Muscle Milk dominated the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series as it stormed the North East at Lime Rock Park.
Starting in first place, the Muscle Milk HPD was overtaken into Big Bend by the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda which – in the hands of Chris Dyson – put up a strong defence in the opening stint until a slow pit stop and driver change put the Muscle Milk in to a lead it would never give up.
The LMP1 win was built on a marathon drive by Lucas Luhr who drove for two hours of the two hour and 45 minute race before handing over to Klaus Graf for the final 45 minutes fending off both Guy Smith and Chris Dyson who were trying to regain laps lost when the Lola hit reliability issues.
Every cloud has a silver lining however, as Dyson finally got points on the board in both the ALMS drivers and teams championship after what has so far been a very disappointing season for the Poughkeepsie based team.
The battle was far more intense in LMP2 as post race penalties changed the points gained but kept on track positions the same (i.e. Level 5 kept the win but were only given the points value of third place). As the brackets state the Level 5 HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Briscoe and Scott Tucker took the victory on the road with Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo finishing second.
However, Cosmo in the Extreme Speed Motorsports car was leading for most of the last hour of the race but after a safety car was called for the #30 NGT Motorsport car and the #44 Flying Lizards car tangling coming out of Diving Turn – the two P2 front runners were nose to tail in the final three minutes of the race. What happened next saw Briscoe rear end Cosmo into a spin and collecting the wall – however, the damage was not terminal and he managed to get back on track ahead of Marino Franchitti in the #551.
With the penalties applied – ESM gain first place points and the #551 gains second place points. The second ESM car finished fourth with Johannes van Overbeek taking the car across the line.
In GT – BMW Team RLL raced away to victory for the #56 car driven by Dirk Muller and John Edwards but the Corvette of Jan Magnussen/Antonio Gracia pushed them all the way losing out on a class win by only one second. Pat Long gained third for the Core Autosport Porsche even with a quick splash and dash a couple of minutes to avoid running out of fuel.
Team Falken Tires would have been hoping for the spots of rain that were showing on Oliver Gavin’s #3 Corvette would turn into a deluge so that the Falken’s superior rain tyres could help the team salvage a few places having been last in the GT standings for most of the weekend with oversteer issues.
It could have been a potential BMW 1-2 but for Bill Auberlen getting a stop and 60 second hold penalty for avoidable contact with #11 GTC Porsche – the eventual second JDX Racing team.
Although it wasn’t JDX who were in contention for a second place even two minutes from the end – the WeatherTech #11 car were second in the hands of Jeroen Bleekemolen until it was t-boned out of the race by Matteo Malucelli in the Risi Competizione car. The Ferrari ran slightly on to the grass and when the Italian hit the brakes going into Uphill the car snapped out of control and unfortunately the Dutchman was the accidental victim when the Risi car slid across the track.
Winners in the class were Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache Jr. in the #45 Flying Lizard.
Finally LMPC – a category effectively dominated by RSR Racing in the #9 car with Duncan Ende and Bruno Junqueira never looking troubled in their race to the class win and fifth overall – at points they were running as high as second ahead of the Dyson Lola and the Deltawing.
Speaking of which – it was a bad return after the Le Mans break with the car, driven by Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick, never having the pace and eventually retiring with water pressure issues.
The next ALMS race on July 21 when the ALMS crosses the border into Canada for the Grand Prix of Mosport.