Figuring out the best tire, driver and pit strategies is
the key to success when the ALMS hits enduro mode.
MAKING THE RIGHT CALLS
Half of the American Le Mans Series’ 10
races are four hours or longer, which offers
a greater opportunity for the teams to
implement different strategies for driver
and tire stints. Inevitably, the least amount
of time spent in the pits will pay dividends
on track – and at a race that can reasonably
be done with just two drivers in the lineup,
that’s the strategy Muscle Milk will utilize.
This year at Mazda Raceway Laguna
Seca, Greg Pickett went with just his two
main drivers, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr, in
his P1 car, while his PC entry used three:
pros Memo Gidley and Archie Hamilton,
plus gentleman driver Michael Guasch.
Muscle Milk’s P1 rivals Dyson Racing
went for three drivers, Johnny Mowlem
joining regulars Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
“Doing it with just two drivers gives us
maximum track time to dial in the car,”
Muscle Milk’s Graf explains. “Fitting a third
driver into just two hours of practice is
tough. We’ve done the race with two before,
and it’s certainly physically demanding,
but we feel it gives us the best chance.”
Muscle Milk’s P1 car pitted five times in the
six-hour race, but only two were full-service
stops for fuel, tires and a driver change. The
others were fuel only, keeping the HPD out of
the pits and on the track much longer than
the opposition. Only at Sebring ( 12 hours)
and Petit Le Mans ( 10 hours or 1,000 miles)
will the team opt to use three drivers.
stepped out of
after an enormous
testing accident at
Mid-Ohio in 2010.
Former Audi and
Porsche star Lucas
Luhr joined regular
Klaus Graf, starting
with Petit Le Mans
in ’ 10. The German
duo won four
ALMS races for
Muscle Milk in ’ 11.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Friday’s two official practice sessions
after a Thursday test see the team
dial in its setup and find more than a
second, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr
sharing the track time. A 1m16.834s
lap in the morning is eclipsed by a
1m15.697s in the afternoon, more
than 1.2sec clear of its P1 opposition,
Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda.
HOME POLE IN QUALIFYING
Graf qualifies, in search of the
Benicia, Calif., team’s first home pole –
Dyson’s Guy Smith has won the last
two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Qualifying, like practice, sees
Muscle Milk to the fore, Graf getting
down to a 1m13.573s best, nearly
two seconds up on Smith.
GRAF BUILDS A CUSHION
Graf starts for Muscle Milk. Chris
Dyson jumps to the lead off the
green, but Graf passes at Turn 3
and sets sail. At the end of lap 1
the gap is 2.812sec, building
steadily to 52.146sec after 20 laps.
After a double stint, Graf pits
around the 1h45m mark for
fuel, tires and a switch to Luhr.