As part of the revival of the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle last year, the Detroit Sports Car Challenge was added as the highlight of Saturday's activities. The sports car race is back this year as the ninth round of the American Le Mans Series. For those who have never checked out an ALMS race, it's one of the best and most exciting forms of motorsport anywhere. Highcroft Racing's Acura ARX-01B captured the pole and led much of the first half of the race ahead of the De Ferran Racing Acura. If you TiVoed the race and don't want to ruin the surprise, you can just check out the gallery and come back later to see the full results after the jump. Otherwise, you know what to do.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
The Highcroft and De Ferran teams kicked off the Detroit ALMS weekend with the big announcement Friday that they would lead Acura's move into the LMP1 category next year, then followed that up by grabbing the first two spots on the grid for Saturday's race. The pair led the first half of the race before eventually giving way to the Andretti Green Racing Acura. The AGR car ended up leading the Highcroft machine across the finish line to take Acura's second overall win and the first for the Andretti Green. Interestingly, during Friday's press conference no mention was made of AGR. The Fernandez team that runs the fourth Acura will stay with the LMP2 program in 2009. I spoke to a representative from AGR before the race on Saturday and he told me the team was still negotiating with Acura about its '09 plans. At this point, they still don't know if they're staying with Acura, or even staying in ALMS, for that matter. After this performance, they've definitely shown they have what it takes.
Along the way, the Corvettes again led the way home in GT1 ahead of their lone challenger, an Aston Martin DBR9. The only other Aston in the race was a GT2 Vantage driven by Paul Drayson that got stuffed on the first lap. Lucas Luhr swung the back of the No. 2 Audi R10 into a tire barrier, and then complained to his crew about "no f***ing grip!" The other Audi made its way up to third overall and first in LMP1. Unfortunately, it was disqualified during post race scrutineering for being 2.5 kg underweight.
ANDRETTI GREEN AND ACURA ON TOP IN DETROIT
Andretti Green Racing fulfilled the promise and potential it showed all season with its first overall victory in the American Le Mans Series on Saturday. James Rossiter and Franck Montagny won the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Boschas Acura swept the overall podium for the first time.
Rossiter and Montagny took the lead for good when it won the race out of pitlane with 69 minutes left. Montagny never gave up the lead and beat Patrón Highcroft Racing's David Brabham across the line by 3.985 seconds.
Andretti Green won in the Series for the first time since taking an LMP2 victory at Sebring in 2007. That race marked Acura's debut in the Series. Now late in its second season, Acura passed Porsche in the race for the manufacturer championship by four points.
Emanuele Pirro won in Detroit for the second time, and Marcel Fässler scored his first Series victory for Audi Sport North America. The Audi R10 TDI finished third overall and 20.114 seconds behind the AGR entry. Pirro and Fässler also ended a seven-race class win streak for Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner, who crashed out of the race on Lap 21.
The crash prevented the Luhr/Werner pairing from clinching the P1 championship.
Pirro and Fässler finished ahead of Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud as de Ferran Motorsports' completed the P2 podium sweep for Acura. The top six cars finished on the lead lap.
Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won in GT1 for the first time since late March with more than a minute in hand to beat teammates Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen. Three-time and defending class champions, Gavin and Beretta took the lead early on when the No. 4 crew got the car out of pitlane ahead of the sister car during the first round of stops at the 40-minute mark.
The Bell Motorsports' Aston Martin DBR9 of Terry Borcheller and Chapman Ducote finished third in class for the third straight race.
Flying Lizard Motorsports scored its third 1-2 finish as GT2 championship leaders Jörg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler bolstered their class lead with their fourth win of the season. The pair of Porsche factory drivers stayed clean while Ferraris from Tafel Racing and Risi Competizione had their problems, and Johannes van Overbeek was hit while leading by Penske's Bernhard.
Henzler, the class polesitter, crossed the line 6.570 seconds ahead of van Overbeek who teamed with Patrick Pilet. Mika Salo and Jaime Melo, last week's winners at Mosport, finished third in Risi's lead Ferrari F430 GT.
The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Detroit
2. (1) Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL; David Brabham, Australia; Acura ARX-01B (2, P2), 104.
3. Simon Pagenaud, France; Gil de Ferran, Brazil; Acura ARX-01B (3, P2), 104.
4. (6) Romain Dumas, France; Timo Bernhard, Germany; Porsche RS Spyder (4, P2), 104.
5. (7) Patrick Long, Oak Park, CA; Ryan Briscoe, Australia; Porsche RS Spyder (5, P2), 104.
6. (3) Guy Smith, England; Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Porsche RS Spyder (6, P2), 103.
7. (11) Ben Devlin, England; Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, FL; Lola B07 46 Mazda (7, P2), 103.
8. (10) Marino Franchitti, Scotland; Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Porsche RS Spyder (8, P2), 102.
9. (17) Oliver Gavin, England; Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Corvette C6.R (1, GT1), 100.
10. (13) Jan Magnussen, Denmark; Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Corvette C6.R (2, GT1), 100.
11. (14) Wolf Henzler, Germany; Jörg Bergmeister, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (1, GT2), 98.
12. (18) Patrick Pilet, France; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2, GT2), 98.
13. (15) Jaime Melo, Brazil; Mika Salo, Finland; Ferrari F430 GT (3, GT2), 98.
14. (22) Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, CA; Martin Ragginger, Austria; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (4, GT2), 98.
15. (19) Robert Bell, UK; Harrison Brix, San Jose, CA; Ferrari F430 GT (5, GT2), 98.
16. (26) Jim Tafel, Alpharetta, GA; Alex Figge, Hollywood, CA; Ferrari F430 GT (6, GT2), 95.
17. (28) Joel Feinberg, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Chris Hall, Daytona, FL; Dodge Viper Comp Coupe (7, GT2), 94.
18. (20) Terry Borcheller, Vero Beach, FL; Chapman Ducote, Miami, FL; Aston Martin DBR9 (3, GT1), 93.
19. (16) Dominik Farnbacher, Germany; Dirk Mueller, Germany; Ferrari F430 GT (8, GT2), 92.
20. (27) David Murry, Cumming, GA; Andrea Robertson, Ray, MI; David Robertson, Ray, MI; Doran Ford GT-R (9, GT2), 89.
21. (21) Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Tom Sutherland, Los Gatos, CA; Panoz Esperante Ford (10, GT2), 87, Accident.
22. (12) Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Richard Berry, Evergreen, CO; Lola B06/10 AER (1, P1), 83.
23. (4) Luis Diaz, Mexico; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico; Acura ARX-01B (9, P2), 83.
24. (25) Tim Pappas, Boston, MA; Anthony Lazzaro, Acworth, GA; Doran Ford GT-R (11, GT2), 49, Accident.
25. (24) Marc Basseng, Germany; Nicky Pastorelli, Netherlands; Francisco Pastorelli, Netherlands; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (12, GT2), 38, Mechanical.
26. (8) Lucas Luhr, Germany; Marco Werner, Germany; Audi AG R10/TDI (2, P1), 21, Accident.
27. (23) Paul Drayson, London, UK; Jonny Cocker, UK; Aston Martin Vantage (13, GT2), 1, Accident.
28. (9) Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Marcel Fässler, Switzerland; Audi AG R10/TDI (3, P1), 104.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.