The HPD sports prototype teams of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and Level 5 Motorsports continue to be the teams to beat in American Le Mans Series competition, once again claiming the LMP1 and LMP2 class wins Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; with the Muscle Milk driving team of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr posting its fifth consecutive overall victory of 2012.
Starting from the pole after heading the field in both practice and qualifying, Luhr claimed the lead at the green flag in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd that included thousands of associates from three nearby Honda of America Manufacturing facilities, and the Ohio-based Honda R&D Americas. Luhr extended his advantage throughout his stint, handing over the HPD ARX-03a to co-driver Graf with a little over 90 minutes remaining in the two hour, 45-minute contest.
The Dyson Racing Lola Mazda of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith took over the lead when the team elected to do a “fuel only” first pit stop, but Graf reclaimed an advantage he would not relinquish when the Dyson team made its second scheduled stop and mandatory driver change.
Just prior to his final stop, Graf had built a one-lap lead over his rivals, and even after his final fuel-only pit stop maintained his position at the front of the field to take the checkers and continue an unbeaten streak that started at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.
In LMP2, Level 5 Motorsports returned to Victory Lane after a one-race absence, with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut taking their HPD ARX-03b to a seven-second class win over the Conquest Endurance Racing Morgan Nissan of Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Making his debut with the team, Ricardo Gonzalez was impressive in an opening double stint in the #95 Level 5 HPD, taking the class lead near the one-hour mark when Heinemeier Hansson received a stop-and-go penalty for blocking.
The final round of pit stops again shuffled the LMP2 running order, as Plowman reclaimed the lead with less than an hour remaining. But Bouchut, driving the #055 HPD started by team owner/driver Tucker, soon chased down Plowman and passed for a lead he would not relinquish, the fourth LMP2 win of the season for Bouchut and Tucker.
With four races remaining in the 10-race 2012 season, HPD and its partner teams and drivers continue to lead their respective championships. In LMP1, Graf and Luhr hold a 16-point lead over the Dyson Racing duo of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith; while in LMP2, Bouchut and Tucker own a 12-point lead over Hansson and Plowman.
The series continues August 18 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Lucas Luhr (#6 Muscle Milk Racing HPD ARX-03a) Finished 1st overall, 1st in LMP1; fifth consecutive American Le Mans Series win for HPD and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in 2012: \"Winning five races in a row is very special. From the outside it may look easy, but the whole team – Klaus [Graf] and myself, everyone on the team, the guys from HPD and Michelin – we all have had to work very hard to achieve all these wins. It’s easy to say ‘you’re winning all the races, it’s easy’ but a race win is never easy and it is very special. I’m very proud of our entire team.”
Scott Tucker (#055 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b) 3rd overall, 1st in LMP2: \"We had a very good setup on both cars, no big compromises, and the cars stayed very consistent despite the changing track conditions. I was pleasantly surprised as to how quick the tires came in on the final stint. The entire race went very well for us.”
Allen Miller (Principal Engineer and Large Project Leader, Honda Performance Development) on Saturday’s race: “It was another nearly perfect weekend for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, as they continued to demonstrate their superiority this season. They led every practice session, qualified on the pole, led the most laps and scored their fifth consecutive overall win. Congratulations to Klaus and Lucas and the entire team for another outstanding performance. Level 5 Motorsports also had a strong run today. The team did a great job bringing in Ricardo Gonzalez as their new driver, and he proved to be up to the challenge, taking the #95 car to the front in a double stint. Scott Tucker also deserves a lot of credit in achieving his fifth win of the year, driving both cars for a total of more than two hours on a physically demanding circuit. It’s great to win ‘at home’ in front of so many Ohio-based Honda associates and their families.”