BOWMANVILLE — Under clear blue skies with temperatures hoovering in the mid-30s all afternoon on Sunday, Klaus Graf beat the heat and clock to win the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mosport in front of a crowd estimated at close to 40,000.
The clock came into play when, with 29 minutes left in the two-hour-45-minute race, Luke Hines, in the No. 48 GTC Porsche spun out and knocked a five-metre portion of guard rail out on the Andretti straight just past Turn 6.
Officials red flagged the race — only the second time in ALMS history an event has been stopped — until safety crews could make repairs.
At that time Graf, driving the No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder, had almost a full lap lead over rival Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham in the No. 1 Patron Highcroft Honda ARX-01C and looked like a victory that had escaped the Muscle Milk Team last week at Road America was inevitable.
But the red flag threw a temporary scare into Graf and the No. 6 squad. However, after more than an hour of attempting to rebuild the broken guard rail, ALMS bosses called it a race.
“What happened at Road America absolutely makes this one sweeter,” Graf said in the mayhem that engulfed him in Victory Lane that topped off a series of celebrations this season that marked the 50th anniversary of the four-kilometre, 10-turn Mosport International Raceway nestled in the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine, 50 kilometres east of the GTA.
“We came within a couple of hundred metres of winning last week so to win this one and win it in the style we did makes it extra special.”
The biggest difference between the two races, Graf said, was that at Road America they took a chance to stay out ahead of the Highcroft team in the final stages in hopes of sneaking in a win.
“Last week was a big gamble; this week we were just the fastest car from start to finish,” Graf said.
Graf admitted that the confidence he and teammate Romain Dumas took from the second-place finish a week earlier helped immensely at Mosport.
“I couldn’t be happier after what happened last weekend,” he said. “Today we had (Highcroft) covered from the start. The team did an awesome job preparing the car. We didn’t make any mistakes either on the track or on the pit stops.
“I think we really, really deserved this one. It was a blessing to drive this car every lap today. ”
Now trailing the Highcroft duo by just 16 points with just one race — the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 2 — to go in the 2010 season, Graf is champing at the bit to get to the final event.
“It’s great for the fans and the series to have such a close championship going down to the wire,” he said. “I’m sure the Highcroft guys are getting ready for Petit Le Mans too.
“Ten hours at Road Atlanta will be hard work, but I don’t mind the hard work if it means we can win the championship.”
Toronto’s Tony Burgess and teammate Johnny Mowlam were third overall in the No. 12 Lola B09 60.
In the LMPC class, Gunnar Jeanette and Elton Julian took the checker with Barrie rookie Kyle Marcelli and his teammate Chapman Ducote finishing fourth in class.
In the GT class, the Ferraris of Patrick Long and Joerg Burgmeister were winners with Gianmaria Bruni and Tony Vilander second in a another Ferrari.