Last lap thriller at Long Beach
Simon Pagenaud turned his disappointment in losing yesterday’s pole in qualifying into a dramatic last lap victory as he passed pole sitter Adrian Fernandez on the final lap to win the second stop of the 2010 American Le Mans Series season, here on the 1.968 mile circuit through the streets of Long Beach.
Pagenaud took the lead on a picture perfect pit stop by his Highcroft HPD prototype team with 40 minutes remaining in the 100 minute race only to see Fernandez seize the lead in his V12 powered Aston Martin prototype with just five minutes remaining.
“I could have resigned myself to finishing second, but I am a racer and I wanted to try everything I could to win,” said Pagenaud, who also took the victory here in 2009 co-driving with Gil de Ferran.
“I could tell that Adrian was fighting some issue and he had been driving differently the last three laps so I just tried to keep pressure on him and push as hard as I could and then the door opened,” said Pagenaud.
“We just pushed, pushed like qualifying every lap. The balance tended to shift during the stint and you had to take care of the tires. In a race like this, you want your tires to still be good at the end and the Michelin tires certainly were there when I needed them on the last lap,” said Pagenaud.
“The Highcroft crew did an incredible pit stop and Simon made a great fight all the way to the finish,” said co-driver David Brabham.
Completing a Michelin sweep of the LMP and overall race podium was the Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder of Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf. Michelin teams claimed seven of the top eight positions in the race. Finishing fifth overall and first in the LMP-C Challenge class were Gunnar Jeannette and Elton Julian of Green Earth Team Gunnar.