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Local Sports

ESM gets 1st ALMS win

Special to Highlands Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 07:40 PM

Prior to the start of Sunday's Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park many people were talking about Extreme Speed Motorsports driver Johannes van Overbeek making his 100th career ALMS start. When the dust had settled, people were talking about his last-lap pass of Corvette driver Jan Magnussen.

While the move apparently moved the ESM No. 01 Ferrari F458 Italia into second place, the car which crossed the finish line first, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, was excluded in post-race technical inspections. That moved the ESM Ferrari to first place, giving the Florida team its first-ever ALMS victory.

"I couldn't be happier for Scott (Sharp), Ed (Brown), ESM and Patrón," said van Overbeek, hero of the race. "After the podium the race just didn't feel over; and as it turned out it wasn't. Winning at Mosport caps a great weekend and it was a fine way to celebrate my 100th start in this dynamic and competitive series. I hope it's a sign of things to come."

It was a twist to what was already a nail-biting finish. A late caution with 20 minutes remaining bunched up the top three GT cars, which didn't really need much bunching up anyway. It put Flying Lizard's Jorg Bergmeister, Corvette Racing's Magnussen and van Overbeek nose-to-tail with 11 minutes remaining.

Magnussen, who teamed with Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C6 ZR1, hounded Bergmeister for 10 of those minutes. While he attempted to take the lead on the final lap, Magnussen opened the door for van Overbeek to slide the Ferrari inside the Corvette at the exit of Turn 5 and take second place.

The move, of course, ended up meaning much more following post-race inspections.

"Jan is a tough customer and I figured that was the only shot I had at him," van Overbeek said. "I didn't want to telegraph it earlier, so I saved it for last. There were three of us running in a train. Getting to them and getting around them was a whole different story. I had a bad aero push and I knew that was the only shot – in 5a and 5b – to get around the Corvette. I made a Hail Mary on the last lap and it worked out."

Muscle Milk Pickett Racing won for the third straight year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won in the No. 6 Honda Performance Development ARX-03a by more than 10 seconds over Dyson Racing's Chris Dyson and Guy Smith in their No. 16 Lola-Mazda coupe.

Conquest Endurance's Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson won their first race in the No. 37 Morgan-Nissan with Plowman's late-race drive to hold off Level 5 Motorsports' Christophe Bouchut in the LMP2 class.

Bouchut in the No. 055 Honda Performance Development ARX-03b chased down Plowman at the final restart, and each of the cars used traffic to their advantage. Bouchut was too aggressive with five minutes left; he drifted into the pit exit lane and drew a stop-and-go penalty.

Plowman eventually won by 19.713 seconds in a race that saw the Conquest car lead overall at one point – just as it did at Lime Rock Park two weeks ago.

Eric Lux and Tony Burgess finished third in P1 and fifth overall in a second Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda.

RSR Racing's Bruno Junqueira and Tomy Drissi won in Prototype Challenge for the first time as a pairing. Junqueira in the No. 9 ORECA FLM09 finished a lap ahead of CORE autosport's Colin Braun and Jon Bennett in the No. 05 entry.

The victory was the first in ALMS for Junqueira since his jump from open-wheel racing. It also was the first for RSR, owned by Paul Gentilozzi, which fielded a Jaguar GT effort from 2009-2011.

"I am very happy," Junqueira said. "The only time we showed some speed was here last year. We were really hankering for our first win. Finally we got it. After a year-and-a-half for the team, it is even more special. We have been in contention in every race for a win. Today we finally did it."

TRG won the GT Challenge class for the second year in a row at CTMP. Spencer Pumpelly took advantage of late engine troubles for JDX Racing and drove the No. 66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to a 1.440-second victory over Alex Job Racing's Leh Keen.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge. The sixth round of the 2012 championship is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4, from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. ABC's broadcast featuring live coverage begins at 2 p.m. (863) 386-xxxx