Monday, July 22, 2013

Muscle Milk Team Wins Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, Canadians Fared Well

Photo Credit: American Le Mans Series

Canada's oldest surviving motorsport complex, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park continued its tradition of hosting some of the greatest sports cars on the globe. Sunday's Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is another occasion over the 2.46-mile road course's 50-plus year history where classes of premium cars and drivers found themselves challenging the track's tricky turns and elevations. Though the only Canadian race on the American Le Mans Series has recently existed as a spot where car counts were lower than major races at Sebring or Daytona, the 2013 edition of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix still attracted the likes of the SRT Viper GTS-R, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R ZR1 and a DeltaWing chassis P1 car.

The #6 Muscle Milk sponsored HPD ARX-03a driven by Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf went unchallenged through the event. With only three P1 entrants part of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, there was never a prospect of an overall battle at any point during the weekend. The 2-hour, 45-minute sports car race simply confirmed the suspicions. The second highest entry in P1 finished 7 fewer laps around the 2.46-mile track. The Mazda-powered #16 Dyson Racing vehicle piloted by Canadian Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry took the second in class honours. The Luhr/Graf combination in the #6 prototype has won their fourth-straight event in the 2013 ALMS championship.

Finishing four laps behind the Muscle Milk race car, the P2 class battle was more wide-open affair. Drivers Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti prevailed in P2 behind the wheel of the #551 car for Level 5 Motorsports. The #551 car would also serve as the second finisher overall in the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Second in P2 was the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b race car shared by Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo. The #552 car was third in the P2 class. Part of the driving team for the second Level 5 Motorsport machine was IndyCar Detroit race winner Mike Conway. Conway was filling in for Ryan Briscoe who sustained wrist injury last Saturday at the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto event.

The PC category finish was the tightest in the prototype class at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sports car race. With the class' top-three on the same lap at the end, it was the #05 Core Autosport ride driven by Jonathan Bennett and Colin Braun who snatched victory. While the Core Autosport car finished 15 seconds ahead of the second place PC entry, a battle between the #81 and #8 cars was less than two seconds apart. The  Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande prevailed for the runner-up spot over the entry driven by Canadians Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming. Missing out on victory in class with #8 BAR1 Motorsports car, Marcelli's third place finish is his first podium at the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix after three DNFs in previous years. In the lead of the PC category during the early stages of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, the #9 car piloted by Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende would be taken out of contention for their second 2013 ALMS class win by a starting issue following a mid-race pit stop. Eventually restarting their #9 Oreca FLM09 for RSR Racing, Junqeira and Ende settled with a fifth place class result.

Photo Credit: Richard Prince for Corvette Racing

As usual with the 2013 American Le Mans Series season, the GT classes provided the most amusement. In the main GT class during Saturday's qualifying, the SRT Viper GTS-R recorded its second pole of the 2013 championship season. Jonathan Bomarito recorded the top time in the #93 car co-driven with Canadian Kuno Wittmer. In the race, the final laps was a scrap between the SRT Viper GTS-R cars and the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. Crossing the line a mere 0.27 seconds ahead of the #91 Viper GTS-R of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens, the #4 Corvette Racing machine was the winner. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner captured their first win together since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring earlier this season. A finish that mirrored the intensity of a 2000 battle on the Mosport track between the than-young Corvette Racing and the experienced Vipers in the hands of Team Oreca, the result in 2013 was in favour of Corvette.

Nearly as exciting as the GT class was the GTC category result. Winning by 2.3 seconds, the #22 Alex Job Racing car driven by Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen took their second victory of 2013. Second in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup dominated GTC class was #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports car of Nelson Canache, Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly.
Only two cars were classified as not running at the end of the 2013 Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. The #7 PC class machine for BAR1 Motorsports ended the race with a hard hit in turn 1 after competing 85 laps. Prior to this, the promising Elan-powered DeltaWing P1 car was retired after only 16 laps.

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