Level 5 Motorsports captured the overall victory in an always intriguing, at times bizarre American Le Mans Series' Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT. Christophe Bouchut and team principal Scott Tucker led the team's 1-2 finish with its pair of HPD ARX-03bs, ahead of Luis Diaz and Ricardo Gonzalez in the sister car.
The win marks for the first overall in the team's history and first for a P2 car overall since 2008 at Detroit, when James Rossiter and Franck Montagny turned the trick at Detroit in a prior HPD spec – an Acura ARX-01b.
Tucker was complimentary of his class rivals Conquest Endurance, who endured a difficult race (see below) after Tucker expected the Morgan Nissan to have the measure of the HPDs on this circuit.
“Their car is just a better car for this track,” Tucker said. “We anticipated that. He was able to pass me going into 5, with the twin turbo we have a bit of lag. We anticipated that so we planned if that happened, take no chances and just be really steady with the car.
“This definitely a little insurance for us. We had a disappointing day at Road America, this is where the infrastructure of the team comes in to place. This is great for the team, we think we deserved it so this is a great day.”
The P1 winners were further back – Eric Lux and Michael Marsal scored a surprise P1 class win, 13th overall, in the older Dyson Racing Lola B11/66 Mazda coupe. Marsal recovered from being at the head of a first corner pileup with a storming drive through the field, although the car incurred a late penalty for too many crewmembers over the wall.
Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow won the PC class for team champions CORE autosport, thus adding to Popow's class points lead over teammates Colin Braun and Jon Bennett. Bruno Junqueira, pulling double duty this weekend, was second driving with Tomy Drissi at RSR, with Dempsey Racing on the podium in a repaired car and drivers Duncan Ende and Henri Richard.
Dalziel had a potential chance at the outright victory, having restarted second behind Diaz on the last stop, but once Bouchut was past the chance was gone.
“I maybe should have made it tougher for Bouchut to pass me, maybe we could have challenged for the overall win,” Dalziel admitted. The win is his second, and Popow's fourth, in PC this season.
Fourth overall and scoring its second GT win in as many years at Baltimore was the Team Falken Tire Porsche driven by Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers. A mostly dominant drive from the team saw a near start-to-finish romp as Henzler advanced through a first-corner melee from sixth into a podium position, only falling outside the top two spots in the lone pit stop cycle.
“Similar to last year it was a little tight in Turn 1,” Henzler explained “I took a better line today. I didn't know where to go, I saw a gap on the left and a gap on the right. Due to the accident in turn one, I saw cars going in the emergency exit so I pulled out to the right. I gained two positions during the start. I was fourth in class. When I was standing there I was worried I was going to get hit from behind. I was lucky enough nothing happened to my car and it was still in good shape after that.”
Corvette and Extreme Speed completed the podium (Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner, then Johannes van Overbeek/Scott Sharp) with the lead RLL BMW and Flying Lizard Porsche (No. 56 and 45) in the top five. SRT's No. 93 Viper, the only one that started, dropped from eighth to 12th after late race contact between its driver Marc Goossens and the second ESM Ferrari in the hands of Guy Cosmo, racing with a heavy heart this weekend following his grandmother passing.
Al Carter and Patrick Pilet took the GTC class win for TRG. Carter survived the first lap, first turn mess to score his first professional victory.
Several teams went through various rounds of problems. A stuck gearshift actuator knocked Muscle Milk Pickett Racing out of contention early, costing them 8 laps and dropping them to a third-place finish in class. Dyson's lead No. 16 Lola Mazda coupe had a similarly fraught race, Chris Dyson having to fend off a charging David Heinemeier Hansson in the Conquest Morgan Nissan at Turn 12 before “DHH” earned a questionable penalty for avoidable contact.
Further shifting issues, as the car had too short of gears, plagued Conquest's co-driver Martin Plowman later in the race. Plowman later stopped on track with a broken suspension, causing a caution. A third in class cost them eight points to the leading Level 5 drivers in the championship, dropping them unofficially from five to 13 points behind.
The second for Dyson and Guy Smith gained them three points on Muscle Milk's Klaus Graf and Guy Smith, now only nine back with two races to play. Corvette's Gavin and Milner extended its lead in GT, and Cooper MacNeil hasn't officially but is on the brink of wrapping the GTC class crown.
After a week off, the series heads to Virginia International Raceway Sept. 15 for a four-hour endurance round as the penultimate round of the championship.