Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf clinched their third successive American Le Mans Series win of the season under difficult conditions at Lime Rock.
Warm temperatures of around 95 degrees took their toll on several drivers who required medical attention upon completing their stints through exhaustion and dehydration.
Over-eagerness caused poleman Luhr to force a restart at the beginning of the race, which Chris Dyson took full advantage of in the Dyson Racing Lola to lead during the opening phase. Luhr was relentless in his pursuit and finally put his Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD back into the lead on lap 57, when he overtook Dyson under braking into Turn 1.
From there, Luhr romped off into the distance and his charge to victory, which teammate Klaus Graf took once they swapped driver responsibilities in the last hour, was made easier as the Dyson crew encountered difficulties during their first pit stop.
“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 Dyson squad, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary at Lime Rock, had to assist Guy Smith after the one-hour mark when the Brit's seatbelts became tangled after Dyson left the cockpit, causing the duo to lose several laps as a result.
Ryan Briscoe took LMP2 honors for Level 5 Motorsport, although this is under scrutiny after he rear-ended race-long class leader Guy Cosmo into the barriers on the penultimate lap. The Extreme Speed Motorsports driver still managed to finish second in his battered HPD.
“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 [prior to the Cisneros-von Moltke incident]. 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 and Duncan Ende drove a fautless race for RSR Racing and emerged LMPC winners, with Jonathan Bennett and Colin Braun's CORE ORECA always in hot pursuit and coming home second.
The GT categories were typically action-packed. Class of the field was Dirk Muller, who secured GT victory in the BMW Z4 alongside John Edwards, while Nelson Canache Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly converted their GTC pole into victory with a similar sublime drive.
“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.”
“Racing the Z4 this season came very late,” Muller said. “It was a short winter, but to be this good so soon is not surprising racing with BMW. Leading the championship is great, but it's still a long way. I know we have a lot left.”
Results - 184 laps:
Pos Cl Driver Team Time/Gap
1. P1 Graf/Luhr Pickett HPD 2h45m41.407s
2. P1 Dyson/Smith Dyson Lola-Mazda + 6 laps
3. P2 Briscoe/Tucker Level 5 HPD + 6 laps
4. P2 Sharp/Cosmo Extreme Speed HPD + 6 laps
5. PC Junqueira/Ende RSR FLM + 7 laps
6. PC Braun/Bennett CORE FLM + 7 laps
7. P2 Franchitti/Tucker Level 5 HPD + 8 laps
8. PC Nunez/Booth Performance Tech FLM + 8 laps
9. P2 Brown/van Overbeek Extreme Speed HPD + 8 laps
10. PC Marcelli/Cumming BAR1 FLM + 9 laps
11. PC Schultis/van der Zande DragonSpeed FLM + 10 laps
12. PC Guasch/Cheng PR1 FLM + 12 laps
13. GT Edwards/Muller RLL BMW + 12 laps
14. GT Garcia/Magnussen Corvette + 12 laps
15. GT Long/Kimber-Smith CORE Porsche + 12 laps
16. GT Martin/Auberlen RLL BMW + 13 laps
17. GT Wittmer/Bomarito SRT Viper + 13 laps
18. GT Gavin/Milner Corvette + 13 laps
19. PC Mitchell/Drissi BAR1 FLM + 14 laps
20. GT Miller/Holzer Falken Porsche + 15 laps
21. GT Sellers/Henzler Falken Porsche + 15 laps
22. GT Bell/Sweedler West/AJR Ferrari + 16 laps
23. GTC Pumpelly/Canche Flying Lizard Porsche + 20 laps
24. GTC Heylen/Hedlund JDX Porsche + 22 laps
25. GTC Faulkner/Keating TRG Porsche + 23 laps
26. GTC Stanton/Ostella TRG Porsche + 23 laps
27. GTC Neiman/von Moltke Flying Lizard Porsche + 25 laps
28. GTC Dempsey/Lally Dempsey Porsche + 26 laps
GT Beretta/Malucelli Risi Ferrari 167 laps
GTC Bleekemolen/MacNeil Alex Job Porsche 159 laps
GTC Armindo/Cisneros NGT Porsche 145 laps
P1 Meyrick/Legge DeltaWing 102 laps
GT Farnbacher/Goosens SRT Viper 25 laps