BOWMANVILLE, ONT. - Birthday boys Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf exchanged gifts at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Sunday by winning the Mobile 1 Mosport Grand Prix.
Luhr, who turned 33 on race day, and Graf who celebrated his 43rd birthday Saturday, dominated the American Le Mans Series LMP1 class in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Honda ARX-03a.
The No. 6 team, in fact , was so strong that not even a 20-second stop-and-go penalty assessed for having too many crew members over the pit wall with 25 laps left in the two-hour, 45 minute race, could keep them from taking the checkered flag a whopping 10.965 seconds in front of second-place finishers Chris Dyson and Guy Smith in the No. 6 Lola B12/60 Mazda.
Until that penalty it looked as if the Muscle Milk Honda Performance Development machine would finish by lapping the entire grid, they were that fast.
“It looked pretty easy but we still had to push hard,” Luhr said. “Twice during the race we had a big lead — so big that we were about to lap the field and then the yellow came out.
“When we did finally lap the field we had that pit road penalty, so there were some tense moments, but overall it was a good race for our team.”
It was the third Mosport GP win in a row for the Muscle Milk team — all three with Graf as part of the driving duo.
“I love this place,” Graf said. “It is a fantastic race track; very challenging and a lot of fast corners. We always seem to get the car dialled in here.
“You need a lot of confidence driving here but it makes it much easier when you have the right package and we had the right package today.”
Luhr, a four-time winner at CTMP, agreed with his teammate.
“Racing here in Canada suits us,” he said. “The team has won here for three straight years and I have won here in 2006, 2008, 2011 and now this year.”
There was one moment at the very start of the race on the 3.957 km road course, however, where Luhr found himself behind Chris Dyson at the No. 6 car, but only because Dyson had jumped the start.
“I could not believe what he was doing,” Luhr said. “At first I was angry but quickly I knew I would catch him pretty easy and I was never worried after that.”
Graf, however, said he was concerned when the team got the late penalty.
“When we got that stop and go penalty it could have been a game changer,” Graf said. “It certainly made it a little exciting.
“Other than that we had pretty much everything under control.
“We had a very good HPD car.”
And by the way, the birthday gifts that the pair exchanged were cakes thrown in each other’s face.
In the LMP2 class Martin Plowman and David Hansson won in the No. 37 Conquest Endurance Morgan Nissan.
Former Indycar winner Bruno Junqueira won his first LMPC class race for RSR Racing in the No. 9 Oreca FLM with Tomy Drissi as co-driver.
In the tough GT class Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took their No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 car to victory lane in front of Corvette and Ferrari.
D.J. Kennington won for the fourth consecutive time Sunday in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series at the Edmonton Indy in the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge. Jason Hathaway was second in the No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Vortex Brake Pads Dodge with Trevor Seibert third in the No. 69 Lake Excavating/EMCO Waterworks Dodge ... Kyle Marcelli took top honours in the Porsche GT3 Canadian Challenge at CTMP driving the No. 9 Pfaff Racing GT3. He has a big edge, however, as the only professional racer in the field.
Marcelli's dreams dashed at home
It was a heartbreaking end to what was an almost perfect race for Kyle Marcelli and the No. 8 Merchant Services LMPC Oreca FLM09.
The 23-year-old from Barrie was rear-ended at more than 250 km/h with less than 20 laps left in the Mobil 1 Mosport Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park just as he was about to chase down eventual class winner Bruno Junqueira.
The result was Marcelli spinning wildly in Turn 8 and coming to rest in a tire barrier, his car and his chance at victory in his home race wrecked.
“I don’t really know how it happened; it happened so fast,” he said. “I was coming into Turn 8, the fastest turn on the track, doing about 260 km/h when the No. 16 Dyson (LMP1) car (Guy Smith) came up behind me.
“I knew I had a (GTC) Porsche on one side of me so I had no where to go. The next thing I knew the Dyson car was hitting me and immediately I knew that my right rear tire was flat.
“I started to spin and went right into the tires.”
Marcelli said that he was confident that had he not crashed he would have caught Junqueira.
“It is heartbreaking because we were on the right strategy,” he said. “We were fast all day. I knew we had the best car and I knew that we were going to catch Junqueira.”
Even Junqueira admitted afterwards that he knew Marcelli was coming for him.