American Le Mans Series LMP1 champions Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf took another win in their Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD at Virginia International Raceway, but only after a huge battle with Dyson Racing.
For the first time since Rebellion curtailed its ALMS program and Dyson started shuffling its driver lineup, Pickett had to work hard to secure victory. Although Dyson’s pole advantage was swiftly overturned, an early spin for Graf while trying to pass a GTC car put Johnny Mowlem into the lead.
Some spectacular racing through the traffic followed, and while Pickett got back ahead in the pits, Mowlem’s teammate Guy Smith was able to draft back past on track. The battle eventually fizzled out through pit tactics amid a huge accident for GTC driver Eduardo Cisneros.
A clash between his NGT Porsche and Marco Holzer in the GT class Miller Porsche sent both cars into huge impacts with the barrier (click here for the amazing video). Cisneros’ car went into a ferocious series of rolls, ending up atop the tire barrier and narrowly missing a marshalls post. Remarkably, both drivers, all the marshals and TV crew at the corner were unhurt.
That yellow negated the advantage Dyson had gained when Pickett pitted under the previous caution, and meant that Smith not only lost the lead when he stopped, but fell right back into traffic. By the time the Briton had cleared all the lower-class cars, Luhr was half a minute ahead and heading for victory.
A tight LMP2 battle between the two Level 5 HPDs and Extreme Speed’s lead car ended with Ryan Briscoe breaking away in the Level 5 entry he shared with team boss Scott Tucker. Risi finally got the first GT win of its ALMS return, as Matteo Malucelli thrust his and Olivier Beretta’s Ferrari past the CORE Autosport Porsche late on.
A gaggle of Corvettes and RLL BMWs chased CORE driver Patrick Long home, despite a 60-second penalty for the Tommy Milner/Oliver Gavin Corvette for hitting a GTC car and the Maxime Martin/Bill Auberlen BMW suffering a long pit delay with door problems.
Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming took a comfortable LMPC win for BAR1, while TRG’s Damien Faulkner and Ben Keating triumphed in GTC.
The race airs Sunday on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET.