With Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing sidelined, Dyson Racing sent their two cars out to battle for the pole position for Saturday's American Le Mans Series race on the streets of Baltimore.
Although Dyson was essentially ensured the pole with Muscle Milk AMR sidelined with niggling electrical wiring issues, only a tenth of a second separated Guy Smith from Steven Kane around the 2.1-mile, 12-turn circuit. It's Smith's third pole of the season and the fourth for Dyson in seven races. The Muscle Milk AMR entry starts from the rear of the field with Klaus Graf and Romain Dumas.
"It's bumpy and its demanding, but that's what street courses are all about," Smith said. "We are sad to see Muscle Milk couldn't take part and fight with those guys. I have an up and coming teammate who is always pushing us to keep going. I also have the Governor over here who is pushing me and telling me to keep it off the wall and put it on the pole. Getting through the traffic tomorrow will be painful. You've got to be able to get through it tomorrow."
Even closer was the battle in LMP Challenge, where Gunnar Jeannette held off Kyle Marcelli by all of 0.066sec. Jeannette secures his third pole of the season.
"It has to be the tightest field we've ever had in a ALMS field, I think there are only a few seconds between top of LMPCs to the top of GTs and GTCs," Jeannette said. "The moment you hit the back of the pack with the GTs and the GTCs, thinking about the championship goes right out the window.”
BMW swept to its sixth consecutive GT class pole, although the first in that stretch for the No. 55 entry with Dirk Werner behind the wheel. It ends a streak of five straight from the No. 56 in the hands of both Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. Jan Magnussen swept to second in the No. 4 Corvette ahead of Patrick Long in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche.
"We have not had a lot of time to run around this new circuit, so it shows how great our team is and finding the settings for the street circuit," Werner said.
Long's session was not without incident. Shortly thereafter the tight turn 5 chicane complex, Long contracted Jaime Melo in the Risi Ferrari in the right rear quarter panel. Melo limped around but did not make it back to the pits; repairs are forthcoming.
It was an eventful session in GTC, too, where Jeroen Bleekemolen lost his left-front tire and wheel shortly after his out lap. Bleekemolen then picked it up, put in his passenger's seat and drove around to the pit lane.
Despite the interruption, Bleekemolen still captured his second pole of the season in the Black Swan Racing Porsche, and has the added bonus of his co-driver Tim Pappas's chief championship rival, TRG, starting from the rear of the field after Duncan Ende had had contact in the first practice. Ende and Spencer Pumpelly are 11 points in arrears of Pappas.
"After last race at Road America, I thought the most traumatic event was passing 2 cars in 1 corner then getting a puncture," Bleekemolen said. "But we were fast this morning, and after the short second session. So I thought we'd have a nice uneventful qualifying. But I told the guys I think we have a puncture and thought we'd be done for the day. The guys said, no it's just loose, bring it back slowly. Then as I was going through the tires to take the shortcut and it came off. I knew at Le Mans you can get out in a safe location and retrieve parts. So I parked it, jumped out. Then I put the tire in the passenger door and drove it back. We were able to get it back on without damage, and I went back out and set my fast time. But I later dropped it a few tenths but it was still a good lap.”
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
01. P1 Dyson/Smith Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m27.750s
02. P1 Al Masaood/Kane Dyson Lola-Mazda 1m27.896s
03. PC Jeannette/Gonzalez CORE FLM 1m29.407s
04. PC Nicolosi/Boon/Marcelli Performance Tech FLM 1m29.473s
05. PC Lux/Zugel/Julian Genoa FLM 1m30.407s
06. GT Auberlen/Werner BMW 1m31.362s
07. GT Gavin/Magnussen Corvette 1m31.950s
08. GT Bergmeister/Long Flying Lizard Porsche 1m31.992s
09. GT Muller/Hand BMW 1m32.010s
10. GT Beretta/Milner Corvette 1m32.224s
11. P1 Burgess/McMurry/Lewis Autocon Lola-AER 1m32.587s
12. GT Melo/Vilander Risi Ferrari 1m32.699s
13. GT Henzler/Sellers Falken Porsche 1m32.772s
14. PC Bennett/Montecalvo CORE FLM 1m32.983s
15. PC Dobson/Lewis PR1 Mathiasen FLM 1m33.051s
16. GT Law/Neiman Flying Lizard Porsche 1m33.964s
17. GT Sharp/van Overbeek Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m34.151s
18. GT Junqueira/Wilden RSR Jaguar 1m34.360s
19. GT Miller/Maassen Miller Porsche 1m34.609s
20. GT Jones/Moran RSR Jaguar 1m35.911s
21. PC Nicolosi/Boon Performance Tech 1m36.046s
22. GTC Pappas/Bleekemolen Black Swan Porsche 1m36.794s
23. GTC Keen/Sweedler Alex Job Porsche 1m37.160s
24. PC Marcelli/Ducote/Ducote Intersport FLM 1m37.569s
25. GTC Davis/LeSaffre Black Swan Porsche 1m37.917s
26. GT Brown/Cosmo Extreme Speed Ferrari 1m38.674s
27. GTC von Moltke/di Guida TRG Porsche 1m41.131s
28. GTC Potter/Stanton Magnus Racing Porsche 1m41.462s