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Race Results: Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio

14 December 2006
Road Atlanta

Mid-Ohio was doubly good to Penske Motorsports on Saturday as Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard led a 1-2 overall team finish at the Acura Sports Car Challenge as Penske and its Porsche RS Spyder took its fifth straight overall victory in the American Le Mans Series.

Dumas finished 2.36 seconds ahead of Briscoe after both Penske crews elected a short-fill of fuel on their final pit stop with 55 minutes remaining. Their estimation proved to be right on as the winning car finished 15 seconds ahead of the lead Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner.

The final two stints for the Penske cars focused equally on tire and fuel consumption. That put both cars comfortably in their fuel window late in the race, enough so they didn't have to put an entire load on their last stop.

"It makes a big difference," Bernhard said of going easy on the Michelins. "You also save fuel because you have to fill up less, which saves pit stop time. It was clear we couldn't go with one stop during the race. The time you gain by not filling up so much was key. It was more important to save the tires because we wanted to push at the end of the stint if we needed to."

Dumas and Bernhard won at Mid-Ohio for the second straight year and began from the pole Saturday. Emanuele Pirro in the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI took the lead 10 minutes in and led on different occasions. Werner led up until lap 88 before losing it to Adrian Fernandez's Acura-powered Lola on the last stop.

The Audis made their gains on Mid-Ohio's long straights while the Porsches took advantage of the medium- and slow-speed corners with their nimbleness and lighter weight.

"Marco overtook me and I was taking care of the tires. When I was in the window for the stop, I pushed and tried to catch him," Dumas said. "Instead of losing a lot of time chasing him we elected to pit, although we ended up pitting at the same time. I think our team is very quick on tire changes. They don't make a lot of mistakes and I don't remember one in two years. So when we pit, we gain time and don't lose it. When we pitted, I was really close to Marco and when I left I saw him still in the pits."

The No. 7 duo increased their LMP2 championship lead to 13 points. They also won in class for the third straight year at Mid-Ohio; they were first in GT2 in 2005.

"The years we spent together in GT2 cars helps a lot adapting to a prototype," Bernhard said. "In a GT car, the corners are more important. You feel the limits of the car a lot earlier. In prototypes you have to be a bit braver to take the high-speed corners. The time I spent in GT helped a lot to get me where I am now. It's a different view from a prototype."

Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished third in class and fourth overall for Lowe's Fernandez Racing after leading for three laps late. The duo claimed their first podium finish since Sebring and posted the best finish for Acura in front of thousands of Honda employees.

Audi's Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner won the LMP1 class of the Acura Sports Car Challenge for their first Series win since Sebring.
Pirro and Werner took their first LMP1 win since Sebring and finished third overall, Audi's best finish since Houston in April. They led the class for the full two hours and 45 minutes in the diesel-powered prototype's Mid-Ohio debut after Dindo Capello in the sister R10 went off course on the opening lap following contact with Stefan Johansson in the Highcroft Racing Acura.

Saturday's win was the second each for Pirro and Werner and their first together at the 2.258-mile circuit. They led 67 of the first 88 laps.

"We had the pace of the Porsches if not more," Pirro said. "We can say we lost the race in the pits because we need a longer time to fill the car. That's the way it is for us. We tried our best and I think we can be satisfied. We didn't hope to be that competitive at such a small track."

They gained a little ground in the championship and stand 18 points behind Capello and Allan McNish. Despite the opening-lap shunt, the defending LMP1 champions finished fifth overall and on the lead lap.

Both Werner and Pirro are eager for the next Series round at Road America. At 4.048 miles, both think it will play directly into the hands of the R10 TDI.

"That is what we need with our R10 TDI," Werner said. "We knew our car was good for this race. We are looking forward to the longer tracks, especially Road America. For a driver it is a big challenge. We hope we can do this again."

Team Cytosport, making its first start since Long Beach, finished third with team owner Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf sharing the AER--powered Lola B06/10.

Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won for the second straight season in GT1 as Corvette Racing's No. 4 Corvette C6.R led flag-to-flag for a 28-second win over the sister car of Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen.

"For us it was challenging at times," Gavin said. "We were fortunate that our main competition started from the back and they stayed back about five seconds. The gap was yo-yoing up and down, and then Jan was spun by one of the Acuras. It all played out from there. The only tight situation I had was at the start. It seemed like it was slow. I couldn't get any heat in my front tires. The car was really good in the end and the track really came to us."

Gavin started from the class pole and took the checkered flag. O'Connell started 26th after the car failed Friday's post-qualifying inspection. He moved behind Gavin in the overall standings 20 minutes into the race but couldn't get closer than 5 seconds.

The two-time defending GT1 champions have now won twice in a row at Mid-Ohio and have opened a 32-point lead over O'Connell and Magnussen in the chase for a third straight title, an unprecedented feat in the American Le Mans Series. But Beretta knows clean races will be the key.

"We had a great race and great car," said the all-time leader in Series wins with 34 "The traffic was heavy at times. We have to watch in the front and the back. Sometimes that makes a hard life. If you take the wrong line, you can lose three or four seconds."

Flying Lizard Motorsports won for the third time in four years at Mid-Ohio and the second race in a row as Johannes van Overbeek and Jörg Bergmeister took a two-lap win over Risi Competizione's lead Ferrari of Jaime Melo and Mika Salo.

Bergmeister and van Overbeek increased their lead in the championship to 8 points. The other Risi Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Eric Helary finished third in class.

Johannes van Overbeek and Jorg Bergmeister gave Flying Lizard Motorsports its third GT2 win at Mid-Ohio in four years.
"In 2004 we had a superior car and it was a good fight and a good win," van Overbeek said. "Last year there was some attrition and it was the same this year. Ohio has been good to us."

The Lizard Porsche took the lead when class leader Salo and second-place Tomas Enge in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Ferrari collided and went off course 40 minutes into the race. It was a nearly similar situation to the last event at Lime Rock, and the Lizards took advantage again.

The outcome was sealed when Helary ran out of fuel coming into pitlane for his final stop with 33 minutes left. At the time he had a 50-second lead following the Lizards' final stop eight minutes earlier.

"That old expression about cooler heads prevailing fits in here," van Overbeek said. "We thought based on practice and qualifying that we had a good shot. Once the race started, the Ferrari on average was about a second faster. I was a little discouraged but then they helped us again. In outright pace, we didn't have a chance. Throughout the day we had struggled with the tires. It was a struggle for me and we made a change for Jörg but it didn't end up making a difference when the 61 ran out of fuel.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Generac 500 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. The four-hour race is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. NBC Sports will broadcast the race from 2:30-4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 12.

Acura Sports Car Challenge
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
Saturday's results
1. (1) Timo Bernhard, Germany; Romain Dumas, France; Porsche RS Spyder (1, P2), 134.
2. (2) Sascha Maassen, Germany; Ryan Briscoe, Australia; Porsche RS Spyder (2, P2), 134.
3. (8) Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Marco Werner, Germany; Audi AG/R10/TDI (3, P1), 134.
4. (3) Luis Diaz, Mexico; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico; Lola/B06-43/Acura (4, P2), 134.
5. (4) Rinaldo Capello, Italy; Allan McNish, Scotland; Audi AG/R10/TDI (5, P1), 134.
6. (5) Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Andy Wallace, England; Porsche RS Spyder (6, P2), 133.
7. (9) Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, England; Porsche RS Spyder (7, P2), 133.
8. (6) Stefan Johansson, Sweden; David Brabham, Australia; Duncan Dayton, North Salem, NY; Acura/ARX-01a (8, P2), 132.
9. (11) Greg Pickett, Santa Monica, CA; Klaus Graf, Germany; Lola B06/10 AER (9, P1), 128.
10. (7) Marino Franchitti, Scotland; Bryan Herta, Valencia, CA; Acura/ARX-01a (10, P2), 126.
11. (14) Oliver Gavin, England; Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Corvette C6.R (11, GT1), 125.
12. (27) Johnny O`Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Jan Magnussen, Denmark; Corvette C6.R (12, GT1), 125.
13. (13) Adam Pecorari, Aston, PA; Gunnar Van der Steur, Chesapeake City, MD; Radical / SR9/AER (13, P2), 119.
14. (18) Jörg Bergmeister, Germany; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (14, GT2), 118.
15. (16) Mika Salo, Finland; Jaime Melo, Brazil; Ferrari 430GT Berlin (15, GT2), 116.
16. (19) Eric Helary, France; Gianmaria Bruni, Italy; Ferrari 430GT Berlinetta (16, GT2), 116.
17. (22) Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA; Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (17, GT2), 114.
18. (24) Tim Pappas, Boston, MA; Terry Borcheller, Gainesville, GA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (18, GT2), 114.
19. (17) Tomas Enge, Czech Republic; Dirk Mueller, Germany; Ferrari 430GT (19, GT2), 113.
20. (15) Chris McMurry, Phoenix, AZ; Bryan Willman, Kirkland, WA; Creation CA06H-Judd (20, P1), 97.
21. (12) Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Richard Berry, Evergreen, CO; Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Creation/CA06H/Judd (21, P1), 96.
22. (26) Cindi Lux, Portland, OR; Stan Wilson, Mount Juliet, TN; Dodge Viper (22, GT2), 95.
23. (21) Ralf Kelleners, Germany; Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (23, GT2), 92.
24. (20) Wolf Henzler, Germany; Robin Liddell, Scotland; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (24, GT2), 83.
25. (25) Jim Tafel, Alpharetta, GA; Dominik Farnbacher, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (25, GT2), 80.
26. (23) Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA; Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA; Panoz Esperante GTLM (26, GT2), 49, Engine.
27. (10) Ben Devlin, England; Jamie Bach, West Palm Beach, FL; Lola/B07-40/Mazda (27, P2), 18, Turbo.