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Graf, Muscle Milk Out Front Early in Monterey

BMWs sit 1-2 in GT during Mazda Raceway testing

Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing Photo by Dan Boyd/American Le Mans SeriesKlaus Graf and Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing fired the first salvo at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Thursday with the fastest lap in a two-hour test session for the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón. Graf set a time of 1:16.293 (105.603 mph) in the Aston Martin-powered Lola coupe that he will drive with Lucas Luhr.

Muscle Milk is trying to run down Dyson Racing for the LMP1 championship in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Graf sits second in the drivers’ standings behind Chris Dyson and Guy Smith by 24 points; class winners this weekend will earn 25 points.

Steven Kane was second behind Graf in the test session with a lap of 1:17.257 (104.286 mph) in Oryx Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda. Kane and Humaid Al Masaood were winners in the most recent ALMS race at Baltimore. Butch Leitzinger will join the duo at Monterey and again at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans in two weeks.

Smith was third quickest at 1:17.596 (103.830 mph); he is driving with Dyson and Jay Cochran.

BMW Team RLL sat 1-2 in GT, led by Joey Hand’s lap of 1:23.488 (96.502 mph) set early in the session in his BMW M3 GT. Hand and teammate Dirk Müller also lead the class drivers’ championship, as does BMW Team RLL in the team standings and BMW among manufacturers.

BMW Team RLL Photo by Dan Boyd/American Le Mans SeriesBill Auberlen was second among the GT runners at 1:23.603 (96.370 mph) in the M3 he is driving with Dirk Werner. Jörg Bergmeister sat third at 1:23.926 (95.999 mph) in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that he will share with Patrick Long.

The five fastest GT cars were within 0.996 seconds of each other. There were four manufacturers among the group – BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, running as an unclassified entry, ranked fifth among the GT runners. Richard Lietz had been the fastest production-based driver early in the session, and he set the car’s best lap of 1:24.132 (95.764 mph). He is driving with Romain Dumas.

Level 5 Motorsports’ Christophe Bouchut was the fastest LMP2 driver with a lap of 1:20.701 (99.835 mph) in the team’s new HPD ARX-01g. This is the first race for the HPD chassis, which received its shakedown at Infineon Raceway earlier this week. Bouchut will drive with Luis Diaz and Scott Tucker.

CORE autosport’s Ricardo Gonzalez was the quickest LMP Challenge driver with a lap of 1:20.787 (99.729 mph) in the ORECA FLM09 he will share with Gunnar Jeannette and Rudy Junco. Gonzalez and Jeannette lead the class championship.

Andy Wallace, driving with CORE for the first time, was just 0.424 seconds behind in the car he will drive with Frankie Montecalvo and Jon Bennett. Genoa Racing’s Eric Lux, second in the championship, was third quickest Thursday at 1:21.348 (99.041 mph). He is driving with Elton Julian and Sebring class winner Michael Guasch.

The top four cars in class were within 0.712 seconds.

Porsche factory driver Martin Ragginger went quickest in GT Challenge for NGT Motorsport, just hours after being added to the lineup for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The Austrian driver set a best lap of 1:28.290 (91.254 mph) in the car he is sharing with Carlos Kauffman and Henrique Cisneros. Ragginger was 0.244 seconds quicker than TRG’s Spencer Pumpelly, who was quickest for a majority of the session in the Porsche he will drive with Duncan Ende and Peter Ludwig.

Damien Faulkner sat third for Green Hornet Racing at 1:28.686 (90.846 mph), just 0.396 seconds behind Ragginger. Faulkner is driving with Peter LeSaffre.

Friday’s first practice session is set for 10:35 a.m. PT.

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