Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach
by Efrain Olivares
You knew this one was going to be wild even before the race went green. For starters, most of the cars had had no practice in dry conditions. The ALMS' only practice session was held in a total rain storm, with many teams electing not to practice as the weather forecast for the two-hour race called for cool but sunny weather. Then, midway through qualifying – which started in dry conditions – the skies opened up again, causing the ALMS to abandon the session, with the field to be gridded based on owners points.
|The occasional picture of a Tequila Patron girl won't kill you.
So what you had was a field with several fast cars at the back of their respective classes, a tight, twisty, concrete-lined 1.9 mile Streets of Long Beach circuit, next to no practice for all of the drivers, and two hours to sort it all out.
|Into turn one, and the race is on between the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda and the Muscle Milk HPD.
The P1 class grew to three cars for Long Beach – with the no. 20 Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda, last year's championship winning car, joining the field with Michael Marsal and defending LMPC class champion Eric Lux at the wheel. Due to the rained-out qualifying, Guy Smith in the no. 16 Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda started first, with Lucas Luhr in the Muscle Milk HPD off pole and Marsal in third.
At the drop of the green, Smith and Luhr streaked away from the rest of the field, enjoying a straight-up battle for the lead before they encountered lapped traffic. Taking an opportunity in traffic approaching turn eight, Luhr made a daring move on Smith to take the lead when Smith was jammed up behind a pair of Flying Lizard GTE-class Porsches. When a full course caution fell, the two P1 leaders pitted at the same time, with Luhr handing the Muscle Milk HPD over to Klaus Graf, and Smith handing the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda over to Chris Dyson.
|Rounding the fountain turn, the Muscle Milk HPD heads for victory.