Quick final stop helps send Brabham/Pagenaud to victory

Patrón Highcroft Racing scored its third consecutive victory in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón on Sunday with a hard- fought victory in the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Simon Pagenaud drove the final 1:45 in the team’s HPD ARX-01c, and the Patrón Highcroft crew took advantage of a quick final pit stop to beat Drayson Racing’s Emanuele Pirro to the line by 19.116 seconds at Miller Motorsports Park.

Pagenaud, who qualified on pole position, and Brabham haven’t lost since the Long Beach round in April. Sunday’s victory was a hard-fought one considering a couple of disadvantages for the Patrón Highcroft car. The high altitude and long front-straight favored the bigger cars like the Drayson Lola-Judd and the turbocharged prototypes in the field.

No problem for PHR’s dynamic duo, especially with quick pit work. The team’s final stop was 18 seconds quicker than the final stop for Drayson. Pagenaud pitted 19 minutes later, and the Patrón Highcroft crew short- filled the fuel tank. As a result, the team gained 18 seconds worth of advantage.

Brabham started in the car from the point but got shuffled back to fifth place by the first turn due to the massive frontstretch that allowed the bigger engines to outpace the ARX-01c. But the pit work and the HPD’s advantage in the corners helped erase what had been a nearly 15-second lead for Pirro in the closed-top coupe.

He and Jonny Cocker led twice for 32 laps. Brabham and Pagenaud combined to lead three times for 36 laps.

The pairing also increased their championship lead in LMP to 11 points over Muscle Milk Team CytoSport’s Klaus Graf. He and Greg Pickett placed third, 90 seconds behind the winning car.

Although it just missed out on its first Series victory, Drayson Racing was the prototype winner in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge, a competition within the race that rewards overall performance and environmental efficiency.

The Level 5 Motorsports duo of Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker won for the third time in LMP Challenge. Bouchut crossed the finish line in the first of Level 5’s two ORECA FLM09s a lap ahead of Gunnar Jeannette in Green Earth Team Gunnar’s entry. Bouchut and Tucker lead Jeannette, who drove with Christian Zugel, by 11 points in the class championship.

As has been the case at each event this season, LMPC teams had to adjust to a track on which many had not raced and that the ORECA FLM09 had never turned a lap. With four races in the course of six weeks, the team that can adapt the quickest will have the biggest advantage. So far, that has been Level 5.

Max Hyatt and Alex Figge placed third in class for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. The duo, racing together for the first time, led in LMPC early and finished on the same lap as the GETG entry.

Risi Competizione won its second race of the season in GT with a victory for Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni. The first of Risi’s red Ferrari F430 GT was 21 seconds clear of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing’s second-place BMW M3 GTR of Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner.

It was the first victory for Bruni and Melo since a season-opening victory at Sebring in March when they teamed with Pierre Kaffer. Bruni qualified on the class pole position and swapped the lead in the early goings with the BMW before he and Melo settled into a steady and consistent rhythm. It was something that had been missing at Long Beach and Mazda Raceway earlier this year.

The victory moved Melo and Bruni into the class championship lead by two points over Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. They were fifth in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell placed third in class. Four manufacturers - Ferrari, BMW, Chevrolet and Porsche - made up the GT top-five.

Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Ferrari of Ed Brown and Guy Cosmo won the GT portion of the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge.

Jeroen Bleekemolen and Tim Pappas won their second straight GT Challenge race for Black Swan Racing. Bleekemolen finished nearly a full minute ahead of TRG’s Andy Lally and Henri Richard, who were hampered late by a penalty for a pitlane infraction. The Black Swan car took advantage of a separate pit strategy that resulted in the Porsche stopping one less time than the TRG entry, which made the difference.

Black Swan led the entire six-hour race at Mazda Raceway to earn its initial win. A repeat performance would have been unrealistic, Bleekemolen said but the biggest goal ended up being the end result.

Alex Job Racing’s Butch Leitzinger and Juan Gonzalez had finished second but were excluded in post-race inspections following a ride-height violation. TRG moved to second, and the WERKS II entry of Robert Rodriguez and Galen Bieker placed third.

Leitzinger and Gonzalez still retained their championship lead in the class.

The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is the fifth round of the 2010 season. The two-hour, 45-minute race is set for 2:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 24 from Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. SPEED will air the race live at 2 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche - a production of Radio Show Limited - as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242. Visit the Series’ schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at 

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