The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron heads to the streets of Baltimore for its eighth of 10 races this season, the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT. A few things to watch:
GT WIDE OPEN – The sample size of street races isn't huge for the ALMS, but the last four (Long Beach 2010 through this year, Baltimore last year) have seen four different winners. Flying Lizard Porsche took the 2010 win at Long Beach, while BMW scored the win there last year and Corvette took it this year.
Meanwhile, Team Falken Tire enters Baltimore as the defending race champions, albeit with a repaired car after a herculean effort by its crew to fix it following an accident at Road America's kink last race.
Excluding those four, Extreme Speed's Ferrari could have the power and downforce mix made just right to be quick as well this race.
The two Corvettes are 1-2 in the standings, with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin 18 points clear of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. Dirk Mueller is third and 24 back in the BMW Team RLL No. 56 M3, rejoined by usual co-driver Joey Hand this race after Jonathan Summerton filled in for DTM-bound Hand at Road America.
BIG RACE FOR SRT – SRT stepped up as a last-minute presenting sponsor of the weekend and will race on the streets of Baltimore after it didn't appear in its original plans. For this race, the team has been given a 20kg weight break and a 1.4mm air restrictor increase to aid its chances per the latest IMSA Balance of Performance adjustment.
The two SRT Vipers in the hands of Kuno Wittmer/Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens/Tommy Kendall are still looking mainly to get more laps in the Riley-built chassis, but perhaps sneak a result if contact rules the day and takes out some of the faster cars ahead of them.
DYSON SEEKS DEFENSE, MUSCLE MILK SEEKS REBOUND – With the expression “it only takes two cars to make a race,” consider Muscle Milk disappointed with second place by a record-low 0.083 of a second last time out at Road America. This race last year, all kinds of issues popped up on its Lola-Aston Martin, with a wiring loom change required even to make the start. Romain Dumas was a weekend substitute for Lucas Luhr, and wound up taking his first laps ever in the car right at the green flag!
With the HPD ARX-03a, the car did very well at Long Beach to score its first win of the season. Dyson's back within range though, Guy Smith and Chris Dyson having finally scored their first overall win of 2012 last time out. Dyson himself celebrates his 100th ALMS start this weekend, joining a long list of drivers to do so this year. The race's 2011 overall winners – Steven Kane and Humaid Al Masaood – are not back, with the older chassis left to Eric Lux and Michael Marsal once again.
P2 THE CLOSEST TITLE BATTLE – With their second win of the year at Road America, Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson closed the gap to Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut down to five points in the P2 class standings. Dempsey Racing won't make the trip to Baltimore and the entry list has the Conquest Morgan Nissan and the two Level 5 HPDs – Tucker and Luis Diaz in the second – set to make up the numbers.
CHALLENGE TITLES ALL BUT CLINCHED – CORE autosport wrapped the PC class team title at Road America although the driver's title is still to be decided between Alex Popow or the Jon Bennett/Colin Braun car. Popow, who's alternated between Ryan Dalziel (back this race) and Tom Kimber-Smith as co-drivers, holds a 12-point lead.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports will miss the race after an accident at Road America damaged its second chassis beyond repair in time, although Performance Tech Motorsports has appeared on the entry list once again. The team has entered but withdrawn from several races this year and currently lists Rafa Matos and Indy Lights team owner and partial season driver Rodin Younessi as drivers.
Cooper MacNeil's points lead in GTC is some 31 markers ahead of Green Hornet's Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre. MacNeil earned his second win of the year at Road America thanks to guest co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen.
P1 (three) P2 (three) and GT(13) make up 19 cars, with the Challlenge classes of PC (seven) and GTC (five, with two TRG entries including the second for Al Carter and Patrick Pilet) set to comprise the balance of the 31-car field.
The American Le Mans Series at Baltimore airs live online on ESPN3.com's live stream Saturday at 4:15 p.m. Eastern, with the TV broadcast Sunday on ABC at noon Eastern.