Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s try for a fifth straight victory in the American Le Mans Series is off to a good start; driver Lucas Luhr set the fastest time in testing Thursday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – a 1:12.331 (112.383 mph) in the team’s No. 6 Honda Performance Development ARX-03a.
Luhr and Klaus Graf’s winning streak dates back to Long Beach in April. They enter Mid-Ohio leading the ALMS’ P1 championship by 12 points over Dyson Racing’s Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. Class winners in Saturday’s race earn 20 points, and the Graf/Luhr won here last season.
Dyson was second overall 1:15.186 (108.116 mph) in the No. 16 Mazda-powered Lola coupe. The No. 20 Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda of Eric Lux was third in class at 1:15.485 (107.688 mph).
Johannes van Overbeek provided another late thrill for Extreme Speed Motorsports with the quickest GT lap. He set a time of 1:20.486 (100.996 mph) in ESM’s No. 01 Ferrari F458 Italia less than two weeks after a last-lap pass at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park gave the team its first ALMS victory.
Thursday, van Overbeek was only 0.023 seconds clear of BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen in the No. 55 BMW M3 GT and another 0.221 seconds clear of Dirk Müller in the No. 56 BMW. The class was its usual competitive self; only 0.745 seconds separate the top eight cars.
SRT Motorsports’ two SRT Viper GTS-Rs made their ALMS debut as Dominik Farnbacher posted the team’s best time in the No. 91 entry – a 1:22.891 (98.066 mph).
The P2 battle between Level 5 Motorsports and Conquest Endurance renewed again Thursday. Christophe Bouchut set the class’ best time in the session – a 1:15.367 (107.856 mph) in Level 5’s No. 055 HPD ARX-03b. The team saw its five-race win streak end at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park at the hands of Conquest’s Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson.
Plowman was 0.774 seconds back in the No. 37 Morgan-Nissan prototype. Tucker was third in Level 5’s No. 95 entry at 1:16.989 (105.584 mph).
Marino Franchitti turned the fastest Prototype Challenge lap in only his second weekend in the class. His time of 1:16.862 (105.758 mph) in the No. 52 ORECA FLM09 put him 0.275 seconds ahead of RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira, who won his first ALMS race two weeks ago at CTMP with Tomy Drissi.
CORE autosport’s Colin Braun was third in the No. 05 entry at 1:17.876 (104.381 mph). He and Jon Bennett enter Mid-Ohio sharing the class championship lead with Alex Popow, their teammate in the No. 06 ORECA.
In GT Challenge, JDX Racing’s Tim Pappas made his return to ALMS in style with the quickest lap – a 1:26.035 (94.482 mph) in the No. 11 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen won in class last year for Black Swan Racing at Mid-Ohio.
The top three cars in class Thursday were within 0.084 seconds. Damien Faulkner was second for Green Hornet Racing at 1:26.105 (94.406 mph). Spencer Pumpelly was next for TRG at 1:26.119 (94.390 mph).
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge is set for 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 4 from the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. ABC’s broadcast featuring live coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET. Enhanced coverage begins at 12:45 p.m. ET on ALMS.com’s Race Central.