ALMS Season At 1/3 Point With A Mazda Surge, BMW Dominance, & Late Race Assessments

The Muscle Milk Aston Martin (right) pulls off a pass on the pole position Dyson Racing Mazda early in the race at Lime Rock Park, race three of nine in the ALMS 2011 championship season. Image Credit: American Le Mans Series

ALMS Season At 1/3 Point With A Mazda Surge, BMW Dominance, & Late Race Assessments

Chris Dyson and Guy Smith drove their Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda MZR-R to their first win of the 2011 season.

The hunt for the LMP1 championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón lost none of its intensity over the Series` two-month break. Dyson Racing maintained its title lead with a victory in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The duo of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith exchanged the lead six times with Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing on Saturday and took the overall victory. BMW Team RLL also picked up where it left off, scoring its third consecutive GT victory.

Dyson Racing won by 19.969 seconds over the Muscle Milk Aston Martin squad. It was the first ALMS win for Chris Dyson at his home track. Dyson`s second Lola-Mazda, driven by Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane, finished third.

Starting from the pole, Dyson Racing`s Chris Dyson had his work cut out for him in the No. 16 Lola-Mazda, holding off Lucas Luhr`s No. 6 Aston Martin-powered Lola in the opening laps through a swarm of traffic on the 1.474-mile road course. Luhr dispatched Dyson on lap 16, but was then forced to pit early to replace a flat tire.

“It was great fun,” Dyson said. “Lucas and I were going back and forth from the get-go. It was all about where you positioned yourself. It felt a bit like a video game. Our Mazda was fantastic from the start. I think the car really came into its own at the end of the race. We were lucky to catch the yellow when we did. They fought us hard all the way like they always do.”

After three races of the nine-round ALMS season, Dyson and Smith lead the drivers’ championship, Dyson leads the team, and Mazda leads the manufacturers’ championships. The driver points lay out as follows – #1) Dyson Racing Mazda’s Chris Dyson and Guy Smith – 66 points each, #2) Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing’s Klaus Graf and – Lucas Luhr – 36 points each, #3) Dyson Racing Mazda’s Jay Cochran – 30 points.

Team RLL’s Joey Hand in the #56 BMW as it approaches a clutch of competitors, as fans watch from a hill at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut.  Image Credit: American Le Mans Series

BMW Team RLL extended its GT Class winning streak to three as the No. 56 BMW M3 GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller topped Flying Lizard Motorsports` Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

“Team RLL, BMW, Dunlop, have done a very nice job,” Hand said. “The things we have now have made the car more comfortable and more in the zone. That`s how you win races. That`s a real key and real testament to BMW Team RLL and BMW Motorsport. Dunlop is really stepping up. They have a very consistent tire now.”

“Winning is always very sweet and very important and it`s good to collect the points,” Mueller, Hand’s teammate said. “Like Joey said, we`re in year three. Everything is now coming together like it is supposed to. I think we turned three screws on the car before we started the race. The break [between Long Beach and Lime Rock] was massive but we tested in between. At the level we are racing, it has changed so dramatically. Now we have a car that you need to push from the first second. Winning three times in a row looks so easy now.”

A smart opening-lap pass by Long on the No. 55 BMW M3 driven by Dirk Werner enabled the Porsche driver to move into second and chase after Hand. Behind them, havoc in West Bend damaged both of the Corvettes, Werner`s BMW and the No. 02 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia.

Long and Bergmeister kept their Porsche within striking distance of the leading BMW throughout the race. Though constant traffic provided some hair-raising moments, a true opportunity for a lead change never materialized.

Fresh from a podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Robertson Racing scored its first ALMS podium with a third-place finish Saturday for David Murry and Anthony Lazzaro. Starting seventh in class, the No. 04 Doran Ford GT first appeared in the top three following the chaos in West Bend. The Ford was eventually caught by Team Falken Tire`s No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Lazzaro was shown in fourth at the line, but a 90-second avoidable contact penalty on Team Falken Tire elevated Murry and Lazzaro to the final podium position in GT.

At the end-of-race interview, Patrick Long felt better about their Flying Lizard effort here in Lime Rock with a complete race under his and Joerg’s belt. It helped to put behind his (Long’s) troubles at Long Beach where he had a DNF after showing promise early just to crash out.

The biggest disappointment suffered in the GT Class had to be felt in the Corvette camp with Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen only able to post one point in the overall driver’s championship and teammates Olivier Beretta and Tommy Milner post only two points.

With one third of the season having been played out, #1) BMW Team RLL drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller with three successive wins have 70 points each, #2) Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen – 37 points each, #3) Flying Lizard Motorsports Factory Porsche Team’s Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long – 34 points each.

The other two classes, LMPC and GTC, also have great competition but for the purposes of this inagural post, we will focus on the overall leader competition and the class that gets the most attention because of the strong factory interest and participation between BMW, Porsche, and Corvette … it doesn’t get any better when racing full-bodied, beefed up sports cars.

Winner’s All – The four classes of winners take to the podium to hoist high their bottles of, series sponsor, Tequila Patron for the gathered crowd. Image Credit: American Le Mans Series
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix
Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.
Saturday`s Results:

Finish Pos. – (Qual.) – Driver & Location – Racecar Type – (Finish in Class) – LAPS
[Winners In Class Highlighted In BOLD]

1. (1) Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire; Lola B09 86/Mazda (1, LMP1), 187.

2. (3) Lucas Luhr, Monte Carlo; Klaus Graf, Dornham; AMR/ Lola Coupe B08 62 (2, LMP1), 187.

3. (2) Humaid Al Masaood, Abu Dhabi; Steven Kane, Newtownards; Lola B09/86 Mazda (3, LMP1), 182.

4. (4) Eric Lux, Jacksonville, FL; Elton Julian, Santa Monica, CA; Oreca FLM09 (1, LMPC), 181.

5. (5) Ricardo Gonzalez, Monterrey; Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, UT; Oreca FLM09 (2, LMPC), 181.

6. (6) Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, CA; Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, ON; Oreca FLM09 (3, LMPC), 180.

7. (10) Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA; Dirk Mueller, Monte Carlo; BMW M3 GT (1, GT), 176.

8. (12) Patrick Long, Bellaire, FL; Joerg Bergmeister, Langenfield; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2, GT), 176.

9. (9) Jarrett Boon, Phoenix, AZ; Anthony Nicolosi, Palm Beach, FL; Oreca FLM09 (4, LMPC), 175.

10. (7) Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands, NJ; Jon Bennett, Fort Mill, SC; Oreca FLM09 (5, LMPC), 175.

11. (18) Bryan Sellers, Braselton, GA; Wolf Henzler, Nuertingen; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (3, GT), 174.

12. (16) David Murry, Atlanta, GA; Anthony Lazzaro, Atlanta, GA; Doran Ford GT (4, GT), 174.

13. (19) Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Ferrari F458 Italia (5, GT), 174.

14. (21) Bryce Miller, Summit, NJ; Sascha Maassen, Lontzen; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (6, GT), 172.

15. (15) Seth Neiman, San Francisco, CA; Marco Holzer; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (7, GT), 165.

16. (25) Mike Piera, Newtown, Conn.; Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, FL; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (1, GTC), 164.

17. (26) Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, CA; Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (2, GTC), 164.

18. (27) Bill Sweedler, Westport, CT; Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, PA; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (3, GTC), 164.

19. (23) Tim Pappas, Boston, MA; Damien Faulkner, County Donegal; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (4, GTC), 164.

20. (11) Dirk Werner, Kissenbrück; Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA; BMW M3 GT (8, GT), 163.

21. (14) Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo; Tommy Milner, Leesburg, VA; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (9, GT), 161.

22. (29) James Sofronas, Newport Beach, CA; Alex Welch, Englewood, Colo.; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (5, GTC), 160.

23. (13) Jan Magnussen, Roskilde; Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (10, GT), 156.

24. (17) Ed Brown, Las Vegas, NV; Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, FL; Ferrari F458 Italia (11, GT), 153.

25. (24) Chris Thompson, Englewood, Colo.; Nick Ham, Evergreen, CO; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (6, GTC), 149.

26. (20) Cristiano da Matta, Belo, Horizonte; Bruno Junqueira, Brazil; Jaguar XKR (12, GT), 149.

27. (8) James Kovacic, Forrester Beach; Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Oreca FLM09 (6, LMPC), 126, Mechanical.

28. (28) Andrea Robertson, Ray, MI; David Robertson, Ray, MI; Doran Ford GT/Elan (13, GT), 116, Mechanical.

29. (31) Toni Vilander, Kankaanpaa; Jaime Melo, Milan; Ferrari F458 Italia (14, GT), 79, Mechanical.

30. (22) Peter Lesaffre, Rye, NH; Jaap van Lagen, Ede; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (7, GTC), 74.

31. (30) PJ Jones, Torrance, CA; Rocky Moran, Ladera Ranch, CA; Jaguar XKR (15, GT), 49.

Thanks to the American Le Mans Series for article and resource assistance in the crafting of this posting.

… notes from The EDJE

[Article first published as ALMS Season At 1/3 Point With A Mazda Surge, BMW Dominance, & Late Race Assessments on Technorati]

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