Right from the start of the American Le Mans Series Baltimore race, it was completely insane; I’ve never been in anything like that before! Both Tommy Milner (my Corvette Racing teammate) and I were hugely thankful to not only make it through to the finish, but to finish second place which is good enough to keep us in the lead of the GT Drivers’ championship.
You see a wreck like that at the start, and you think it’s going to be nasty. Cars start bouncing around and ricocheting everywhere and, on a street race like Baltimore or Long Beach, there is nowhere for anyone to go.
I was on the left of the grid, second in the GT category, just after the infamous Baltimore train tracks which were a big problem all weekend the launch you get off them is way bigger on the right side of the track than the left.
The ESM and Level 5 cars got into each other two or three rows in front of me and I immediately got off the throttle as the Level 5 car went into the wall. I thought for sure he was going to bounce back across the track and luckily I managed to miss him. He took numerous other cars in our class out including all three Porsches and the Risi Ferrari, and there was chaos behind me.
We sat there for over 45 minutes waiting for them to clear up the mess and restart the race but then there was the added complication of the city-regulated 6:00 p.m. racing curfew, so the event went from being 2 hours to 1h15m. I think I only had about three racing laps in the car before handing over to Tommy so it wasn’t the longest day I’ve had, but it was certainly one of the weirdest.
At the second restart I got past the leading BMW into T1 but there was another huge mess with several other GTs and prototypes backed up into each other. The ESM P2 car tried to go inside an LMPC and never even got close to the move, turning it around and blocking the track. I was right behind the ESM, a Viper ran into back of me, Antonio into him and it was another huge concertina of chaos fortunately it was at slow speed so we could all continue once the safety car came out.
As soon as the pit lane opened, we came into the pits and got out in front of our teammates in the No. 3 Chevy Corvette. Any planned strategy for this race had all long gone out the window by this stage and it was difficult for everyone as you had no opportunity to plan anything, you had to do it all on the fly.
It wasn’t the end to the madness, but Tommy got past Dirk Muller’s BMW and then Jan Magnussen managed to surprise him on the front strait and dived up inside him to get the lead. Fair play to Jan as it was a good move, close and clean. We thought we had another couple of chances to try and get the lead back but couldn’t make it stick, and in the end we were happy with second.
It’s pretty amazing that considering at one point (after the restart) we were sitting in a wreck at Turn 4 both cars we somehow managed to pull a 1-2 out of it! We’re still leading the GT Manufacturers and Drivers championship, now just two points in front of the No. 3 car and in a much healthier position in the ManufacturersBMW is running out of races to challenge us now.
Baltimore was one of those wacky races that you couldn’t take your eyes off, but I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to a somewhat calmer race at Circuit of The Americas in a couple of weeks. See you there!