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de Ferran breaks duck at the Beach

19 April 2009


de Ferran Motorsports led an Acura 1-2-3 in round three of the 2009 American Le Mans Series, as owner/driver Gil de Ferran finally got the win at Long Beach that had eluded him throughout his CART career.

Despite having qualified second to the sister Acura ARX-02a of Patron Highcroft Racing, de Ferran and team-mate Simon Pagenaud upset the symmetry of the Tequila Patron car winning the Tequila Patron-sponsored event after the stewards intervened to punish the David Brabham/Scott Sharp car for a pit-stop infringement.

The race ended under yellow flags, denying the Highcroft pair a chance to reply as the two LMP1 Acuras completed the event as the only cars on the lead lap. The result reverses the teams' fortunes from St Petersburg two weeks ago, where de Ferran qualified on pole, but saw Highcroft take Acura's first LMP1 victory.

de Ferran last won a race in 2003, claiming his final IndyCar outing at Texas Motor Speedway, but had come close to emulating Highcroft's success with the LMP2 Acura in its 2008 ALMS debut season. Having assumed the lead while its main - only - rival took its penalty, the Brazilian's team breakthrough was confirmed when Boris Said's LG Motorsports Corvette C6 erupted in flames just past the start-finish line with five minutes remaining.

Despite finishing second on the road, Brabham and Sharp retain their LMP1 points lead, while the only other senior class entries, the Intersport and Autocon Lolas, finished seventh and 15th overall.

Acura's podium sweep was confirmed as Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz earned their third straight LMP2 victory with the Lowe's Fernandez Racing ARX-01b finished five seconds ahead of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith in the first of Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupes.

Although the Fernandez car had qualified on the LMP2 pole, Smith led the class early on, only to miss out during the pit-stops. The second Dyson entry, crewed by Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti, finished third in class, with the best of the GT1 Corvettes filling the gap back to the Intersport Lola.

Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin will go down in the record books as the winners of the final GT1 race for Corvette Racing, as the team bows out of the ailing class, in the American Le Mans Series at least. The duo won at Long Beach for the second time in three years in their Corvette C6.R, but there was to be no dominant send-off for the team as its second car, in the hands of Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen, posted the race's first retirement after 42 laps.

Flying Lizard Motorsports' Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister claimed GT2 honours for the second straight race, despite a comeback charge from Risi Competizione pairing Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer, who started from the rear of the grid but came through to finish ninth overall, on the Lizards' tail.


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