Two Straight For Pickett Racing

The Pickett Racing squad celebrates victory Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. (ALMS photo)
The Pickett Racing squad celebrates victory Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. (ALMS photo)

MONTEREY, Calif. — Muscle Milk Pickett Racing cruised to its second straight victory in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón on Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

But another fabulous GT battle stole the show as Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner also took their second consecutive class win.

The last 90 minutes of the GT race undoubtedly was the highlight of the American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón. Seven cars in the class were within two seconds in the closing hour with the Corvette fighting BMW Team RLL’s two BMW M3s and Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs from Flying Lizard Motorsports and Team Falken Tire.

Gavin made what turned out to be the winning pass in his Corvette C6.R on Team Falken Tire’s Wolf Henzler with a little less than hour left at the final turn. But the drama carried on for the next 60 minutes. Bill Auberlen in the No. 55 BMW M3 GT looked set to challenge Gavin for the race win before Jan Magnussen in the other Corvette muscled his way past the BMW with less than 15 minutes to go.

Magnussen and Antonio Garcia wrapped up a Corvette 1-2. Auberlen and Jörg Müller placed third.

At the front of the field, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr dominated in their Honda Performance Development ARX-03a prototype. They duo trailed for less than a quarter of a lap after a strong start at the green flag by Dyson Racing. The Muscle Milk duo moved into the P1 championship lead with the victory.

Dyson’s trio of Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Johnny Mowlem placed third.

Level 5 Motorsports is three-for-three on the season in P2 following a victory for Franck Montagny, Scott Tucker and Luis Diaz. Their HPD ARX-03b overcame a couple of penalties in pit lane and a wild day for each of the three cars that led the class.

The race-leading No. 055 crashed out just after it lost the lead – ironically with Montagny driving that car as well – and Conquest Racing suffered a late-race mechanical issue that took it out of contention. Its Morgan-Nissan of Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson and Antonio Pizzonia placed second in class.

CORE autosport won for the third straight Prototype Challenge race as well, but this time the No. 05 ORECA FLM09 of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett were class victors this time around. Braun passed RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira on the next-to-last lap as the two cars split a GT Challenge car on the last part of the lap.

Junqueira, Tomy Drissi and Roberto Gonzalez ended second with the other CORE entry of Alex Popow and Tom Kimber-Smith third. The top three cars were within 1.725 seconds.

Jeroen Bleekemolen drove a storming final stint to give TRG it’s first GT Challenge victory of the season. The 2010 class co-champion beat GMG Racing’s James Sofronas by 12 seconds at the finish. Bleekemolen drove the TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Bret Curtis and Emilio Di Guida.

Sofronas, Alex Welch and Rene Villineuve were five seconds ahead of Competition Motorsports’ trio of Bob Faieta, Michael Avenatti and Cort Wagner.