Graf, Luhr Continue ALMS Domination
MOSPORT, Ontario – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing won for the third straight year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with a victory Sunday in the fifth round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season.
Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won the Grand Prix of Mosport in the No. 6 Honda Performance Development ARX-03a by more than 10 seconds over Dyson Racing’s Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
At race’s end, the P2 and GT battles stole the show. Conquest Endurance’s Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson won their first race in the No. 37 Morgan-Nissan with Plowman’s late-race drive to hold off Level 5 Motorsports’ Christophe Bouchut.
In GT, Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long won their second straight ALMS race with a nail-biting finish that saw the top three cars finishing within 0.781 seconds.
Bergmeister, in the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, first fought off Jan Magnussen in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C6 ZR1, then Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia.
A late caution with 20 minutes remaining bunched up the GT field, which didn’t really need much bunching up anyway.
It put Bergmeister, Magnussen and van Overbeek nose-to-tail with 11 minutes remaining. Magnussen, who teamed with Antonio Garcia in the Corvette, hounded Bergmeister for 10 of those minutes until van Overbeek, driving with Scott Sharp, got around the Dane at the exit of the Turn 5 right-hander.
That move gave Bergmeister just enough breathing room.
The P2 battle was shaping up to be just as dramatic. Bouchut in the No. 055 Honda Performance Development ARX-03b chased down Plowman at the final restart, and each of the cars used traffic to their advantage. Bouchut was too aggressive with five minutes left; he drifted into the pit exit lane and drew a stop-and-go penalty.
Plowman eventually won by 19.713 seconds in a race that the Conquest car led overall for the second straight race.
Back at the front of the grid, Luhr and Graf were firmly in control. Luhr celebrated his 33rd birthday by leading the majority of his opening stint a day after Graf won the pole position on his 43rd birthday. The Muscle Milk entry ran a nearly flawless day. The only blemish was a penalty in the pit lane late in the race.
Other than that, Luhr’s injured ankle was the biggest concern of the day.
RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira and Tomy Drissi won in Prototype Challenge for the first time as a pairing. Junqueira in the No. 9 ORECA FLM09 finished a lap ahead of CORE autosport’s Colin Braun and Jon Bennett in the No. 05 entry.
The victory was the first in ALMS for Junqueira since his jump from open-wheel racing. Drissi was a two-time winner last year in the class. The victory also was the first for RSR after the Paul Gentilozzi-owned team fielded a Jaguar GT effort from 2009-2011.
TRG won the GT Challenge class for the second year in a row at CTMP. Spencer Pumpelly took advantage of late engine troubles for JDX Racing and drove the No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to a 1.440-second victory over Alex Job Racing’s Leh Keen.
Pumpelly drove with Emilio Di Guida, who took his first ALMS victory in May at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Keen and teammate Cooper MacNeil kept AJR in the team championship lead, and MacNeil continues to lead the driver championship.
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