Michelin teams conquer the corkscrew
Conventional wisdom is that The Corkscrew, the signature section of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is too steep, too fast and too narrow for the top, high speed Prototypes of the American Le Mans Series to pass, but Michelin tires and driver confidence proved that view to be highly outdated today in the ALMS Monterey.
Co-driving with Klaus Graf, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda driver Lucas Luhr twice made stunning “all-in” Corkscrew passes for the lead. The second place finishing Rebellion Racing Toyota of Neel Jani, teamed with Nick Heidfeld, countered with a late race move of his own in a see-saw battle in the four-hour event at the 2.238 circuit.
Both are Michelin technical partner teams. Michelin teams combined for victories in all three ALMS open competition classes and took the top four positions overall here at the third stop on the 2013 ALMS season, as the P2 class winning Level 5 squad of Marino Franchitti, Scott Tucker and Ryan Briscoe combined to finish third and fourth overall.
“The track here has very big temperature spreads,” said Luhr, now the all-time leader in ALMS career victories with 43 wins. “As soon as the temperature drops, you feel it in the car and the track gets very difficult, as cars get off-line and kick up sand and dirt.”
“Today was a fantastic day for sports car racing, said Graf. “ I am proud of the team. It was very close all race and the Rebellion is actually a bit faster on the straightaways but we able to make a few changes during the race and Lucas has the confidence to make the big moves.”
Finally! Corvette Racing’s Magnussen-Garcia Win GT
After scoring at least one victory in each of his first 11 seasons of American Le Mans Series competition, Corvette Racing factory driver Jan Magnussen saw his streak end last fall, but has now started a new win string, this time with first time ALMS winner co-driver Antonio Garcia.
After starting fifth in GT class, Magnussen moved smartly to the GT lead on lap 27 and held it throughout his entire stint before handing off to Garcia, who delivered the second victory of the season for Corvette Racing.
The BMW Team RLL No. 56 of Dirk Muller, teamed here with newcomer John Edwards finished third in GT as Edwards claimed his first ALMS podium.
Michelin Comment: Ken Payne, technical director motorsports, Michelin North America.
“It is a compliment to the quality and depth of our GT technical partners and the innovations and dedication of our Michelin engineers that on a day when our pole winning Ferrari, Sebring winning Corvette, Long Beach winning BMW, Long Beach podium finishing SRT Viper and both of our Porsches all encountered mechanical problems or penalties but we still achieved a Michelin GT victory with Corvette and third place with BMW.”