Acura doubles up; Corvette scores first GT2 win
The temperature was a chilly 61 degrees, but action on the track was considerably hotter as Michelin and its technical partner teams claimed victories in all three classes and 11 of the top 12 positions in the Grand Prix of Mosport, the eighth stop of the 2009 American Le Mans Series season.
The cool temperatures, just 71 degrees on the track surface at the race start, and changing conditions throughout the race kept drivers and Michelin race engineers highly focused as light drizzle, brief periods of sunshine and late afternoon cooling winds all appeared during the 2-hour 45-minute race on the historic, hilly 2.459-mile circuit.
Taking its third win of the season and second consecutive overall race win was the Patrón Highcroft Acura driven by David Brabham and Scott Sharp. “You could feel the grip level of the track change as the temperatures changed,” said Brabham. Finishing second was the early race leading de Ferran Motorsports Acura of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud, who were plagued by a gearbox fluid issue that required additional pit stops.
Taking third overall and securing a come from behind LMP2 class victory was the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz. Both the LMP2 leading BP Dyson Mazda of Butch Leitzinger and the chasing Lowe’s Fernandez Acura chose to skip a tire change on their final stop and double-stint their Michelin tires for the final 90 minutes of the race.
“The Michelin tires were perfect, we knew that we could double-stint,” said Fernandez, who after having closed a 15-second gap down to less than a second in the final stages, saw his rivals suddenly lose power and pull off with less than 10 minutes remaining in the 2-hour 45-minute race. The victory, their seventh in eight events, clinched the ALMS LMP2 class season championship for Fernandez, co-driver Diaz, and Michelin.
Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen completed his second stirring drive of the week by prevailing in a side-by side battle for the GT2 class win with Risi Competizione Ferrari to deliver the first win for the new GT2 Corvette C6.R in just its third start.
Last Sunday, Magnussen’s drive home from a touring car race in Denmark took on unexpected excitement when his wife, Christina went into labor 90 minutes from the hospital. “This has been the best week of my life,” said Magnussen. “First, I have a new son, Luca, and now we have the first race victory for the new GT2 Corvette.” The win came in the 100th ALMS start for his co-driver Johnny O’Connell.
“The new GT2 Corvette has been fantastic from the word go,” said Magnussen. “Even the first shake down run was good. We have done no testing since our first race at Mid-Ohio. I didn’t think it was possible for us to win so soon, but our Corvette Racing team and Michelin have been doing an awesome job and we are having fun racing against the BMWs, Ferrari and Porsches.”
Rebounding in storming fashion from a Saturday morning crash that prompted all-night repairs, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer took the Risi Competizione Ferrari from a ninth place starting position to a strong second place. Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta completed a Michelin sweep of the GT2 podium.
“We want congratulate both Lowe’s Fernandez Racing on securing their first ALMS championship and Corvette Racing on the first victory for the new GT2 Corvette,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin Motorsports manager.