Michelin technology delivers Lime Rock success
Top racing teams are trained to recognize that when troubles arise, “it’s all in the recovery.” The American Le Mans Series championship leading Muscle Milk Pickett Honda/Michelin team and drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf proved that truism on Saturday at Lime Rock Park.
An electronic control unit (ECU) problem dropped them from the race lead to nearly four laps behind by mid-race. Recycling the car’s electronics solved the problem and the team stormed back through the field to claim a third consecutive victory of the season here at the Northeast Grand Prix.
Michelin’s innovative “street soft” tires played a key role in the Muscle Milk victory, as the team skipped a tire change to save time during the electronics stop. The winners ran the entire 168 laps of the two hour forty-five minute race on just two sets of the Michelin street soft tires. Ironically, the tires were developed to provide exceptional grip and extended wear at temporary circuits, not places like Lime Rock, where medium or even hard compound tires usually prevail.
“Lucas and I ran qualifying laps every lap for the rest of the race to catch up,” said Graf, who made a pair of stunning outside passes in turn one, first to gain back a lap and then to re-take the race lead with just 24 minutes remaining. “We gave everything we had every lap,” said Luhr. “It was great to be fighting back. The car was fantastic lap after lap and we were able to push like really crazy to have even a slight chance.”
Porsche, Corvettes, Ferrari Make Michelin 1-2-3-4- in GT
Michelin technical partner GT teams took advantage of the latest Michelin “tall” front tires to take the first four positions in the fiercely competitive GT category. Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche returned to the podium for the first time this season with Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister taking the victory.
Corvette Racing extended its 2012 ALMS team, driver and manufacturer championship leads as Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished second while championship-leading teammates Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin claimed third. The Extreme Speed Ferrari of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek completed the Michelin sweep.
“Hats off once again to Michelin,” said Bergmeister, who celebrated his 100th ALMS start with his sixth win in seven years at Lime Rock Park. “The Michelin tires were perfect.” Co-driver Patrick Long agreed: “Our tire compound choice was probably a little different most of our competitors. We ran the same set of Michelin tires for the first half of the race and that was probably the deciding factor. We only changed tires once. It is a real compliment to Michelin and their technology that we could run that hard on this track and in this heat,” said Long.
Dempsey Racing Celebrates First Podium
While podiums are old hat to the others, Saturday marked a special day for ALMS newcomers Dempsey Racing and co-drivers Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster. Running just their second ALMS event in a new P2 class Lola prototype, the new team finished third in class and seventh overall.
CORE Scores Again in PC
The fourth stop of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season produced the fourth consecutive win for the CORE autosport team as Colin Braun and team owner/co-driver Jon Bennett backed up their recent Monterey win with their second victory of the season. Teammates Tom Kimber-Smith and Alex Popow finished second, while the Dempsey Racing PC entry driven by Duncan Ende and Henri Richard claimed the final podium spot.
“Lime Rock is the shortest track of the ALMS season and once again, it provided a lot of excitement for the fans and a great test for our new technologies,” said Silvia Mammone, manager, motorsports, Michelin North America. “We congratulate all of our teams and drivers on their great efforts and welcome Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and the Dempsey Racing to the first of what we hope will be many podiums.”