Highcroft Racing came from the back of the 35-car grid to take victory by seven laps in an incident-packed six-hour American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca.
Having lost their front row slot when the officials judged that the minimum mileage per driver in Friday practice had not been achieved, Highcroft HPD trio David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti had to start last.
While Pagenaud made rapid progress through the field, Intersport's Clint Field took second from Klaus Graf's CytoSport Porsche off the line and then overhauled the pole-sitting Dyson Lola-Mazda further around the opening lap to take the early lead.
Field led most of the opening hour, though under increasing pressure from Graf, with whom he swapped first place a few times just before a turbo failure ended Intersport's impressive race. By that time Highcroft was up to third and soon passed Dyson for second, with a close three-way lead fight then developing until mistakes on restarts by both Dyson and CytoSport appeared to hand Highcroft an easy win.
First Memo Gidley spun the CytoSport car out of the final corner and collected debris that caused time-consuming gearbox problems. Not long afterwards, Dyson's Andy Meyrick -- who had just taken the lead in the pits - also rotated as he prepared to restart after a safety car, and collected Johnny Mowlem's PR1 LMPC ORECA in the process.
Dyson effected rapid repairs, losing just one lap, which it then caught back up thanks to some wise strategy during safety cars.
That gave Guy Smith a chance to hunt down and pass Franchitti for the lead going into the final hour, although Highcroft's decision not to change tyres at its last stop then put Franchitti ahead again. Before Smith had a chance to give chase, the Dyson Lola-Mazda expired and parked at the trackside, allowing Highcroft to cruise to the win and giving CytoSport second place after all.
Drayson Racing never featured in the lead battle, losing two laps from the outset when Paul Drayson spun into the gravel, and later retiring with gearbox issues.
The GT class saw an incredible battle that featured both Corvettes, both BMWs, the Risi Ferrari and the lead Flying Lizard Porsche and Extreme Speed Ferrari at various stages. In the end it came down to a late shootout between Flying Lizard's Patrick Long, Rahal Letterman BMW's Joey Hand and Corvette's Oliver Gavin, with the Porsche jumping the BMW at the last restart and resisting the pressure to win by just 0.365sec. Front end damage sustained during various bits of minor contact meant Risi was ultimately two laps adrift in fourth.
Level 5's Christophe Bouchut beat Genoa's Tom Sutherland by 7sec after a close race-long LMPC fight, whereas the Black Swan team had a relatively calm run to the GTC class win.
Pos Cl Drivers Car Time/Gap
1. P Brabham/Pagenaud/Franchitti HPD 6h00m09.654s
2. P Gidley/Graf/Maassen Porsche + 7 laps
3. PC Tucker/Bouchut/Wilkins ORECA + 8 laps
4. PC Sutherland/Weickardt/Marcelli ORECA + 8 laps
5. GT Bergmeister/Long Porsche + 10 laps
6. GT Mueller/Hand BMW + 10 laps
7. GT Beretta/Gavin Corvette + 10 laps
8. GT Melo/Bruni Ferrari + 12 laps
9. GT Sharp/van Overbeek Ferrari + 12 laps
10. GT Magnussen/O'Connell Corvette + 13 laps
11. GT Sellers/Henzler Porsche + 13 laps
12. PC Julian/Jeannette/Zugel ORECA + 15 laps
13. GT Auberlen/Milner BMW + 15 laps
14. PC Pagerey/Wong/Ducote ORECA + 15 laps
15. P Dyson/Smith/Meyrick Lola-Mazda + 17 laps
16. GT Krohn/Jonsson Ferrari + 17 laps
17. GTC Pappas/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen Porsche + 18 laps
18. GTC Richard/Villeneuve/Lally Porsche + 19 laps
19. GTC Gonzalez/Leitzinger/Junco Porsche + 20 laps
20. GTC Gonzalez/Diaz/Junco Porsche + 20 laps
21. GTC Miller/McMullen/Hines Porsche + 21 laps
22. GTC Lewis/Aschenbach Porsche + 21 laps
23. GT Robertson/Robertson/Murry Doran Ford + 22 laps
24. GT Law/Neiman/Bernhard Porsche + 24 laps
25. GTC Sweedler/Kapudija/Lueders Porsche + 25 laps
26. GTC Rodriguez/Bieker/Wilson Porsche + 25 laps
27. GTC Beggs/Baron Porsche + 26 laps
28. GT Brown/Cosmo Ferrari + 43 laps
29. GT Dalziel/Goossens Jaguar + 46 laps
P Willman/Burgess/Ehret Lola 170 laps
P Drayson/Cocker/Pirro Lola 108 laps
PC Mowlem/Papadopoulos/Lewis ORECA 107 laps
GTC Curtis/Sofronas/Borcheller Porsche 83 laps
P Field/Field/Konstant Lola 38 laps
PC Tucker/Wallace/Frisselle ORECA 8 laps