Last-Lap Pass Decides Long Beach ALMS Go

Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft Racing Acura. (ALMS photo).

Simon Pagenaud in the Highcroft Racing Acura. (ALMS photo).

LONG BEACH, Calif. — It came down to a last-lap shootout between Simon Pagenaud in the HDP ARX-01c and the Lola B09 60 Aston-Martin driven by Adrian Fernandez at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Saturday.

When Fernandez slipped wide in turn five, Pagenaud pounced, taking the lead and holding on for the victory, the sixth of his career. David Brabham, who started the race, had his adventures before earning the 20th ALMS victory of his career. Brabham had a coming together with the Aston-Martin while Harold Primat was at the wheel. Series officials assessed Brabham a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact.

At the green flag of the 100-minute race around the 1.968-mile Long Beach Grand Prix circuit, the Lola B06/10 AER of Jon Field wasted little time in getting past polesitter Primat, and eventually opened a nice lead from lap 14 to 37 until pitting under one of the three caution periods in the race. Pagenaud took over the lead, and held it from lap 38 to 61, when Fernandez was able to get past. Fernandez held off Pagenaud until Fernandez made his slight slip, allowing Pagenaud past.

Fernandez was followed by the Greg Pickett/Klaus Graf Porsche Spyder, with the Lola Mazda of Chris Dyson and guy Smith in fourth. In fifth was the top LMPC car, the Oreca FLM09 driven by Gunnar Jeannette and Elton Julian.

Eighth overall and first in GT was the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister, who had a race-long battle with the BMW of Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner. Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni were third in GT in their Ferrari 430 GT.

In GTC, Butch Leitzinger and Juan Gonzalez took a hard-fought victory over Bret Curtis and James Sofronas. Both teams wheeled Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

Pagenaud was elated after the race. “Long Beach is very special for me. I said over the weekend, this is where I started racing in America…this was a special win for me, this was our best win ever.”

“I taught him everything I knew,” Brabham said. “It’s nice to be on the other side and watch someone like Simon chase people down.” “(On the penalty) I was trying to get past the Aston, which was difficult because they were so fast down the straight. I caught up going into turn six and he missed the apex slightly, so I thought now was my chance so I put the power down. We touched, but I think I would have gotten away with it, but he spun so we got the penalty.”

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