MONTEREY, Calif. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is returning to the scene of one of its most dominating races last season with the team traveling to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the third round on the 2013 American Le Mans Series schedule. This year’s race has been shortened to four hours as opposed to last year’s six-hour obstacle.
“Laguna is a special race,” said Muscle Milk driver Lucas Luhr. “It will be a little different this year because it’s a four-hour race instead of six hours but it won’t take away how great it is to go there. Both the track and the area are very nice and it is close to the CytoSport (Muscle Milk) headquarters, so a lot of friends and family from the company show up. Therefore, there is always a little extra motivation to have a good result there."
After a not so satisfying start to the year in Sebring, the 2012 LMP1 champions gained some momentum with their record-setting third win in a row on the streets of Long Beach a few weeks ago and are now looking forward to continuing where they left off last year at Laguna Seca.
During its 2012 visit to the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course, the team, led by drivers Klaus Graf and Luhr, took the win with a three lap lead on its closest on track rival.
“Last year we had a very quick and reliable car and we don’t expect anything less this year,” Graf said. “Lucas and I want to give Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and all the family and friends that will be present another win.”
While the team is confident its Michelin-clad, No. 6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a will once again be a strong contender in the shortened race, it also knows that the competition will be more difficult this time around.
“It is, for sure, going to be a good fight again with the competition in the P1 class, but Laguna Seca is a high downforce track and our Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a is quite good in that configuration,” Luhr said. “I look forward to it.”
However, no matter the level of difficulty, the Muscle Milk squad is always up for the challenge. The Greg Pickett-led team will also have a little extra motivation to do well, as the California event is also the home event for its sponsor Muscle Milk whose headquarters are located about 100 miles away in Benicia, Calif.
“Coming home is the motto for Laguna Seca, as it is the home race for our sponsor Muscle Milk and we certainly want to repeat our dominant win from last year’s event," Graf said.
The team will be looking to come out of the weekend with the outright lead in the P1 Championship standings after tying with Rebellion Racing for first place following the previous round.
Lucas Luhr is currently tied with Olivier Beretta for most career ALMS wins with 42 and is the driver with the most wins at Laguna Seca with six. The German also holds the record for multiple wins at 11 different venues.
It will be the sixth ALMS visit for the Greg Pickett-led team to the Monterey area track. In addition to last season’s win, they also have two second place finishes (one in the LMP2 class and one overall).
On track activities kicked-off Thursday with the two-hour promoter test session and Muscle Milk was second, behind Rebellion Racing and in front of the Dyson Racing entry.
“The Laguna Seca race track provides a unique experience with its layout as well as the track conditions,” Graf said. “With the race start being in the late afternoon we usually experience a dramatic shift in track temperature, which can have a big impact on the car behavior."