Birthday Boys Celebrate in Canada
The HPD-powered Muscle Milk Pickett Racing duo of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr continued its winning ways Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, taking its fourth consecutive American Le Mans Series overall and LMP1 victory of 2012, on a weekend when both drivers also celebrated birthdays.
After starting from the pole, Luhr took a lead the team would not relinquish in his HPD ARX-03a when outside front-row starter Chris Dyson was penalized for jumping the green flag. Once in front, Luhr and Graf were never headed, leading by nearly two laps until a penalty for having too many men over the wall on a pit stop, followed by a late-race caution period, reduced their advantage to just over 10 seconds at the finish.
The win was the third for the team at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, formerly known as Mosport International Raceway, and the fourth consecutive this season for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, continuing a winning streak that began in April at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. It came on a weekend during which Graf celebrated his 43rd birthday by claiming the pole on Saturday, while Luhr overcame pain from an ankle injury, sustained in a fall on Saturday, to mark his 33rd birthday in Victory Circle on Sunday.
In LMP2, the long winning streak of Level 5 Motorsports came to an end, after a late-race penalty dropped the HPD ARX-03b of Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker to second behind the Conquest Racing machine of David Heinemeier Hansson and Martin Plowman.Prior to the penalty, called when Bouchut was judged to have crossed the pit exit line as he challenged for the lead during the final five minutes, the LMP2 battle was a highlight of the three-and-a-half hour contest. The two rivals exchanged the class lead several times and, when the green flag waved for the final time with 12 minutes to go after a full-course caution period, Plowman held a narrow lead for Conquest over Bouchut in the Level 5 HPD.
The turning point came when Bouchut crossed over the yellow line separating the pit lane exit from the racing surface, resulting in a stop-and-go penalty that determined the outcome.
Midway through 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 12-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 4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the midwestern “home” for HPD’s racing efforts, with thousands of associates from three nearby Honda of America Manufacturing facilities and Ohio-based Honda R&D Americas expected to attend.
Klaus Graf (#6 Muscle Milk Racing HPD ARX-03a) Finished 1st overall, 1st in LMP1; fourth consecutive win for HPD and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in 2012: \"You don’t want to lose concentration and focus. It’s imperative that you stay ‘on it’, do the job you have to do, get in the groove and turn competitive lap times. Sometimes a big lead is harder to manage than if you have to push all the way. Winning here again, for the third time in a row and our fourth consecutive race win this year, means a lot for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and our partners HPD and Michelin. We couldn’t ask for more this weekend, Canada has always been good to us.”
Lucas Luhr (#6 Muscle Milk Racing HPD ARX-03a) 1st overall, 1st in LMP1: \"I think we were fully in control of the race. We made a good strategy call in the beginning to save some fuel. That allowed us to do the race on just two stops. The others had to stop three times, so it was a big advantage for us. It’s great to win our fourth race in a row. The guys keep on doing an awesome job and it’s great to be able to reward them with a win.”
Steve Eriksen (Vice President, Honda Performance Development) on Sunday’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park: “It was another great result for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, as they continued to demonstrate superiority at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Congratulations to Klaus and Lucas and the entire team for another outstanding performance. LMP2 was an exciting contest, and while Scott and Christophe came up just short of yet another victory, they continue to set the standard for performance in the category. It’s great to see both the teams and HPD solidify their leads in the championships, and we look forward to giving our Ohio-based associates the opportunity to cheer for their teams in two weeks at Mid-Ohio.”