Dyson Racing finally scored its first outright win of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season as Guy Smith held off another remarkable comeback charge by the dominant Pickett HPD to take the closest victory in championship history.
Smith and team-mate Chris Dyson had been forced to start from the back of the grid after a gearbox problem in qualifying, and although Dyson was up to second within just nine laps, by that time Klaus Graf had already established a 45s advantage for Pickett, having led by 6s after only one lap.
Shortly afterwards, though, it all went wrong for Pickett as a water leak led to a four-lap delay, and left Graf and Lucas Luhr playing catch-up for the second time in three races.
A mix of on-track passes and yellows falling their way amazingly meant Luhr and Graf were able to repeat their Lime Rock achievement of recovering a four-lap deficit. But unlike at Lime Rock, this time the Dyson crew were able to hold them off.
The final full course caution brought Smith's advantage down to 13s with 19 minutes to go, and the HPD lapping up to 3s faster. They were nose to tail going into the final lap, yet Smith was able to use the Lola-Mazda's straightline speed to cling on and end Pickett's victory streak by the record margin of just 0.083s.
The second Dyson Lola-Mazda completed the overall podium, while LMP2 victory went to Conquest's Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson in fourth. Conquest kept Level 5 at bay for the majority of the race, and a late puncture for Christophe Bouchut left Plowman free to wrap up the win.
GT began as a battle between the two Flying Lizard Porsches and the #4 Corvette, then became a tussle between the two Corvettes and the #45 Porsche as various strategies played out, before the BMWs emerged in first and second by not pitting under the final yellow.
Jorg Muller and Bill Auberlen were able to both stretch their fuel mileage and resist their pursuers to claim the class win. Flying Lizard's Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long battled through to second, with Corvette's points leaders Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner fourth behind the Scott Sharp/Johannes van Overbeek Extreme Speed Ferrari.
CORE Autosport wrapped up the LMPC teams' title with a one-two, led by Alex Popow and Tom Kimber-Smith. Alex Job Racing's Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil edged out the JDX and #34 Green Hornet entries to win GTC.
Results - 101 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. P1 Dyson/Smith Dyson Lola-Mazda 4h01m48.009s 2. P1 Luhr/Graf Pickett HPD + 0.083s 3. P1 Marsal/Lux/Burgess Dyson Lola-Mazda + 47.275s 4. P2 Plowman/Heinemeier Hansson Conquest Morgan-Nissan + 1m04.709s 5. PC Popow/Kimber-Smith CORE FLM + 1 lap 6. PC Bennett/Braun CORE FLM + 1 lap 7. PC Marcelli/Ducote/French Merchant FLM + 1 lap 8. PC Junqueira/Gonzalez RSR FLM + 1 lap 9. P2 Dempsey/Foster Dempsey Lola-Judd + 2 laps 10. PC Richard/Ende Dempsey FLM + 2 laps 11. P2 Tucker/Bouchut Level 5 HPD + 2 laps 12. P2 Tucker/Diaz Level 5 HPD + 3 laps 13. GT Muller/Auberlen RLL BMW + 4 laps 14. GT Bergmeister/Long Flying Lizard Porsche + 4 laps 15. GT Sharp/van Overbeek Extreme Speed Ferrari + 4 laps 16. GT Gavin/Milner Corvette + 4 laps 17. PC Downs/Downs/Downs Merchant FLM + 4 laps 18. GT Miller/Maassen Miller Porsche + 4 laps 19. GT Magnussen/Garcia Corvette + 4 laps 20. GT Sweedler/Bell Alex Job Lotus + 4 laps 21. GT Neiman/Holzer Flying Lizard Porsche + 5 laps 22. GT Wittmer/Farnbacher SRT Viper + 5 laps 23. GT Muller/Summerton RLL BMW + 6 laps* 24. GT Brown/Cosmo/Lazzaro Extreme Speed Ferrari + 6 laps 25. GTC MacNeil/Bleekemolen Alex Job Porsche + 8 laps 26. GTC Cumming/Ragginger JDX Porsche + 8 laps 27. GTC LeSaffre/Faulkner Green Hornet Porsche + 8 laps 28. GTC Faieta/Avenatti Competition Porsche + 8 laps 29. GTC Sofronas/Welch/Villeneuve GMG Porsche + 8 laps 30. GTC Huisman/Wong Green Hornet Porsche + 10 laps 31. GT Henzler/Sellers Falken Porsche + 26 laps* 32. GTC Benitez/Benitez NGT Porsche + 30 laps 33. GTC Di Guida/Pumpelly TRG Porsche + 32 laps Retirements: GT Goossens/Kendall SRT Viper 45 laps PC Junco/Franchitti PR1 Mathiasen FLM 23 laps * Not running at finish