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Aston Martin Wins At Laguna Seca

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2011

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer

After a season of frustration in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, Aston Martin Racing’s factory team finally found its way to victory lane in LMP1 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the six-hour American Le Mans Series race with an AMR Lola Coupe. Drivers Stefan Mucke, Adrian Fernandez and Harold Primat will head to the Petit Le Mans in two weeks, round six of the ILMC series, with some new found momentum.

Dyson Racing’s Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, who won the pole, clinched the ALMS driver’s championship for LMP1, despite a late spin in the Corkscrew by co-driver Jay Cochran in the No. 16 Lola-Mazda entry shortly before the finish. Cochran had suffered a rear puncture and pitted shortly before the incident, which came on cold tires.

The Dyson team brought its N0. 20 entry into the pits in the closing minutes to enable Cochran to regain second place in order to clinch the championship prior to the season finale at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans. Aston Martin’s factory team did not earn ALMS points, which also aided the cause. When Cochran took over in what was scheduled to be the penultimate pit stop, he inherited a lead built by Smith. But Mucke chased Cochran down in the Aston Martin and took over the lead with 50 minutes remaining.

The Muscle Milk Aston Martin of Team CytoSport finished 48 laps behind the leaders after replacing an oil pump and finished a distant fifth in class. Klaus Graf, who co-drove with Lucas Luhr, thus ceded the championship to the Dyson drivers with one race remaining.

In GT, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller claimed the driver’s championship and the Flying Lizard Porsche team also broke through for the first time this season after a fender-banging battle with the rival Risi Competizione Ferrari. Toni Vilander banged fenders with the Lizards’ Patrick Long at the Corkscrew in the fourth hour to hold the lead. Jaime Melo nearly took the Lizards’ Jorg Bermeister into the wall on the front straight with two laps remaining – shortly after both had passed leader Mueller.

Melo’s move to block the Porsche was taken under review by the race director, but before any decision was taken the Risi Ferrari ran out of fuel on the final lap, enabling Bergmeister to take the lead and the RLL team’s BMW M3 of Hand and Mueller to claim second. A 90-second penalty for avoidable contact to the Risi car dropped it to sixth in the final results.

Running unclassified, the Porsche GT3 R Hybrid, driven by Richard Lietz and Romain Dumas, finished in front of the GT runners in preparation for showcasing its hybird power at the Petit Le Mans. Eric Lux, Elton Julian and Michael Guasch claimed the victory in the LMPC class for spec Oreca chassis. Spencer Pumpelly, Duncan Ende and Peter Ludwig won the GTC category for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entries.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2011
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