The Muscle Milk RS Spyder and #45 Flying Lizard GT3 RSR both finished at the front of their respective classes in round 8 of the American Le Mans Series at Canada’s Mosport, keeping Klaus Graf, driving the RS Spyder, in contention for the LMP drivers championship and further cementing the #45’s lead in the GT class drivers championship.
The RS Spyder, driven by Klaus Graf and Romain Dumas (who is scheduled to race the new GT3 R Hybrid at the Petit Le Mans), was turning top times all weekend, whether it was in practice, warm up, test session, or the race. This is the team’s second overall win and third class win of the season.
The Patrick Long/Joerg Bergmeister #45 RSR took its fourth class victory this season, once again beating Corvettes, Ferraris, and BMWs, all cars that have proven to be faster (especially on high-speed tracks) throughout the season.
Corvettes, Ferraris, and BMWs all took turns leading the race, but by the time a full course caution, and later red flag, ended the race, the #45 was in the lead.
“This has been an unbelievable season — every win has felt so much different because each one is so hard to get. In addition, it was a great feeling to show that we had the speed as well as the strategy and execution to win — this really gives us a boost for Petit Le Mans. We are a single point ahead of BMW and only 11 points ahead of Ferrari in the manufacturers championship, so there is still lots of work to be done, and there will be some additional Porsches at Atlanta to help us. We don’t just want the drivers title — we want it all,” Long said.
A red flag ends the race
Mid-race drama, instead of clean racing, defined the outcome of the ALMS round 8 race after a harrowing high-speed collision involving the Drayson Racing Lola protoype and #48 Marquis Jet Porsche 911 GT3 Cup put the race on hold. A full course caution was placed after the crash, which happened shortly before the two hour mark.
The leading GTC class #48, driven by Luke Hines at the time of the crash, bounced off the retaining barrier after it was hit by the prototype, which was driven by Jonny Cocker. Race organizers deemed the damage to the barrier too great to fix up to ALMS standards within the time allotted by the TV coverage for the race, thus the red flag was raised. The race was ended after two hours and 19 minutes, almost 30 minutes short of the two hours and 45 minutes scheduled duration.
The positions at the start of the caution were retained for the finishing results. The #48 Marquis Jet GT3 Cup dropped from first in class to fourth after the crash. The #8 Drayson prototype was penalized 90 seconds for avoidable contact, which put the team fourth in class.
In a post-race interview by SPEED TV, Cocker said, his car was “95 percent” past the Porsche when the collision happened, and that he views it as a racing incident.
Hines, driver of the #48 Cup car told SPEED TV that, “I saw the #8 Drayson car coming, and I moved over to the left as far as I could and gave him plenty of room, yet he still hit me… In GTC, we are responsible for staying out of the way, but the faster cars have a responsibility as well, and I don’t feel that the other driver took that responsibility as seriously as he could have."
Update — 8/31/2010: Regular Excellence contributor Johannes van Overbeek, who was driving the #01 Extreme Speed Ferrari directly behind the crash offers some insight on the crash.
“I would say that multiclass racing is a cooperative endeavor,” Overbeek said, “Everyone needs to work together.”
Overbeek confirmed, “The Cup car was as far to the left as it could possibly go,” and, “(Cocker) just made a judgment error that happens to have huge consequences.”
“A second there I thought it would be game over,” he said.
When asked whether he thought Cocker had held his line, like he said in the post-race interview with SPEED TV, Overbeek said, “Even if he held his line, he would’ve run the Cup car off the road,” due to the slight left curve of the “straightaway.”
The track officials made the right decision to end the race since the barrier couldn’t be repaired in a reasonable amount of time, he said. “When you have a five or six foot guardrail that’s all but destroyed, if one car goes off, another car can go off.”
Mosport is the track with the fastest average speed per lap, Overbeek said. “It’s unbelievably fast.”
When the crash happened, Overbeek said he was traveling at 140 mph in his Ferrari, a similar speed to Hine’s Cup car. When the GT3 hit the wall, it just “exploded,” he said.
“(Mosport) is not up to the safety standards of the other tracks that the ALMS visits,” Overbeek said, “Hopefully this is a wake up call for (Mosport) and ALMS.”