Acura Automobiles: American Le Mans Series Monterey Race Report

Circuit: Mazda Raceway Laguna Raceway (2.24-mile road course) Monterey, CA
Weather: Clear, warm, afternoon high 86 degrees F

Top Fiver Overall Race Results:

Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr
Muscle Milk Racing
242 laps
Luis Diaz/Franck Montagny/Scott Tucker
Level 5 Motorsports
Jon Bennett/Colin Braun
CORE Autosport
Oreca FLM09 Chevrolet
Tomy Drissi/Roberto Gonzalez/Bruno Junqueira
RSR Racing
Oreca FLM09 Chevrolet
Tom Kimber-Smith/Alex Papow
CORE Autosport
Oreca FLM09 Chevrolet

David Hansson/A. Pizzonia/Martin Plowman
Conquest Racing
Morgan Nissan
Chris Dyson/Johnny Mowlem/Guy Smith
Dyson Racing
Lola B12/60 Mazda
Christophe Bouchut/Montagny/Tucker
Level 5 Motorsports
Jonny Cocker/Patrick Dempsey/Joe Foster
Dempsey Racing
Lola B12/87 Judd BMW
Duarte de Costa/Rusty Mitchell/A. Prendeville
Project Libra Racing
Radical SR10 Ford

HPD Sweeps Laguna Seca

The Muscle Milk Racing duo of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr dominated Saturday’s six-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in their HPD ARX-03a, leading from flag to flag to score its second consecutive overall and LMP1 victory of 2012.

Three laps behind the overall victors, the Level 5 Motorsports trio of Luis Diaz, Franck Montagny and Scott Tucker finished second overall and claimed the LMP2 class victory in its #95 ARX-03b, after a nearly race-long battle with the Conquest Racing Morgan Nissan of David Hansson, Antonio Pizzonia and Martin Plowman.

Following up on their victory last month at the team’s “home” race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Graf and Luhr sprinted away from Dyson Racing’s Lola Mazda on the opening lap and dominated the day in their HPD V8-powered ARX-03a, lapping the field within the first two hours of the six-hour event. The team carried on to run a flawless event, setting fastest race lap and winning its second consecutive Michelin Green X Challenge en route to the win.

In LMP2, featuring a pair of HPD twin-turbocharged V6-powered ARX-03bs fielded by Level 5 Motorsports, the race was much more closer. Driving the #055 Level 5 entry, early leader Franck Montagny collided with a slower GTC Porsche, sending the ARX-03b to the garage for repairs and handing the lead to the sister #95 car, with Scott Tucker driving.

But it was not clear sailing for the #95 ARX-03b, as the Morgan Nissan from Conquest Endurance, which added former Formula One driver Pizzonia for this event, presented a strong challenge for the first five hours. But shortly after taking the lead in an exchange of pit stops during the final hour, Hansson was forced to pit the Conquest machine with transmission issues, and Level 5 reclaimed the lead to continue its perfect season of three American Le Mans Series LMP2 class victories in three races this year.

After going behind the pit wall for repairs, Level 5’s #055 ARX-03b returned to finish third in LMP2, with Christophe Bouchut driving the final stint.

After its two-race swing through California, the American Le Mans Series has a one-month layoff as several leading teams – including Level 5 – take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The series resumes July 7 with the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.

At Le Mans, HPD will field its largest effort to date in the classic endurance contest with four teams: British-based JRM Racing and Strakka Racing in LMP1; and the American teams Starworks and Level 5 Motorsports in LMP2. The 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place June 16-17.

Lucas Luhr (#6 Muscle Milk Racing HPD ARX-03a) Finished 1st overall, 1st in LMP1; Michelin Green X Challenge winner: “It was a good race for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, especially now that we have two wins in California in front of our home crowd. It was very important for the whole team and for our motivation. It was very nice. There were so many friends and family of [team owner Greg] Picketts here to support us. We can show them back-to-back victories. Klaus [Graf] did a very good job at the beginning, and we built a good lead early. We had to keep our focus, stay out of trouble and bring it home – and that’s what we did.”

Luis Diaz (#95 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b) Finished 2nd overall, 1st in LMP2: “Our goal is to develop race by race. The aero of this car is so great, you can carry so much speed into the corners. I think the mechanical side of the car is great. It’s just awesome. The P1 cars are a bit quicker on the straights, but our team is very prepared to fight for overall [race] wins.”

Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on Saturday’s 6-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey: “Excellent efforts from both of our Le Mans prototype teams today were well rewarded with class victories for both Muscle Milk Racing and Level 5 Motorsports, and the first 1-2 finish overall this season for Honda Performance Development. Congratulations to both of our partner teams, which swept both California events to continue their winning streaks, and all of our HPD associates for a job well done. Now, our focus shifts back to Europe, where preparations continue for our third appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and our largest effort to date for this great race.”



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