• Klaus Graf and his teammates on the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing team will be contributing blogs to RACER.com throughout the American Le Mans Series season.
I'm very happy to be writing my first blog for RACER.com and, unlike my Muscle Milk Aston Martin teammate Greg Pickett after Sebring, I have great stuff to write about. However, while we had a perfect race day, picking up my third overall win in the ALMS and first in Long Beach, it wasn't exactly a perfect weekend.
It was a busy week for me heading into Long Beach. I'm also part of the CytoSport company in Europe and while we were in Long Beach, the leading international trade show for fitness, wellness and health (FIBO) was going on in Essen, Germany.
I had a lot of work to do before leaving for California and that meant I would only make it into Long Beach on Thursday afternoon – which isn't ideal considering the jet lag from a nine-hour time difference and the schedule we had to deal with at Long Beach.
When it comes to jet lag, though, it's something I'm used to, as I always fly in from Europe for each race. Dealing with it becomes part of my routine. A lot of it is mindset. You really have to tell yourself a lot of things, like when to sleep, what to do, how to eat and what to drink. It's very important and it has a big influence on how you will feel, so that's very crucial. Obviously, it helps that I am not someone who needs 12 hours of sleep, because that would be problematic!
As for the schedule, I can't really complain about the 7:15 a.m. morning practice session, because I was at the track at the same time as the crew around 5:30 a.m. and wide awake! But, by the time the late afternoon/evening qualifying session came around, I could start to feel the jet lag.
We're use to such a different schedule. In a regular ALMS schedule, we're very busy with the running time, engineering meetings and media stuff, so the day goes by very quickly and you don't have time to feel the jet lag. Plus, after so many years of doing this you get into your rhythm and it becomes normal.
However, in Long Beach we had a lot of time to kill, even with the media stuff and engineering meetings. On the bright side, though, the crowd is so big in Long Beach that there's always somebody who wants something, so that helps to keep you busy – but still, more than eight hours between sessions on the same day is a long time!
Lucas Luhr went out first on Friday morning in our Muscle Milk Aston Martin LMP1 coupe in what was our one and only practice session in Long Beach and he had set the pace early. Everything was going great, but at one point he came in for some changes and when he went to go back out, the car wouldn't start. As you might remember, we had a similar issue at Sebring, which was caused by a faulty battery. We knew it couldn't be the battery because we had resolved that issue.
We ended up losing a lot of time in the pits while we were trying to find the cause. Once we thought we had resolved it, with maybe half an hour to go, I was able to get back on track but didn't turn many laps as the session was stopped.
After the red flag period, I went back out and was able to do about a handful of laps at speed, but then I went long in Turn 6 and when I went to start the car, it wouldn't start again. I'll admit that in the moment it was really frustrating, because we thought we had figured out what the problem was, but obviously we hadn't. Anyhow, after sitting there for five minutes, up until the end of the session, the car started again.
While, we were concerned with the car not starting, the fact that I went off on that lap actually helped us determine exactly what the reason behind the problem was. Fortunately, we had plenty of time, and more, between sessions for the crew to resolve the issue before heading into qualifying. And what an exciting session that was!