Muscle Milk Pickett Racing won its fifth ALMS race in a row, taking the checkered flag at Mid-Ohio a lap ahead of its nearest competitor.
The #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a-Honda started from the pole and drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf kept it ahead through almost the entire race, losing the lead briefly when rivals Dyson Racing tried an unusual pit strategy, bringing in the #16 Dyson Lola-Mazda early and double-stinting its Dunlop tires to pick up track position.
Muscle Milk responded by double-stinting its Michelins, retaking the lead with 48 minutes left in the 2hour, 45-minute contest. The win gives Muscle Milk Pickett Racing a huge lead in championship points with four races left in the season.
Dyson Racing finished second and 13th; the #20 Lola of Eric Lux and Brian marsal, who are brand-new to the class and just learning the car, ran near the front through most of the race until an electrical problem cost them a lot of time late in the race. Guy Smith in the #16 turned in a best lap of 1:13.127 compared to Graf’s best of 1:12.526 in the Muscle Milk; obviously Dyson racing has a little more work to do, but with two cars collecting data, the team has a good chance to advance in the remaining races.
“Winning five races in a row for Muscle Milk is very special,” said driver Lucas Luhr in a team press release. “From the outside it may look easy but the whole team, Klaus and myself, everybody involved, the guys from HPD and Michelin, we all have had to work very hard to achieve all these wins. It’s easy to say ‘You’re wining all the races, it’s easy’, but a race win is never easy and it is very special to win five in a row. I am very proud of our Muscle Milk Pickett Racing crew.”
P2 was another all-out battle between Level 5 and Conquest Endurance. Level 5 brought two cars to the fray this time, with team owner Scott Tucker sharing driving duties with Ricardo Gonzalez in the #95 HPD-ARX-02a-Honda and Christian Bouchut in the #55.
Bouchut took the class win this time, with Martin Plowman in the #37 Conquest Endurance Morgan-Nissan seven seconds back. Tucker brought the #95 home third.
GT … the class defies description, because all the modifiers have been used and over-used. Hammer-and-tongs? Tooth-and-nail? Nose-to-tail? Splitter-to-wing? Race after race the Corvettes, BMWs, Porsches, and Ferraris make every lap exciting.
This time it was the #4 Corvette of Olly Gavin and Tom Milner which took the win, .28 seconds ahead of the #45 Flying Lizard of Jörg Bergmeister and Pat Long. Gavin fought off Bergmeister for the entire final stint, rarely were the two cars separated by as much as half a second.
The #3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia was leading the class when it collided, for reasons yet unknown, with Damien Falkner in the #34 Green Hornet GTC Porsche. Faulkner pitted for a tire and was on his way, though he dropped from second to fourth in class. Garcia was done, the top left front suspension bits torn loose.
LMPC was a heartbreaker for Ryan Dalzeil and Alex Popow in the #06 Core Autosport Oreca Chevrolet. Dalziel was in the lead by 20 seconds when he had to stop for a splash two laps from the finish.
Their sorrow was joy for Rudy Junco and Marino Franchitti in the #52 PR1-Mathiesson Oreca which inherited the class lead. Franchitti was particularly pleased, as he hadn’t yet finished a race since joining the team, bad luck and racing incidents sidelining the car.
GTC went to class veterans Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen, driving for JDX Racing after accident damage sidelined the Black Swan P2 Lola. Papas and Bleekemolen, two-time GTC champs, showed they still knew how to drive a Porsche, beating the #66 TRG Porsche by a lap.
ALMS is off to another beautiful natural road circuit, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for the Road Race Show Case on August 18. Tickets for that event are available through the Road America website.
Driver reactions to follow, eventually.