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Muscular Graf, Tip-Toeing Henzler Win In ALMS

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 6 2011

The Muscle Milk Aston Martin/Lola won at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. (File photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer

Steam Corners, Ohio – Rain played havoc in the final hour of the American Le Mans Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. When the race was stopped by a red flag with a little more than 15 minutes remaining, the Lola Aston Martin of Muscle Milk Racing, which was quickest in the dry with Lucas

Luhr on board and in the wet with Klaus Graf at the wheel, had clinched the over-all victory.

With problems in traffic in the dry and following a spin in the wet, the Dyson Racing Lola Mazda of pole winner Guy Smith and Chris Dyson finished a distant second.

The big story was in the GT category, where Wolf Henzler drove from the back of the field and sixth place to first in one lap aboard the Team Falken Tire Porsche GT3 911 RSR. Veteran Porsche factory driver Henzler and Bryan Sellers brought the Japanese tire maker’s team its first victory in the ALMS courtesy of the heavy rain falling at the final re-start with 23 minutes remaining in the two hour, 45-minute event.

Derrick Walker, the former CART team owner who took charge of the Falken squad over the winter, also enjoyed his first ALMS victory, engineered by longtime Indy car and sports car veteran John Ward.

During the decisive lap in the rain, two Corvettes, two Ferraris and one Porsche eventually were scuppered by the re-start. At the green, Tom Milner charged his Corvette inside of the leading Flying Lizard Porsche of Pat Long in Turn 1, but had to back off. Then Milner was the first to spin, looping at the exit of Turn 4. Next, leader Long, Corvette driver Oliver Gavin and Ferrari pilot Johannes van Overbeek all slid off at Turn 9, where Henzler tip-toed through as the other drivers tried to regain the asphalt from their off-track excursions. On his sponsor’s rain tires, Henzler had earlier passed the BMW of Bill Auberlen.

Long made one last desperate move to catch Henzler approaching the Keyhole on the second lap after green, but slid sideways into the gravel. The constant off-course excursions around the circuit forced a full-course caution, followed by the red flag due to the accumulation of water on the circuit.

On the same fateful re-start, the Ferrari of Jaime Melo had contact with Joey Hand’s BMW — both drivers at the back due to a late decision to switch to rain tires. The contact broke the Risi Ferrari’s suspension, but Hand was able to continue. On a day when the BMW’s knocked each other off the track as Dirk Mueller tried to dive inside Auberlen following a pit stop, the RLL team was lucky come home third and fourth behind the Falken Porsche and Gavin’s Corvette.

Kyle Marcelli and Tomi Drissi emerged as winners from a hectic LMPC race for Oreca FLM 09’s. Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende were the winners in the GTC class for Porsche 911 Cup cars.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 6 2011
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