When Muscle Milk Pickett Racing hit trouble, it was clear sailing for Rebellion Racing, which scored back-to-back Petit Le Mans victories and took top overall honors in the final American Le Mans Series race.
The day also belonged to Level 5 Motorsports and owner/driver Scott Tucker, who claimed his fourth drivers’ championship with a win in the P2 class.
BAR1 Motorsports earned top honors in Prototype Challenge, but it was PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Mike Guasch that took the drivers’ title by a single point, while CORE autosport locked up its third consecutive teams’ title.
Up front, Neel Jani took the No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota to a six-lap victory in the 1,000-mile/10-hour enduro, which saw started in wet conditions before drying out by the mid afternoon.
While having started from the pole, it wasn’t clear sailing for the Angl0-Swiss squad in the early stages.
Jani made contact with a Prototype Challenge car late in the opening hour, which resulted in a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for avoidable contact plus repairs to the nose, costing them nearly three laps.
It handed the lead to the P1 championship-winning Muscle Milk Pickett squad until Romain Dumas pitted with overheating issues midway through the race, which later led to a retirement for the HPD ARX-03c.
As a result, it marked a repeat victory for Jani, Nicolas Prost, teamed with Nick Heidfeld this year.
“We were still lucky, I would say,” Jani said. “Slowly we came back. We had a very good car and very good pace. The team did a good job fixing everything. Then my teammates took over and they did a good job to get the car back in the lead so I could just finish the race.”
The No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda of Chris Dyson, Chris McMurry and Tony Burgess came home second in P1 and 11th overall.
Like the Muscle Milk HPD, the DeltaWing coupe also retired, leaving only two finishers in the final P1 race.
A thrilling late-race battle for P2 honors went the way of Level 5′s Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, who edged out the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARx-03b of David Brabham by 1.394 seconds.
The two cars swapped the lead numerous times throughout the race, with a quicker final fuel-only stop for Level 5 ultimately put Briscoe ahead of his countryman Brabham.
With the win, Tucker ended his ALMS career with a perfect championship record, as well as for the Level 5 team, which clinched the P2 teams’ title at Virginia International Raceway.
Brabham and co-drivers Anthony Lazzaro and title contender Scott Sharp were second, followed by the No. 552 Level 5 entry of Guy Cosmo, Jonny Kane and Peter Dumbreck, which finished one lap behind after leading early.
BAR1 claimed its third consecutive PC class win, thanks to an impressive closing triple stint by Kyle Marcelli, who sealed the win for he and co-drivers Cumming and Stefan Johansson.
The No. 8 entry finished 11.4 seconds ahead of the debuting No. 25 8Star Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall, which had dominated much of the race.
CORE autosport notched its third straight teams’ championship, despite some post-race confusion that had originally awarded it to BAR1 Motorsport. However, with the 8Star car not being a full-season entry, and thus not scoring team points, the third-place finishing CORE entry scores second place team points in the race.
There was similar confusion in the drivers’ championship, as Cumming was brought onto the podium and declared champion, but PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Mike Guasch was listed as champion in the provisional points standings for the same reason.
The CORE team was tied for the championship lead with PR1/Mathiasen heading into Saturday but the Bobby Oergel-led PR1 squad suffered a disastrous race, triggered by an early race incident by the Rebellion Lola, which was handed a penalty for avoidable contact.
Losing nearly 20 laps in the garage for suspension and radiator repairs, the No. 52 car finished fifth in class, but received fourth place points, which was good enough for Guash to win the championship.
After a season of disappointment, Team Falken Tire broke through for its first victory of the year in the final race of the series.
An inspired final stint by Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy saw the 2010-spec No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR edge out a narrow 0.741 second win over the No. 56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE of Dirk Mueller, John Edwards and Bill Auberlen in second.
Tandy and full-season Falken drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler bounced back from a two-lap deficit early in the 1,000-mile/10-hour enduro after making a miscue on tire choice.
“We really started behind the eight-ball,” Sellers said. “But nobody gave up… We were all laughing before we started the race because we expected a little bit more rain. We were strong in the rain. Tandy said, ‘I don’t see how we can’t win.’ We all laughed a little bit. But it ended up being our day.”
A sixth place finish for the No. 3 Corvette Racing C6.R was enough for Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia to take the GT drivers’ championship, one race after the factory squad wrapped up the teams’ and manufacturers’ titles.
The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari of Matteo Malucelli, Olivier Beretta and Robin Liddell completed the podium in third on Saturday.
GTC class honors went to the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Spencer Pumpelly, Nelson Canache and Madison Snow, with the California-based squad also wrapping up the teams’ championship.
Pumpelly edged out the No. 27 Dempsey Racing entry of Andy Lally by 5.839 seconds for the win. The No. 11 JDX Racing Porsche completed the podium in third.
A fourth place finish in class for Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil was enough for the Alex Job Racing duo to claim the drivers’ championship, despite a scare during its final stop when its Porsche initially failed to refire.
Bleekemolen was running second at the time.
A late-race full course caution for the No. 66 TRG Porsche of Damien Faulkner, who stopped on track while running second in class, set up a 10-lap shootout to the finish.