Motorsports Update – May 13, 2012

American Le Mans Series
American Le Mans Monterey, presented by Patron
Muscle Milk Pickett Racing cruised to its second straight victory at the American Le mans Monterey, presented by Patrón. But another thrilling GT battle stole the show as Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner also took their second consecutive class win.

The last 90 minutes of the GT race undoubtedly was the highlight with seven cars in the class within two seconds in the closing hour including the two Corvettes, two BMW Team RLL’s and Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs from Flying Lizard Motorsports and Team Falken Tire.

Gavin made what turned out to be the winning pass in his Corvette C6.R on Team Falken Tire’s Wolf Henzler with a little less than an hour left at the final turn. But the drama carried on for the next 60 minutes. Bill Auberlen in the No. 55 BMW M3 GT looked set to challenge Gavin for the race win before Jan Magnussen in the sister Corvette muscled his way past the BMW with less than 15 minutes to go.

At the front of the field, Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr dominated. The duo trailed for less than a quarter of the opening lap after a strong start at the green flag by Dyson Racing.

Next race:
Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, Le Mans, May 20

AMA Pro Racing
Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam, Infineon Raceway, Sonoma 
With 54 riders on the grid for the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race at Infineon Raceway, the field was large and competitive. Unlike Road Atlanta, where James Rispoli and Jake Lewis ran away, a trio of riders challenged in Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Race 1 on Saturday and no less than five riders battled at the front in Race 2 on Sunday.

Dustin Dominguez (Castrol Latus Motors Racing Triumph) and Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) split the victories, trading the first two spots on both days.

GRAND-AM Road Racing
Global Barter 250, New Jersey Motorsports Park
Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor (#10 SunTrust Corvette DP) picked up their second consecutive GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype victory and SunTrust Racing’s 20th overall win in the Rolex Series.

The #10 SunTrust Corvette DP was one of the strongest cars throughout the weekend, as evidenced by the fact that Taylor put the car on the pole position in qualifying and he and Angelelli combined to lead a race-high 921 of the 117 laps in the race.

Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato (#69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458) claimed a repeat GT-class victory.

Formula 1
Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Santander
Pastor Maldonado was the hero of Barcelona Sunday afternoon. The Venezuelan’s speed in his Williams FW34 came out of left field on Saturday, and in the race he became the fifth different winner this season and the seventh in seven races when he steered it to the British team’s first victory since Brazil 2004.

And Maldonado did it the hard way, fending off a hungry Fernando Alonso who burst through to the lead for Ferrari for the first 27 laps. He moved ahead after the second round of pit stops, and by then Alonso’s challenge seemed broken. After the third stops, however, the Spaniard got his second wind and the gap shrank steadily and by the 48th lap the race was back on, as Alonso never looked more dangerous. Lotus’s’ Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finished third and fourth respectively.

Next race:
Indianapolis 500, May 27

Bojangles’ Southern 500, Darlington Raceway
After 16 races and some seven months of anticipation, Rick Hendrick got his 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory via Jimmie Johnson’s triumph Saturday night in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Johnson held off Denny Hamlin in a two-lap sprint to the finish after a late caution flag. Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five.

Next race:
Dollar General NHRA Summernationals, Topeka, Kansas, May 18-20

World Superbike
Donington Park
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) took his second race win of the season after an incident-strewn race at Donington. On the first corner Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) touched and Checa went down, taking out Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert Ducati) and Checa’s team-mate Davide Giugliano.

Then Laverty crashed down Craner Curves, as up front eventual third place man Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) led for most of the race distance. He was finally mugged by a warring faction which included eventual second place man Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) and both BMW Motorrad Motorsport Riders, Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri. After a multitude of overtakes and riders running off track on occasion, Haslam looked to have it won until both he and Melandri ran wide at the very last corner and Rea pushed inside. They collided and Haslam fell, knocking off Melandri as he slid on the track. Rea held on to win by just over half a second from Biaggi, with Sykes two second back. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) was an impressive fourth.

Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites