Risi Competizione have scored their first victory of 2013 as they stormed to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT win, but it was Corvette Racing who gained the most plaudits claiming both the ALMS GT Teams and Manufacturers titles.
Starting in P1, Guy Smith looked like he could give Muscle Milk Pickett Racing a run for its money at the head of the field in what is set to be his final ALMS race. At the start the pole sitting Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda of Johnny Mowlem got out dragged to turn one by Klaus Graf in the Pickett HPD and from then on it seemed a certainty for the team to carry on their seven race winning streak.
However even the best make mistakes, Lucas Luhr went off the road at Oak Tree Corner – minus the fabled oak tree – and let Yorkshireman Smith through into a brief lead. In the end even the turbo power of the AER built engine could not keep Luhr from winning his 49th ALMS race. Thankfully for P1 fans, Rebellion Racing should be back for the final ALMS race at Road Atlanta in two weeks time.
In P2 it was a run of the mill victory for Ryan Briscoe in the Level 5 Motorsports machine who held off early pace setters Anthony Lazzaro/Scott Sharp to win by 17 seconds and give team boss Scott Tucker a healthy boost in the points standings. One incident of note in the class was the fuel fire suffered by Johannes van Overbeek in the #02 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry, started in the pits the team extinguished the flames only for Overbeek to discover the flames had damaged the electrics and had to pull off on the back straight.
Another incident that saw an ESPN cameraman become the stuff of legend was in the hard fought GT class, the incident – occurring just minutes after the end of a safety car period to put out a grass fire – saw the Paul Miller Racing GT Porsche collide with the #31 NGT GTC Porsche Cup car. The affect of minor contact was jarringly spectacular, the NGT car somersaulted down the tyre wall missing a marshals hut by a mere two feet, eventually coming to rest on top of the wall. Thankfully both drivers were fine and big praise must be given to Porsche for building such sturdy racing cars.
At the front end of GT it was Matteo Malucelli who will be the happiest leaving the penultimate ALMS round of 2013, he scored his first ever ALMS victory at the wheel of the Risi Ferrari which scythed through the field in the final thirty minutes. Even the strong running Core Autosport car at the hands of Patrick Long could not keep Risi at bay for their first win in their comeback season.
Malucelli’s co driver Olivier Beretta said: “We have been unlucky since Sebring, and at Long Beach, and Laguna we had pole. The luck has not been on our side. I’m really happy for Risi and Matteo, it is his first win. I hope to go to Petit (Le Mans, Oct. 19) and get another win for this team. The 458 is a great car, but coming out this season we struggled a bit. To get the win now is great for the team, and to get a win for Ferrari. Now we’ll go to Petit and do our best.”
Scoring a third place at the hands of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, Corvette Racing once again won the ALMS GT Teams and Manufacturers titles following a stunning run from almost the back of the GT field. The only title left to decide is the driver’s championship with Magnussen and Garcia 16 points ahead of Dirk Muller with only 24 points available at Petit.
Into GTC and it was Irishman Damien Faulkner who came out all smiles following his second win in as many races racing for TRG, after shutting out Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper Macneil in the #22 WeatherTech entry.
Faukner, who still doesn’t have a drive for next year, commented: “We could be a lot more aggressive since we’re not in the championship hunt but Ben did a great job at the start. He felt bad giving me the car in second, but imagine being disappointed to be in second. The team did a great job, we didn’t make any mistakes, and they made the car perfect.”
Finally in PC Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming also scored their second consecutive win, but it was Tom Kimber-Smith and Jon Bennett who will be looking at the result favourably after getting a good result over their championship rivals.
Their rivals, Mike Guasch and Dane Cameron in the PR1 Mathiesen Motorsports car, were clipped by a P2 early on in the race and spent ten laps behind the wall undergoing repairs, they eventually finished in fifth place in the ALMS PC category.
The last ever ALMS race, capping 14 years of top flight American Sports car racing, will be Petit Le Mans in just under two weeks time.