2010 Northeast Grand Prix Presented by Patron
The American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix was a real test of endurance, even though it was a sprint race. Patron Highcroft's David Brabham demonstrated deft skill on an ever changing wet track to take pole in a great duel with Muscle Milk Team CytoSport’s Klaus Graf in the Porsche RS Spyder. The already damp track made for an interesting GT qualifying session, that saw Patrick Long take pole in the 45 Flying Lizard Porsche. The rain intensified for the Prototype session and Brabham said that the conditions changed on each lap, which made for an exciting session to say the least..
Saturday dawned dry, but the Berkshire Hills gave up the previous day’s moisture, to produce oppressive humidity and temperatures in the mid 90s. The overall win went to the Porsche RS Spyder, with Klaus Graf pulling about two hours of the 2:45 minute race. The weight advantage provided to the Porsche after Miller proved to be a key to the competitive victory, which didn’t come without drama. Brabham made up over 20 seconds to challenge Graf for the lead and with just over 10 minutes to go, Graf moved over on Brabham on the downhill, forcing Brabham onto the grass in front of the pits. Graf was assessed a stop and go penalty for avoidable contact. But team telemetry indicated that the Highcroft HPD had picked up debris in the right rear tire and when Brabham hit the grass, whatever was in the tire became dislodged and Brabham had to pit for a new Michelin. Even with the Porsche stop and go, the time it took Brabs to limp around with the right rear down and the pit stop was the margin of victory for Greg Pickett’s squad.
In GT, the race went to Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long’s Flying Lizard Porsche, followed home by the Bill Auberlen’s BMW. Earlier, Johnny O’Connell played the bull in the china closet role on the narrow and short road course. He first had a run in with the 62 Risi Ferrari of Jamie Melo, which knocked that car out. Forty two minutes into the race, O’Connell had further contact with the GTC of Jerry Vento, which ended the day for the 3 Corvette. He took out his frustration over the track PA by saying that the track was probably 20 years past where cars of this speed should be racing here. True? Yes; but that’s like saying it’s hard to pass on the streets of Monaco. Lime Rock is the closest Sports Car facility to New York City and Boston; it will remain on the calendar. The drivers who win are patient, careful and fast; in that order.
Although the Prototype field keeps getting thinner, the opposite was true for GT. Risi Competizione Ferrari added a second car, driven by Pierre Kaffer and Mika Salo, which joined the 62 of Jamie Melo and Gimmi Bruni. This matched the two car ESM Patron Ferrari stable. The GT field will grow once again at the season ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 2nd. Porsche announced that it is entering the GT3R Hybrid in its first US appearance. Also, Robertson Racing is adding another Ford GT for Petit Le Mans. The 04, driven by David Murray, Anthony Lazzaro and Rob Bell will join the 40 car, in the hands of the Robertsons and Craig Stanton. More cars equals more competition.
LMPC was won by Elton Julian and Gunnar Jeanette, despite running out of fuel on the last lap, they had completed 162 laps before the 52 Corsa Care Care of Alex Figge. In GTC, Andy Lally passed Jeroen Bleekemolen, who was driving the Black Swan entry of Boston's Tim Pappas, with a half hour remaining to finish first in class.
Copyright 2001-2013 Greg Sarni, USA