19 April 2010
Highcroft snatches last-gasp Long Beach ALMS win
Four different teams and three manufacturers led at least one lap in the massively tough GT class. Long ran down BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team's Tommy Milner with less than ten minutes to go. The BMW M3 GT did not change tyres and fell back to third at the finish.
Bergmeister started fourth in class but the duo was aided by quick pit work during the third and final caution period when a majority of the field made stops for fuel and driver changes.
“The crew did a fantastic job,” Bergmeister said, “We beat out every car except the two BMWs who did not take tyres. It showed how hard we pushed all day, and Patrick did a great job chasing down the BMWs and passing them on the track during his final stint. The team worked well together to get a win today.”
As at Sebring, the leading cars in class ran virtually nose-to-tail for the majority of the opening half.
“From the GT standpoint, we were pushing all the way throughout,” said Long, who also won the GT portion of the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge with Bergmeister.
“I think everyone out there in the second stint with fresh tyres was going really, really hard. It really came down to the battle of pit-stops with just about 45 minutes to go. We have some new crew members and they hit all their marks, so thanks to them tonight. They need to celebrate.”
In LMPC, the duo of Gunnar Jeannette and Elton Julian won in G-Oil's Green Earth Team Gunnar ORECA FLM09. It was the first victory for the drivers and the team with all finishing second in class at the season-opening Sebring race.
“It's a pleasure to work with a team like this, and it's great to be back racing again,” Julian said. “We were a bit unlucky at Sebring but, today, things worked out like they should. Here we are, and I think we deserve it.”
Jeannette crossed the finish line leading by a lap over Sebring class winners Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker in Level 5 Motorsports' entries. The top three cars – the G-Oil/GETG, Level 5 and Genoa Racing entries – all led during the race.
It was an impressive performance for the ORECA prototypes, which were racing on a street circuit for the first time. The Jeannette/Julian entry also gave G-Oil, an environmentally friendly motor oil made from animal fats, its first victory.
“At Sebring, we proved that G-Oil could run for twelve hours and get on pole,” Jeannette said, “Our guys had a wonderful, wonderful pit-stop to get us out in front of the other cars. It was up to me not to put a foot wrong and keep in front. My dad is from Long Beach, all our extended family is from here, so it's even better to have them all here. We were really happy to get the car to the finish without problems.”
JR Hildebrand and Tom Sutherland finished third in the class, on the same lap as the Tucker/Bouchut entry.
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