Muscle Milk Pickett Racing officially kicked off its 2012 season in the American Le Mans Series at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday by posting the fastest P1 lap of the day, as well as being quickest of the non-diesel powered cars in the field.
The team's HPD ARX-03a, driven by Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Simon Pagenaud, even split the Audis in the morning practice session when Graf placed second overall, despite still learning the intricacies of its new car.
While Muscle Milk Pickett Racing's P1 team was going through its practice program, the PC side was also putting its #5 Muscle Milk / Molecule car through its paces.
The trio of Memo Gidley, Mike Guasch and Roger Wills found themselves at the top of the PC time sheets in the morning practice session and led the majority of the afternoon one.
The Greg Pickett-led team will have another hour practice on Friday before taking on its first qualifying session of the season.
Qualifying for Round 1 of the 2012 American Le Mans Series season will be streamed live on ESPN3.com starting at 3:15 pm ET.
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida will go green on Saturday, March 17 at 10:30 am ET, with live streaming on ESPN3.com beginning at 10:15 am ET. The race will be broadcast on tape-delay on ABC Sunday, March 17th at noon.
Muscle Milk Quotes
Klaus Graf, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a "It was a little bit of a roller coaster day but at the end of it, we were still the fastest non-diesel car and we even split the Audis up this morning.
"Every time we go out on track we're learning and when you learn, you don't always go uphill, sometimes there are some downhills as well but the car is reliable at the moment which is very important. We still have to remember what our main goal is, which is to win the ALMS race so considering that, we're in pretty good shape. We're close to the diesels and we are the best of the rest by quite a bit, so I'm quite pleased with it.
"It's obviously been a lot of work for the crew so I hope the guys can get a little bit of rest and that we can reward them for their hard work on Saturday."
Lucas Luhr, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a "We had some ups and downs today. On the one hand its good though because we get to try a lot of things. Overall, I think we are heading in the right direction and at the end of the day we made the car better.
"I think, as does Klaus and Simon, that we're still not quite where we could be, but we have another session to go on Friday.
"Now, we need to prepare ourselves for the race even if there is qualifying tomorrow. I think where we start doesn't really matter because there are so many cars and with so much traffic it's crazy out there as we saw it tonight. I'm confident that our Muscle Milk boys will give us a good handling, solid car for the race, and I'm looking forward to it."
Simon Pagenaud, #6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a "It was a good day overall. In the end we placed the Muscle Milk HPD right behind the Audis and that's very good. However, it was an interesting day trying to make the car work with the track, we tried different things and by the end of the session it was very positive. I think we're heading in the right direction.
"I'm getting excited now, I think we have our finger on what we need to do and it's coming together. It's taking longer than we would like because the sessions are short, there are a lot of cars on track and there were a lot of red flags, which makes it very difficult for the team to get to try what they want to try. It's especially frustrating for the engineers but everyone is doing a great job and I think we should be good tomorrow for qualifying and Saturday for the race."
Mike Guasch, #5 Muscle Milk/Molecule Oreca FLM09 "It was great to finally take part in our first official ALMS practice day. We had a very good morning practice with Memo posting the fastest time of the session. Roger and myself also put in some good laps so it was a very satisfying session all around. Especially considering the fact that we had a setback the night before when they handed down some new rule changes, but our engineer did a great job of figuring it out and he gave us a good car.
"The afternoon session was hampered by red flags and while we were trying different things, we still had a decent practice even if it doesn't show on the time sheets.
"Going into the night practice, we wanted to play it safe and sound. It always seems that night practice is a little crazy with a lot of crashes and damage. We pretty much just did our minimum laps and brought it in to get ready for tomorrow."
Memo Gidley, #5 Muscle Milk/Molecule Oreca FLM09 "We had some strong runs in all the sessions. We were first in the morning session and then we led a bunch of the afternoon session before getting bumped down a few spots, so in the end, the day went well.
"I think the pace of the Muscle Milk / Molecule car was great. During the daytime, it was fantastic. At night, it was a whole different deal. The car was still good, but it was utter chaos out there. However, it was actually pretty exciting to drive. This track has some dark spots on it, unlike Daytona where I've run many, many times and so you really have to go on your memory of the race track and that makes it exciting but there certainly was a lot of carnage out there!"
Roger Wills, #5 Muscle Milk/Molecule Oreca FLM09 "I was out in the afternoon session today and I must say it was a little frustrating. It just seemed like I never, ever had a clear lap. When I came in, I was sort of disappointed with it all and I thought my times should have been better.
"After the session, we sat down and looked at the video and it confirmed that I didn't ever get a clear run, not one. So in retrospect I was pretty happy with it.
"Then tonight, it was chaos. It was madness. I sort of felt that I had missed out on some track time so I was really keen to run as long as I could tonight but there were cars going off left, front and center and it was crazy.
"The last thing I wanted to do is damage the car and go off and hit something so in the end I came on the radio and said 'I think I've had enough guys'!
"I know in the race it will be different and better than tonight. I raced quite a bit at night last year and it wasn't as crazy as night practice."