Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud won the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix on Saturday at Lime Rock Park as the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a benefited from a puncture on the Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura with 13 minutes left while leading.
De Ferran and Pagenaud haven’t lost since the St. Petersburg street race in early April. Pagenaud crossed the finish line 43.776 seconds ahead of David Brabham, who shared with Scott Sharp.
"Today the show was on and I think the fans had a good time," grinned the 25-year-old Frenchman. "The car was really good at the beginning, though we developed a little bit of understeer at the end. I made the decision to change all four tires as I was worried about punctures, which is what happened later to Highcroft. There was lots of debris out there and I wanted to be safe by changing all the tires -- I'm glad that it paid off. I'm very happy for the whole de Ferran team that we were able to extend our winning streak to three."
Team owner Gil de Ferran was equally delighted.
"We built a good lead at the start, but as the race continued and traffic becomes a factor, the gap would vary massively," related the Brazilian. "I had a moment where I got sideswiped by one of the other prototypes and I lost a little bit of time. Also, while navigating turn 5, I mistakenly hit the pit lane speed limiter button, which caused the car behind me to run into me, causing some minor damage and a bit more time lost.
"Once Simon got in the car everything was going well and he kept the lead, but Highcroft pitted after us and could react to what we did on the last stop by only taking two tires, which put them a bit ahead of us on the track," continued de Ferran. "Unfortunately for them -- and fortunately for us -- they got a puncture in one tire and we were able to take back the lead. Regardless, it was going to be an interesting race all the way to the finish. I think in general we had a little edge on pace, so it's a shame that we couldn't race them till the end. The car was really fast and we're very happy to get the win, this is our third win in a row. It is important that we keep focused and don't let off."
Brabham said: "Today was a bit of a roller coaster, but I am not too disappointed because we did everything we needed to do in this race. We got ourselves in front and I had the race under control, but unfortunately I got a puncture and when the competition is that close you can't afford to have anything like that happen."
Johnny Mowlem and Stefan Johansson completed the LMP1 podium in their Corsa Motorsports Ginetta-Zytek's first outing in its full hybrid configuration.
Dyson Racing won for the first time in the series since 2005 as Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti broke a four-race victory streak for Lowe’s Fernandez Racing and Acura in the class. Franchitti moved ahead of Luis Diaz five minutes into the race, and the Lola-Mazda coupe gained valuable laps when the Acura pitted to replace its rear shock and also experienced downshift problems.
By the time Adrian Fernandez rejoined the race, Franchitti led by six laps, but Leitzinger gave the team a late scare with a brief stall when he had to avoid a spinning GT2 car.
Franchitti scored his first victory in the ALMS and Leitzinger was part of the Dyson victory at Mosport four years ago, also in a Lola chassis.
Jorg Bergmeister won in GT2 for the fourth straight year, and he and Patrick Long extended their class victory streak to four races. The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, a new tub since its last race at Utah, won by a lap.
Reigning Le Mans class winners Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer finished second for Risi Competizione in their Ferrari F430 GT. Kaffer started first in class before Long bumped and passed his way past the Ferrari early on. BMW Rahal Letterman Racing’s Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand placed third in class with their BMW M3, the pairing’s first podium of the year.
Bob Faieta and Wesley Hoaglund won the Challenge class in their Gruppe Orange Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry. They appeared headed for a runner-up finish before the leading Snow Racing Porsche suffered a failed starter on its last stop.
ORBIT Racing’s Ed Brown and Bill Sweedler were second in class, with a second Gruppe Orange entry of Nick Parker and Donald Pickering in third.RESULTS:
Pos Drivers Car Time/Gap
1. Gil de Ferran/Simon Pagenaud Acura 2h45m14.053s
2. David Brabham/Scott Sharp Acura +43.776
3. Johnny Mowlem/Stefan Johansson Ginetta-Zytek +7 laps
4. Butch Leitzinger/Marino Franchitti Lola-Mazda +12 laps
5. Jorg Bergmeister/Patrick Long Porsche +17 laps
6. Tony Burgess/Chris McMurry Lola-AER +18 laps
7. Adrian Fernandez/Luis Diaz Acura +18 laps
8. Jaime Melo/Pierre Kaffer Ferrari +18 laps
9. Joey Hand/Bill Auberlen BMW +18 laps
10. Wolf Henzler/Bryce Miller Porsche +19 laps
11. Richard Westbrook/Johannes Stuck Porsche +21 laps
12. Dominik Farnbacher/Ian James Panoz-Ford +21 laps
13. Johannes van Overbeek/Seth Neiman Porsche +25 laps
14. Joel Feinberg/Chris Hall Dodge +26 laps
15. G.van der Steur/Adam Pecorari Radical-AER +27 laps
16. D. Robertson/A. Robertson/D. Murry Ford +31 laps
17. Wesley Hoaglund/Bob Faieta Porsche +35 laps
18. Ed Brown/Bill Sweedler Porsche +38 laps
19. Nick Parker/Don Pickering Porsche +40 laps
20. Martin Snow/Melanie Snow Porsche +42 laps
21. Dirk Müller/Tom Milner BMW +42 laps
J. Field/C. Field/C. Ducote Lola-AER 38 laps
Chris Dyson/Guy Smith Lola-Mazda 63 laps
John Baker/Guy Cosmo Porsche 52 laps