Muscle Milk Pickett Racing made hard work of what should have been a routine victory in an American Le Mans Series race in Baltimore severely interrupted by accidents and caution periods. It was the fifth consecutive victory in the team’s HPD ARX-03c started from the pole by Klaus Graf and unofficially clinched the second consecutive P1 drivers’ championship for the pair with three races remaining.
At the second of many restarts, the only other P1 car the Dyson Racing Lola was judged to have jumped the start. The subsequent penalty should have made the result a foregone conclusion given the limited amount of racing laps, but a mysterious late problem for Lucas Luhr meant Guy Smith found himself in the lead with under 20 minutes to go.
Still, the HPD had been quicker than the Lola all weekend, and eventually Luhr retook the lead. Smith did not let him get away, though, and with damage to its rear bodywork the Pickett car struggled to the finish.
The race had been only seconds old when it was stopped. Level 5’s Scott Tucker was pushed into a spin by Anthony Lazzaro’s Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD. With the whole pack heading toward him, chaos erupted. Most seriously affected were Wolf Henzler’s Falken Porsche, the Olivier Beretta Risi Ferrari, Bryce Miller’s Paul Miller Racing Porsche and Tom Kimber-Smith’s CORE Autosport 911, which were all eliminated on the spot.
After a wait of over an hour, the restart was a damp squib as the cars failed to line up correctly and it was waved off. At the second attempt the race actually got going – until Turn 4, where LMPC car of Chris Cumming was tipped into the wall by the second Extreme Speed HPD of Ed Brown.
CORVETTE WINS SPECTACULAR GT TUSSLE
The race then finally burst into action, especially in the GT category where the BMWs and Corvettes were staging a great fight. Tommy Milner had worked his way around Maxime Martin’s Z4 and Jan Magnussen had done the same. But the Belgian had sustained damage to the rear of his RLL entry along the way, and finally the flailing bumper fell off causing yet another full-course caution.
The restart proved crucial. On cold tires Extreme Speed Motorsport’s Scott Sharp misjudged the chicane and whacked the tyres. This forced the following Dirk Muller to lift off and allowed both Corvettes to pounce, with Magnussen taking full advantage to get team-mate Milner in the process.
The LMP2 cars were in the wars throughout, and by dint of having fewer issues victory fell to Marino Franchitti and Guy Cosmo for Level 5 Motorsport.
The same could be said for LMPC, where Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett lost an easy win when they were forced to make a late stop as the latter had not done enough laps. This set up a great fight between Dane Cameron and Tristan Nunez, which was settled when Cameron’s suspension broke with less than 90 seconds to go.
There was a terrific late duel for GTC honors. Dion von Moltke had a clear lead, but Jeroen Bleekemolen, Jan Heylen, Andy Lally and Sean Edwards waged an epic war for second.
This Grand Prix of Baltimore airs on ABC Sunday beginning 1t 12: p.m. Eastern.
1. (1) Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr (6-P1), HPD ARX-03c, 41 laps
2. (2) Chris Dyson/Guy Smith (16-P1), Lola B12-60 Mazda, 41
3. (7) Guy Cosmo/Marino Franchitti/Scott Tucker (552-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 41
4. (5) Scott Sharp/Anthony Lazzaro (01-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 41
5. (15) Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen (3-GT), Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, 41
6. (13) Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner (4-GT), Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, 41
7. (12) Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller (56-GT), BMW Z4 GTE, 41
8. (11) Bill Auberlen/Maxime Martin (55-GT), BMW Z4 GTE, 41
9. (17) Marc Goossens/Dominik Farnbacher (91-GT), SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V-10, 41
10. (22) Charlie Shears/Tristan Nunez (18-PC), ORECA FLM09, 41
11. (20) Kuno Wittmer/Jonathan Bomarito (93-GT), SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V-10, 41
12. (9) Jonathan Bennett/Colin Braun (05-PC), ORECA FLM09, 40
13. (30) Seth Neiman/Dion von Moltke (44-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
14. (23) Cooper MacNeil/Jeroen Bleekemolen (22-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
15. (29) Mike Hedlund/Jan Heylen (11-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
16. (31) Patrick Dempsey/Andy Lally (27-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
17. (25) Henrique Cisneros/Sean Edwards (30-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
18. (32) Marc Bunting/Norbert Siedler (67-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 39
19. (6) Mike Guasch/Dane Cameron (52-PC), ORECA FLM09, 38
20. (21) Bill Sweedler/Townsend Bell (23-GT), Ferrari F458 Italia, 38
21. (24) Nelson Canache Jr./Spencer Pumpelly (45-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 36
22. (10) Alex Popow/Bruno Junqueira (9-PC), ORECA FLM09, 27
23. (28) Al Carter/Kevin Estre (68-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 26
24. (4) Ed Brown/Johannes van Overbeek (02-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 15
25. (26) Ben Keating/Damien Faulkner (66-GTC), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 14
26. (8) Chris Cumming/Kyle Marcelli (8-PC), ORECA FLM09, 3
27. (14) Tom Kimber-Smith/Patrick Long (06-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 0
28. (16) Wolf Henzler/Bryan Sellers (17-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 0
29. (19) Bryce Miller/Marco Holzer (48-GT), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 0
30. (3) Scott Tucker/Ryan Briscoe (551-P2), HPD ARX-03b, 0
31. (18) Olivier Beretta/Matteo Malucelli (62-GT), Ferrari F458 Italia, 0