Third-to-first move propels Magnussen, Garcia to GT victory
Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr combined to clinch their second consecutive American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón P1 championship with a victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, their sixth consecutive victory from the 2013 season.
The race was shortened to one hour, 13 minutes after a multi-car incident completely blocked the front straight of the Inner Harbor street circuit seconds after the initial waving of the green flag. It was the shortest race in ALMS history, with Graf and Luhr leading four times for 17 of the 41 laps in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c. The race featured eight lead changes among five different cars representing three classes.
Luhr took the lead for good by passing Guy Smith in the Turn 3 hairpin with 13 minutes remaining and then beat Smith to the checkered flag by 3.867 seconds. Smith led briefly down the stretch in the No. 16 Mazda/Thetford/Norcold Lola B12/60 started by Chris Dyson.
“We’ve struggled here in the past, but today was our day to win the race and win the championship,” Luhr said after extending his ALMS-leading victory total to 48 with three races remaining this season.
Jan Magnussen made a third-to-first move to take the GT lead shortly after the final restart, and held off teammate Tommy Milner by .457 seconds in a 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing. Magnussen and Antonio Garcia won their second race of the season in the No. 3 Compuware ZR1, over the No. 4 entry of Milner and Oliver Gavin. Dirk Mueller was leading on the restart following the third caution in the No. 55 Team RLL Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE, with Magnussen passing both Milner and Mueller to take the lead.
Marino Franchitti took his fourth P2 victory of the season in the No. 552 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b, joined by new Level 5 Motorsports teammate Guy Cosmo. The victory gave Franchitti the lead in the PC class championship standings.
Tristan Nunez went from third to first in the closing minutes to win in Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire (PC) in the No. 18 VisitFlorida.com/Ric Man/Signature ORECA FLM09. Colin Braun dominated the class in the No. 05 CORE autosport ORECA started by Jonathan Bennett before pitting with seven minutes remaining. That gave the lead to Dane Cameron, co-driver with Mike Guasch in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Molecule ORECA. Cameron broke with two laps remaining, giving the lead and victory to Nunez.
In GTC, Dion von Moltke and Seth Neiman led most of the way in the No. 44 PR Newswire/eSilicon Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Second, only .843 seconds behind, was Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche started by Cooper MacNeil.
A multi-car incident at the start eliminated five cars and brought out an immediate red flag. Scott Tucker, starting third in the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b, was hit from behind by Anthony Lazzaro’s No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b entering the front straight moments after the start.
Tucker spun, while Tom Kimber-Smith – attempting to slow down in the No. 06 CORE autosport Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 – was tagged from behind by Wolf Henzler in the two-time winning No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, triggering a chain reaction that also collected Olivier Beretta in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia, Bryce Miller in the No. 48 Chopard Watches/Total Lubricants/Motegi Racing Wheels Porsche and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra SRT Viper, blocking the track. Only Wittmer was able to continue.
The next ALMS event will be at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Sept. 21. Visit ALMS.com for current and future event information including tickets and area accommodations. Follow the ALMS on Twitter (#ALMS, #MontereyALMS), Facebook and the official YouTube channel.
BALTIMORE – Results from Saturday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore with overall finishing position, starting position (in parentheses), drivers, car number-class (in parentheses), type of car and laps completed.
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
Drivers Battle Heat, Hairpin in Streets of Baltimore
Snow Extends Platinum Points Lead with Race One Victory
Intense heat was half the battle in Race One of the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT today- the other half was maneuvering the challenging twists of the 2.1-mile, 12-turn street circuit. The temperature was hot as the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series made its debut, but the racing was blazing.
Competitors found trouble early on, as three of the top four drivers on the starting grid were put on the hot seat before the 10 minute mark. A full course caution came out eight minutes into the sprint in order to recover the No. 30 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Angel Benitez Sr. from the Turn 3 run-off, bringing the field back together before going green five minutes later.
Immediately following the restart, pole sitter Sloan Urry spun in The Hairpin, sliding him to the back of the pack for the remainder of the race.
Starting in fourth position was Thompson Racing’s Colin Thompson, who had a mechanical issue at the start and was forced to retire before completing one lap. NGT Motorsport driver Angel Benitez Jr. also faced mechanical issues and retired to the paddock on Lap 9 of competition.
That left series points leader Madison Snow to extend his points lead for the championship in the series’ first competition on a true street circuit. Snow took the lead in his No. 62 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car after Urry’s mishap on Lap 8, and led to the checkers. With the victory, the Lehi, Utah-native secured his fifth win of the season and a 29-point lead in the individual Platinum Cup standings.
“It was a great race,” Snow said. “It was really hard, really hot in the car, and abusive on the body. I was chasing down Sloan (Urry) for awhile. On the restart going into The Hairpin, Sloan spun right in front of me and that made me kind of happy because I knew I had less competition. What happened to Sloan was unfortunate for him but it definitely made it a lot easier on me. And then I did everything I could to pull away.”
Turning his fastest time on his fourth trip around the street circuit, Snow established a new race lap record of 1:36.257. The Snow Racing / Wright Motorsports car will be put to the test in Race Two – starting from 10th position after losing his fastest qualifying lap due to causing a red flag during the session.
Under new ownership since June, TruSpeed Autosport is making a run for the championship with 23-year-old Brett Sandberg coming into his own in the final stretch of the season. The team also brought on Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin points leader David Ostella for the Labor Day weekend. Teammates Sandberg and Ostella pushed each other from Lap 3 to the final lap of the 45-minute sprint. As the two made their way around the 2.1-mile, 12-turn circuit, Ostella pressured Sandberg for second place once Snow pulled away from the field.
The clean battle between teammates intensified even after the white flag waved. Entering the braking zone for Turn 1, both drivers locked up their wheels, allowing Ostella the chance to set up a pass, which he would complete in Turn 2. Entering Turn 3, Sandberg got into the back of Ostella and spun on the exit, dropping back to fifth. Although Sandberg did not land on podium, his impressive performance included jumping from eighth position to third overall on the first lap.
“Brett (Sandberg), my teammate, got a wicked start, got up in front of me and I was just following him around,” Ostella said. “I was just being patient and hoping we would catch Madison (Snow) but he just pulled away. Brett and I had a nice battle, it was clean, it was awesome. I think (Brett) ended up tapping me in Turn 3, and that is unfortunate for him. I feel bad because I’m just here to have fun and he’s kind of in the points so I feel bad for him, but other than that the car was amazing.
David Williams (37) and Mark Llano enter The Hairpin at the Grand Prix of Baltimore
TruSpeed did an awesome job. The car was smooth the whole way. I have to thank all my sponsors and Phil. Phil Fogg is not here and I have to thank him for letting me take his seat. I know how it is to get the sponsors out there and I’m glad to be able to drive his car and show what it can do and I’m just happy for everybody. The Porsche GT3 car was phenomenal today. I struggled on the Yokohama tires in the past and this weekend it was phenomenal. They were consistent the whole way through and I’m just happy with the car and hopefully we can repeat or do better tomorrow.”
While Urry’s spin made life easier for Snow, it made EFFORT Racing’s Michael Mills’ job that much harder. After Mills saw his teammate spin, he knew it was up to him to land on the podium and rack up team points.
“We got that restart and it was really disappointing to see Sloan (Urry) have that spin,” Mills expressed. “I felt really bad for the kid. I had to stay in it for EFFORT and try to get as many points for the team as I could. I knew Angel (Benitez Jr.) was right there, but he had a mechanical issue and then it was just me and Craig (Duerson) as (David) Ostella and (Brett) Sandberg ran off. It ended up being a great race for us, other than Sloan. I ended up on the podium and ahead of Sandberg in points and ahead of NGT in team points, so we accomplished the goal for the first race. It was hectic but we ended up getting it done.”
Entering Round 12, EFFORT Racing leads the Platinum Cup team standings with 188 total points, followed by NGT Motorsport with 182 and Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports at 181.
In the Gold Cup category, Baltimore-based TPC Racing continued its dominance today. Michael Levitas took the top step of the podium for his sixth win of the 2013 season. Another usual fast suspect, TPC teammate David Williams was right on the heels of Levitas and finished in second place. Williams was thrilled to race in front of his home town crowd after 25 years as a Maryland native.
In his bright red shoes, Danny Gianfrancesco took the third step of the podium for his fourth podium finish of the year.
Levitas and Williams were also the top two Gold Masters finishers in Race One. Another TPC Racing teammate received an award following Race One as Ben Keating was named the Yokohama Hard Charger. He jumped from the 16th starting position to finish seventh overall for an unbelievable performance on the Streets of Baltimore.
The green flag drops for Race Two tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. ET. For live race results, follow @GT3Challenge on Twitter. To find photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page. Full entry lists, spotter guides and event information can be found by visiting the series website.
Michael Levitas: First Place Gold Cup
“My Porsche of Towson 36 car was just amazing. It was so hooked up. It was so dialed in. It was hot between the concrete. I had to short shift every gear but I can’t say enough about the Porsche of Towson and TPC guys. My teammate David Williams of Merkle did an amazing job. He pushed me hard. We were lap for lap.”
David Williams: Second Place Gold Cup
“It was awesome. I love the facility. I love street racing. It’s the first one I’ve ever done and I would love to do more of it. It’s great to be in my home town too. My company Merkle is located here. I’ve lived here for 25 years and just these kind of crowds and the energy and excitement is fantastic. Technical course, high speed, fantastic.”
The Master Championship
As temperatures rose at the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, the competition for a Master champion heated up as well. Craig Duerson of NGT Motorsport took the checkers, but Wright Motorsports driver Kasey Kuhlman remains in the points lead. Duerson battled it out with Mills and Kuhlman throughout the race, and although they finished with one driver between them, both were neck-and-neck for the majority of the race. With 11 minutes remaining, only eight tenths separated Kuhlman and Duerson for first position in Masters.
“It was a great race,” Duerson said. “I have to hand it to Baltimore, the city, huge crowd. IMSA put on a great event. The huge fan base today was incredible. You could see them in the bleachers. I had a solid run with Michael Mills. I just tried to survive. At 49 it’s hard.”
Entering Round 12, Kuhlman still leads the Master Platinum Cup points standings with 191 total, compared to Duerson’s 183 points. Kuhlman was even more pleased with his sixth place overall finish, than with his second place Master spot.
“The conditions were brutal today,” Kuhlman said. “It was so hot that toward the end of the race it was more about survival for me, just not to make a mistake and stay on track because the heat was overcoming me and I was able to accomplish that and stay in the hunt for the Masters. I’d had experience racing in the heat before so I put to use what I had learned in the past and it’s all about pace and being realistic about what you can accomplish.”
With a third place finish, Patrick Otto-Madsen of Ansa Motorsports moves up from fourth to third place in the standings, tallying 115 points.
“Today’s race was extremely tough,” Otto-Madsen said. “It was physical and I was struggling out there to keep going, and the street course in Baltimore is extremely challenging. It was brutally hot today and I was just trying to bring the car home as I saw a lot of cars falling out. It was about staying alive and bringing the car back in one piece.”