Graf Edges Brabham – Into Grass At Lime Rock
By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
Klaus Graf survived a furious charge from David Babham to bring the Muscle Milk Team CytoSport a victory in the American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park.
Graf, who co-drove the team’s Porsche RS Spyder with Greg Pickett, also had to survive a stop and go penalty from IMSA officials for pushing the Aussie’s HPD-ARX-01c off the track at 160 miles per hour on the front straight in a battle for the lead. The off-course excursion left Brabham with a blown right rear tire, although the team’s monitoring system showed the tire was leaking prior to the incident.
With 15 minutes remaining in the two hour, 45-minute event, Graf was balked in traffic, which set up the harrowing contact and Brabham’s excursion through the grass near the entrance to the pits. “I understand the penalty,” said Graf, who retained the lead because Brabham was forced to pit to replace the shredded tire. “I had to move over because of the GT cars. David tried to sneak through. I didn’t know David was there.”
It was a “bush league” move, said Patron Highcroft Racing team owner Duncan Dayton, whose car started on the pole. “The reason we got a puncture was because Klaus pushed us in the grass,” said Daytona. “Once you have a puncture, a stop-and-go is not going to make a difference.”
CytoSport, the LMP2 winners at the Sebring 12-hour, has been racing with a 25-kilo weight break for its RS Spyder since the post-Le Mans swing began. After a spate of three full-course cautions at the start, Graf replaced Pickett just after the minimum of 45 minutes behind the wheel. Highcroft’s starting driver Simon Pagenaud used the yellow periods to save fuel and the team decided to finish the race on one stop. But Graf, who shadowed Pagenaud by less than a second, pitted five minutes later for fuel and tires, then emerged in the lead from the pits due to taking less fuel on board.
Brabham was initially 14 seconds behind with 65 minutes remaining before closing the gap.
In GT, Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister of Flying Lizard Motorsports used pit strategy to beat the BMW M3 entries of Rahal Letterman Racing. The Lizard team pitted its 911 Porsche GT3 RSR under the third safety period and then had a shorter stop after the BMW’s had to make their second stop under green flag conditions. The No. 92 of Tom Milner Jr. and Bill Auberlen finished 1.495 seconds behind in second followed by the BMW of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand.
Driving an Oreca in the LMPC class for Team Green Earth Gunnar, Elton Julian and Gunnar Jeannette used a one-lap lead to win despite running out of fuel on the final lap. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry of Andy Lally and Henri Richard entered by TRG Motorsports won the GT Challenge.
– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at email@example.comOne Comment