Wow, it was hot in a whole bunch of ways at Lime Rock Park on Saturday. The ALMS Northeast Grand Prix was here for its seventh year, and under blazing skies and – yes, it was pretty darn humid – it was a cracker of a race
as the Greg Picket/Klaus Graf Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder LMP had a race-long dice with the polesitting Tequila Patron HPD ARX-01c driven by Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham.
With just a few laps to go, Brabham closed a 20-second gap down to less than 5. Moments later, Brabham got a run on Graf out of the Downhill and went to the inside almost immediately. But Graf moved over on the Patron car, shoving Brabham into the grass right along the pit wall! Graf got a stop-and-go penalty from the ALMS officials, but it turned out to be moot: a lap before the attempted pass, Brabham’s right-rear tire had suffered a puncture and it finally let go. With Brabham having to circulate slowly to get back to the pits, Graf had plenty of time to serve his penalty and still get back on track in front of the ARX-01c. It was a terrific finish to a pretty darn good two hour and 45-minute race.
Finishing a brilliant third (and first in class) was the LMP Challenge Green Earth Technologies/G-Oil Oreca of Elton Julian and Gunnar Jeannette, while fifth overall was the GT winner, the ShoreTel/Openwave/eSilicon Porsche 911 GT3 driven by Pat Long and Joerg Bergmeister. And winning the GT Challenge class – all Porsche GT3 Cup cars – was Henri Richard and Andy Lally.
Starting the day’s racing was the first of two F2000 races. It was a terrific 25-lap dice in which all the frontrunners were turning laps within three- 10ths of each other, with Cole Morgan beating Steven McAleer and Phil Lombardi at the checker.
Then the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites cars went racing. Gary Gibson won, with an almost 10-second margin, but the fight for second place came down to the wire, in a battle of the “Tonys” – Anthony Nicolosi nipped Antonio Downs by just a bit more than a 10th of a second. In the Lites 2 division, it was John Weisberg over Jim Garrett and Alan Wilzig.
Finishing the day of racing was the second F2000 race, this one a pretty good 30-lapper. Victor Carbone out-hustled Daniel Erickson and Phil Lombardi for the win.
Thanks to the multitude of fans that filled the hillsides today, who used the trees and the beverages to fend off the humidity. It was a really good, fun event, and all of us at the track are looking forward to next year’s ALMS race fest.
NEXT UP: Lime Rock Park goes from the cutting edge, green technology of the American Le Mans Series to “old school,” in the best possible sense: Historic Festival 28, over the Labor Day weekend, is September 3-6. This year, Connecticut’s famous food festival, “A Taste of the Litchfield Hills,” joins the vintage racing weekend and makes for great weekend, um, treat.