The De Ferran Motorsports Acura squad notched up a fourth consecutive American Le Mans Series victory at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. Simon Pagenaud and team boss Gil de Ferran led from start to finish on a day when their only real rival for victory in the LMP1 class hit trouble.
Highcroft Racing was never a force after its Acura ARX-02a sustained bodywork damage when Scott Sharp came into contact with a backmarker shortly before handing the #20 over to David Brabham.
Pagenaud said: "It was a good weekend and we made the right decisions at the right time. The car was behaving perfectly; I was smiling in the car."
Pagenaud converted de Ferran's pole into the race lead and, once the race went green after an early safety-car period, was able to edge away from Sharp. His lead #20 had just crept over the 10-second mark when Sharp clashed with the second Flying Lizards Porsche. The lead went up to nearly half a minute in the remaining four laps of Sharp's stint. Brabham was subsequently unable to respond as de Ferran increased the lead.
"The thing was evil; the damage meant we couldn't respond," said Brabham, who explained that Highcroft's decision to change tires at the final fuel stop under yellow flags backfired. "We'd lost so much downforce, we couldn't get the new tires up to working temperature."
Third place went to the LMP2-winning Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b. Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz were happy to admit that they couldn't match the pace of the best of the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazdas, but a super-fast pitstop during the safety car won them the race.
Team boss Fernandez entered the pits third in class behind Marino Franchitti in the Dyson car and Klaus Graf in the Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder. Not only was the Fernandez team able to get its car out ahead of its class rivals, but it exited the pits ahead of the race leader, which meant it had a lead of a better part of a lap when the safety car pulled in.
Franchitti, who was partnered as usual by Butch Leitzinger, was battling with Graf when he received a double hit from one of the Porsches running in the Challenge class. He spun down to third and then retired a couple of laps later when the rear suspension failed.
The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-RSR driven by Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long dominated the GT2 class. Bergmeister led from the start and Long completed the victory after foregoing a pitstop during the final yellow. The car had just enough fuel to make the finish and notch up the team's fifth GT2 win in a row.
The new GT2 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R claimed second place on its debut. Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen ran second throughout the race, but were never able to mount a challenge for victory. The second car, driven by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta, lost a podium in the closing stages when Dirk Muller edged past in the best of the Rahal-run BMW M3s.
Pos Class Drivers Make Time/Gap
1. P1 de Ferran/Pagenaud Acura ARX 02a 2h45m27.326
2. P1 Brabham/Sharp Acura ARX 02a + 8.358
3. P2 Fernandez/Diaz Acura ARX-01B + 2 Laps
4. P2 Pickett/Graf Porsche RS Spyder + 2 Laps
5. P1 J.Field/C.Field Lola B06/10 + 3 Laps
6. P1 Mowlem/Johansson Ginetta-Zytek 09HS + 4 Laps
7. GT2 Bergmeister/Long Porsche 911 RSR + 10 Laps
8. GT2 Magnussen/O'Connell Chevrolet Corvette + 10 Laps
9. GT2 Mueller/Milner BMW E92 M3 + 11 Laps
10. GT2 Beretta/Gavin Chevrolet Corvette + 11 Laps
11. GT2 Melo/Kaffer Ferrari 430 + 11 Laps
12. GT2 Henzler/Ragginger Porsche 911 RSR + 11 Laps
13. GT2 Farnbacher/James Panoz Esperante + 11 Laps
14. GT2 Hand/Auberlen BMW E92 M3 + 12 Laps
15. GT2 Law/Neiman Porsche 911 RSR + 14 Laps
16. GT2 Murry/Robertson/Roberts Doran Ford GT-R + 16 Laps
17. P2 Leitzinger/Franchitti Lola B09 86 Mazda + 18 Laps
18. Chal Me.Snow/Ma.Snow Porsche 911 GT3 Cu + 18 Laps
19. Chal Baker/Cosmo Porsche 911 GT3 Cu + 20 Laps
20. Chal Hoaglund/Faieta Porsche 911 GT3 Cu + 20 Laps
21. Chal Lewis/Vento Porsche 911 GT3 Cu + 22 Laps
22. P2 van der Steur/Pecorari Radical SR9 + 38 Laps
23. Chal Parker/Pickering Porsche 911 GT3 Cu + 41 Laps
24. P2 Dyson/Smith Lola B09 86 Mazda + 56 Laps
25. P1 Willman/Drissi Lola B06/10 + 78 Laps
26. Chal Brown/Sweedler Porsche 911 GT3 Cu -