Muscle Milk Team CytoSport is set to become an Aston Martin Racing Official LMP1 Team Partner for the 2011 American Le Mans Series season, in which the team will compete as Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing.
As part of the association and thanks to the grandfathering rules set by IMSA that are allowing the 2010 LMP1 cars to run in 2011, the team will field an Aston Martin-powered LMP1 car for their assault on the ALMS. The new car replaces the Porsche RS Spyder that the team ran last year.
“There were some interesting options for us in regard to the upcoming season but this was the best one out of all of the possibilities," said team owner/driver Greg Pickett. “Aston Martin offers us a great opportunity to continue to grow from a racing and performance perspective but they also provide us with a great platform to showcase our Muscle Milk brand in both the United States and Europe. We look forward to working with Aston Martin North America in order to maximize marketing opportunities throughout the year as well as giving them the on-track results they deserve.”
The Lola Aston Martin LMP1 car won the European-based Le Mans Series championship in 2009 with Aston Martin Racing. In 2010, it competed in two races in the American Le Mans Series. At the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring it placed third overall and went on to start from pole on the streets of Long Beach and finish a very close second, only three tenths away from victory.
“It's excellent news that Aston Martin Racing will once again have a partner team contesting the whole season in the American Le Mans Series," said George Howard-Chappell, Aston Martin Racing technical director. "The ALMS is one of the most prestigious and respected sports car championships in the world and to have a team of such experience running our LMP1 car will give the team a great opportunity to challenge for the title.”
The partnership with Aston Martin Racing also provides the Muscle Milk squad with the support of an embedded factory engineer throughout the season and gives them access to any of Aston Martin Racing's drivers, in addition to Pickett and returning teammate Klaus Graf.
“It's great news to be returning to the ALMS full time in 2011," said Graf. "We had such great success last year in our first full year in sports car competition as a team and me personally as a driver. As an added bonus, I finished second in the championship and placed third in the prestigious Worldwide Porsche Cup. I couldn't have asked for more.
“To be successful in racing, though, you need a great team and a good car. The performance of our Muscle Milk team is getting stronger all the time and with the decision made by Greg to form a new partnership with Aston Martin Racing to race their LMP1 car, it seems that we should again have the right ingredients to continue our success. Aston Martin is such a prestigious and traditional name in auto racing that it will be an honor for me to drive one of their cars. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in our Muscle Milk design. I can't wait to get in the car and for the fans to again hear the fantastic sound of the V12 Aston Martin engine."
In its first full season in the series, in 2010, the Muscle Milk team placed an impressive second in the LMP championship, including victories at the 12 hours of Sebring, a first overall victory at Lime Rock and another win at Mosport.
The team has shuffled its crew duties slightly, with longtime Pickett Racing team member Mike Halloran taking over the team manager position with Jim Dunford being given the role of technical director. Additionally, last season's chief engineer Brandon Fry has taken a full-time position with the team, while Mike Seymour returns as crew chief.
“We had an unbelievable season last year and we can't wait to start building on that success with our new partner Aston Martin as well as our returning partner Michelin," Pickett added. "The car went through a trouble-free shakedown test last month at the test facility near the Aston Martin factory and we can't wait to get on track with it ourselves and for the season to get under way, even if there is still plenty of work to do before then."
The 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón kicks off with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 19 and will be preceded with a two-day winter test at Sebring on Feb. 9-10.