The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón got back into action after a seven week break with Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. After finishing fourth and seventh in the world’s premier sports car race, Corvette Racing returns to defend its GT driver, team and manufacturer championships. Corvette has four victories at Lime Rock, but none since 2008.
“At three hours, it seems you run as many laps at Lime Rock as you do at Le Mans because it’s so short,” said Antonio Garcia, who co-drives the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6 ZR1 with Jan Magnussen. The two finished fourth at Le Mans. “You really need to be accurate with your strategy, because you can get caught there. But I’m on the best team to do that, coming off our victory at Laguna Seca. But I’m sure all 11 cars will be right on from lap one.” Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner share the team’s No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6 ZR1 entry. Coming off a seventh-place finish at Le Mans, they are three points out of the GT points lead.
Dominik Farnbacher and Mark Goossens led the SRT efforts at Le Mans with an eighth-place finish. They will co-drive the team’s No. 91 Viper GTS-R at Lime Rock, with Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra entry. Patrick Dempsey and Le Mans co-driver Patrick Long will drive for different teams at Lime Rock after finishing fourth in the French classic. Dempsey will co-drive with Andy Lally in the No. 27 Dempsey Del Piero Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Long returns to the No. 06 CORE autosport Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, where he joins Tom Kimber-Smith, who drove for Greaves Motorsport at Le Mans.
It was Lucas Luhr survived an early battle with Chris Dyson before giving way to co-driver Klaus Graf, who scored the team’s third consecutive victory in the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón competition at Saturday’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. It was the second consecutive Lime Rock victory for the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda Performance Development ARX-03c and their third Northeast Grand Prix victory in their last four attempts.
Dyson, celebrating his team’s 30th anniversary of competing in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60, jumped to an early lead and traded the lead several times with Luhr on the tight 1.5-mile circuit during the opening hour. However a turning point came at the one-hour mark, when both leaders pitted. Luhr quickly returned following routine service, while Dyson Racing lost a lap and a half while Guy Smith relieved Dyson but had trouble tightening his safety belts. From then on, Luhr dominated before turning the car over to Graf with 45 minutes remaining. Graf went on to win, six laps ahead of Dyson and Smith. Luhr and Graf also won the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge for the prototypes. “It’s nice to have a clean race with nothing happening,” said Luhr, extending his record ALMS-leading total to 44 victories. “We’ve made it difficult for ourselves in the past. Today was relatively easy, but we still had to deal with the heat and traffic. We’re happy campers.”
The race was run in humid 88-degree weather, with track temperatures well into triple digits. The racing was slowed on two occasion by two full-course cautions, including one with 15 minutes remaining for an incident involving GT Challenge drivers Henrique Cisneros and Dion von Moltke as a result of that incident it set up an action-packed four-minute and 15-second sprint to the checkered flag.
John Edwards and Dirk Muller teamed to win in BMW Team RLL’s No. 56 Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE. Muller held off a late charge by Antonio Garcia to secure the victory by .905 seconds. It was his 18th career triumph and extended his point lead in a bid for a third championship. It was the first ALMS victory for Edwards, who captured his first pole in the series on Friday. Edwards and Muller also walked away with the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge for the GT class. “Wins like today are the ones that really mean something, when you have to work so hard,” Edwards said. “Winning here was pretty incredible, especially on a day like today.”
Garcia and Jan Magnussen finished second in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Compuware Corvette C6 ZR1, .905 seconds behind. Patrick Long and Tom Kimber-Smith – racing for the second time in the No. 06 CORE Autosport Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 RSR took home third.
Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge took third in the P1 class in the No. 0 DeltaWing LM12. They completed 102 laps before losing water pressure.
Ryan Briscoe bumped his way past Guy Cosmo with 3:30 remaining and held on to win his second race of the season in the No. 551 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b that had started on pole thanks to co-driver Scott Tucker. After the contact, Cosmo returned to finish second with Scott Sharp in the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Tequila Patrón HPD-ARX-03b. Briscoe and Tucker remain the class winners, but IMSA officials penalized the duo seven points, equal to the points earned for a third-place finish (13), where the car would have finished if it served a stop-plus-60-seconds penalty for avoidable contact.
Sharp and Cosmo earned the maximum 20 points from the race, while the No. 552 team of Tucker and Marino Franchitti – which was scored in third place on track – was awarded 16 points, equivalent to what it would have received for finishing second. “It’s a tough call,” Briscoe said. “Guy was doing a great job, but he was certainly using all the road. Certainly what happened going up the hill wasn’t my intention. My nose just tagged his rear and spun him around. It’s not the way we wanted it to go. “I had almost gotten past him so if we had stayed green. I probably could have passed him. The conditions were really tough out there with the heat today, but overall it was just a great win for the team and a fun battle.”
Bruno Junqueira prevailed in a four-minute, 15-second dash to the checkered flag to join Duncan Ende in giving RSR Racing its first victory in the Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire competition with the No. 9 ORECA FLM09. Junqueira had a comfortable lead and ran as high as second overall late in the race, but the late caution allowed pole-winner Colin Braun to close up. Nevertheless, Junqueira held on to win by .905 seconds.
It was the second career ALMS victory for Junqueira, both for RSR Racing. It was the fifth career triumph for Ende. Braun and Jon Bennett finished second in the No. 05 CORE autosport Composite Resources ORECA FLM09, and were joined on the podium by Tristan Nunez and Ryan Booth in the No. 18 Performance Tech Motorsports VisitFlorida.com/Ric Man/Signature MSAP Oreca FLM09.
Spencer Pumpelly scored his fifth career victory, joining first-time winner Nelson Canache Jr. in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Venezuela/eSilicon Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the GT Challenge class. “Nelson had a brilliant opening stint – turning the car over to me in the lead,” Pumpelly said.
The victory enabled the pair to close to within one point of GTC championship leader Henrique Cisneros, who finished eighth after his late-race incident. Jan Heylen and Mike Hedlund finished second in the JDX Racing Hertz Porsche, followed by Damien Faulkner and Ben Keating in the No. 66 TRG Port Lavaca Group/Viper Exchange/Adobe Road Winery Porsche.
The American Le Mans Series will head to the Grand Prix of Mosport presented by Mobil 1 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario on Sunday, July 21.