Michelin wins at Laguna Seca
A season filled with frustration turned to jubilation for former American Le Mans Series champion Adrian Fernandez, the Aston Martin Racing factory team, and the Flying Lizard Porsche of Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister today as both Michelin technical partner teams scored big victories at the Mod Space American Le Mans Monterey.
Fernandez, a regular winner in LMP2 class competition and the 2009 ALMS class champion, claimed his first career overall ALMS victory with co-drivers Stefan Mucke and Harold Primat. Mucke, took the lead in the final 45 minutes of the six-hour race. The team, disappointed in the development of its new car, pulled last year’s car out of the garage for the first time at Silverstone last weekend in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup before winning today in Monterey.
The team will also content the ALMS season finale in Road Atlanta on October 1.
Meanwhile, the 2008 and 2009 ALMS champion Flying Lizard Porsche of Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister scored its first victory of the season, moving from third to first in the final three laps as darkness fell on the hilly 2.238 mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) circuit.
The victory was the sixth of eight races to date in the 2011 American Le Mans Series season and 120th in the 126 race history of the series for Michelin.
“Today was much warmer than the conditions we saw earlier in the week in testing and yesterday in practice and qualifying,” said Karl Koenigstein, Michelin ALMS technical team leader. “We had clear skies and no cloud cover today, so temperatures were higher and that made the track harder on tires. Then, as the sun goes down, the track cools, so we had to work closely with our technical partners to match the tires to the conditions, and anticipate the changes,” said Koenigstein. “We were pleased that our technical partners were able to perform at a high level throughout the entire race.”
One of the race highlights for Michelin was the performance of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Racing “unclassified” as GT class rules are not yet developed for the second-generation flywheel hybrid; the Porsche demonstrated its promise and efficiency by completing the six hour race with just three pit stops compared to five stops for most official GT category entrants to finish one position ahead of the GT winning Flying Lizard Porsche.
The Porsche hybrid, which is equipped with a pair of electric wheel motors in addition to its traditional 465 horsepower six-cylinder engine, also set the fastest GT lap of the race.
“We wanted to be able to compare the performance of the Porsche Hybrid with the Flying Lizard Porsche, our other Michelin technical partners and the competition and we were able to do just that,” said Koenigstein.
Problems with the Muscle Milk Aston Martin prototype, winner of four races this season, saw the team need to return to the paddock for repairs, as rivals Dyson Racing Mazda and drivers Chris Dyson, and Guy Smith secured the season championship with a second place finish today.
Genoa Racing’s Eric Lux and Elton Julian delivered the LMP Challenge class victory despite co-driver Michael Guasch unable to drive due to suffering an ankle injury at the track. The victory edges Lux three-points ahead of CORE autosport’s Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez in the championship with only the 10 Hour/1000 Mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, October 1 remaining.