American Le Mans Series

Luhr Sets ALMS Win Record At Laguna Seca

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A n early driver change from Luhr to Graf paced the way to victory (Photo Credit: Ryan Smith)

Lucas Luhr became the all-time leader in wins in the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguca Seca, taking victory alongside team-mate Klaus Graf.

Luhr made an impressive move through the Corkscrew before taking advantage of a late-race puncture for Neel Jani‘s Rebellion Racing machine. The result means that Luhr and Graf are the first drivers to score repeat victories at Laguna Seca since 2007.

“This was sports car racing at its best,” said Graf “My man Lucas drove a hell of a race. We are a really good sports car paring right now. At the end, it came down to the moves Lucas made in passing Neel. (Both teams) ran the same strategy, a good strategy, but today we have maybe a little better race-craft and a little more luck today for the win.”

Luhr took victory by 6.352 seconds after a one-lap dash to the line following a late caution period. Jani and team-mate Nick Heidfeld led much of the first half of the race, with Luhr’s move at the Corkscrew coming around the two-hour mark. Both cars battled over the final 34 laps, even making contact with 40 minutes of the race remaining.

“After contact, the car was trashed,” explained Luhr. “Aerodynamically it was all messed up and mechanically I could feel the toe-link or something was broken. But I could fight it around. I knew the Rebellion car was much quicker on the straights so I knew (passing Jani in the Corkscrew) would be my only chance. The choice was good, but in the moment I thought maybe it wasn’t such a good idea now that the rumble strips are throwing my car around.”

Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick rounded out the top three in the DeltaWing, with Legge becoming the first woman to secure a podium finish in the P1 class in the ALMS.

The GT class featured a thrilling battle which saw the top five cars separated by less than three seconds, with the Corvette Racing machine of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia taking the spoils, 0.982 seconds ahead of the Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

“I thought today, with as perfect as we’ve been driving, if we don’t get this win, I wouldn’t know what else to do,” said Garcia. “Everything worked, right where it needed to be. I think last year we had something like five second-place finishes, so we really deserved a win or two.”

“Today was one of the most perfect races we’ve had with Corvette Racing,” added Magnussen. “We were under pressure the whole way. We never had a big lead, we really had to work through traffic and not get stopped by the slower cars and lose too much time. It was a matter of being 100 percent precise the whole race.”

The top three in the GT class was completed by the #56 BMW North America machine. After the race, the #17 Falken Porsche failed a stall test, resulting in the team and drivers being stripped of all points and prize money, but retain the race finish.

Elsewhere there were class victories for Level 5 Motorsports in P2, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports in Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tyres and NGT Motorsport in GT Challenge.

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About author
Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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