to run for podiums. Team Falken Tire were the team to make the most of the slice of luck, Wolf Henzler chasing down the lead duo with pace to spare.
An earlier pitstops than the leaders dented the team's aspirations of victory, but kept them in with a chance of a podium. The turquoise and blue Porsche did cross the line in third, but was given a 90 second penalty for some vociferous and obvious blocking out of the final turn of the final lap to try and stop Anthony Lazzaro from taking third. Lazzaro lost out on track – suffering front bodywork damage as he sought a way round the Porsche – but gained another podium for Robertson Racing to match their GTE-AM Le Mans accolade.
Eric Lux and Elton Julian won the LMPC class while TRG recorded a 1-2 finish in GTC after a topsy-turvy final lap during which the top four in class re-arranged themselves. Dion von Moltke came out of the Diving Turn first in the car he shared with Mike Piera, relegating the sister car of Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende to second.
“That was the craziest race I’ve ever done,” von Moltke on americanlemans.com described what happened in the final turns. “With two hours left we were a lap down but kept fighting to the lead lap. The call that really won us the race was from the TRG guys to take left-side tires.”
“I guess luck fell our way. The Falken car was really slow in a straight line but would get by us in the corners. He got by Spencer and then Spencer went to the outside at West Bend to overtake. They went two wide and I shoved it in there at the Downhill.”
Butch Leitzinger and Bill Sweedler completed the class podium ahead of the Black Swan Racing entry that had held the lead for much of the race before a late race pitstop – reportedly to close the rear deck lid on the Porsche – dropped them down the order.