Jul 12, 2011

2011 American Le Mans (ALMS) Lime Rock Recap

2011 ALMS Lime Rock

The American Le Mans Series recent trip to Lime Rock this past weekend did not disappoint. The event lived up to expectations, by delivering what’s expected of the world’s top drivers, competing in four different classes, on a fun and small track, pure adrenaline. Never a dull moment, whether it be navigating the constant traffic from other classes, or battling fierce competitors within the same category, the action remained constant. Oh, and there was a fair bit of carnage as well. In a nutshell, that’s what makes the ALMS trip to Lime Rock so unique, and it’s really a perfect way to reinitiate the season after the short hiatus taken for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The action and misfortune started early, particularly when both Corvette’s (GT class) found their selves in the wrong place, at the wrong time. An incident just ahead of them, caught both car’s which led to a lengthy pit for repairs. The Corvette’s would finish, but the circumstances put them several laps down. “That’s part of racing at Lime Rock when you have cars running that close,” said team manager Gary Pratt. “Somebody spins, somebody checks up, and four or five cars get into each other. We had a lot of pieces and parts to change.”

With Corvette out, the battle in GT would come down to none other than the No. 56 BMW and the Flying Lizard Porsche. With the BMW in the lead and the Porsche within reasonable striking distance, it seemed as though we were going to be in store for another exciting finish. Unfortunately, bad luck would strike again as the Porsche would suffer a tire puncture that relegated them to a distant second place finish. On the positive side, it was their first podium of the season. Bergmeister commented, “It was a frustrating stint to make so much progress and then lose ground with the tire puncture. But I felt good with the car; it was hooked up and the more rubber that accumulated on the track, the better the car got. We had some bad luck here, but we need to keep our heads down and keep pushing. I’m happy to see us back on the podium. Thanks to the 45 crew who did another great job in giving us a great car for today.”

So it was BMW who claimed yet another checkered flag in a well-deserved win. The BMW ran strong the entire race and clearly had an edge over its competitors. The win at Lime Rock marks a third consecutive victory for Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the No. 56 BMW M3 GT.

“Team RLL, BMW, Dunlop, have done a very nice job,” Hand said. “The things we have now have made the car more comfortable and more in the zone. That’s how you win races. That’s a real key and real testament to BMW Team RLL and BMW Motorsport. Dunlop is really stepping up. They have a very consistent tire now.”

Indeed, this is shaping up to be BMW’s year. Aside from the progress Dunlop has made in partnership with BMW, it also hasn’t hurt that Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller have been absolutely phenomenal together.

Taking home the overall win was pole-sitter Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, of Dyson Racing. Although the duo won by more than 19 seconds, it was still a heated battle throughout the race with six different lead changes. “It was great fun,” Dyson said. “Lucas and I were going back and forth from the get-go. It was all about where you positioned yourself. It felt a bit like a video game. Our Mazda was fantastic from the start. I think the car really came into its own at the end of the race. We were lucky to catch the yellow when we did. They fought us hard all the way like they always do.”

American Le Mans action will continue on July 24 with the Grand Prix of Mosport. Remember, you can catch all of the archived footage of every ALMS race at espn3.com.

Complete Results

[Photos Property of American Le Mans]

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