Kane and Masaood win Baltimore ALMS race
Starting from the pole, Chris Dyson led the field through Turn 1 in the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda he shared with Guy Smith. By lap three, Dyson had put three seconds on then second-place Al Masaood and continued to pull away. It wasn`t until the first set of pit stops that the No. 16`s lead came to an end. Unable to restart the car on the first attempt, the Dyson squad lost valuable time in the pit lane, approximately 28 seconds, compared to the No. 20 Lola-Mazda, which took over the lead on lap 40, near the 45-minute mark.
"Chris had the first stint in front of me; there was some traffic, and then we had the pit stop," recalled Al Masaood. "Steven got away quickly as we changed drivers. Then we came out in front. We had to drive smart to keep the win. Driving smart is definitely a challenge, and it`s easy to make a mistake at the start of a race like this. Especially with cold tires, it`s easy to go off and be in the wall. You have to be very precise, take a little off and make good decisions. You really have no room for error."
"I want to start off thanking everyone in Baltimore for putting on such a great race," Kane said. "The crowd was great. To me it looks like a great success already. It might be because we won, but this might be my favorite race so far. It was great to come into this series, and in only five circuits - new ones - to win a race. This is the first street race for my co-driver, and it shows how much talent he really has and is a testament to his ability driving this car. I`m not surprised [Al Masaood] won so early. We met at the 24 Hours of Dubai and I knew he had something special. I`ve been teaching guys for 12 years so I can spot someone who is really talented, and I told him early on; he has it and can go a long way."
Kane and Al Masaood also collected their first MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge win. Their car had a faster average speed and better energy consumption throughout.
A second-place finish for Dyson and Smith made it a Lola-Mazda one-two finish at Baltimore. Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry finished the Autocon Lola-AER in third.
Dyson Racing`s main championship rival Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing finished fourth in class.
While the first lap was surprisingly uneventful for the LMP field, the GT category experienced a bit of pandemonium in Turn 1 when the two Corvettes driven by Jan Magnussen and Olivier Beretta made contact causing a traffic jam for the GT field. The largest benefactor of the incident was the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Henzler, who sliced between the two Corvettes, going from fifth to second.
"It was an amazing start," Henzler said. "I was a bit scared. I knew once we arrived in turn one we`d have such a great speed in a tight turn. Once everyone braked, I saw there was a bit of a spot on the right. I dived in, overtook a few cars. There were two Corvettes on the side; he spun around on the side, and I t-boned him. He slid to the side, and our Porsche did not see any damage. Then I could drive and keep trying to push the car as much as I could."
A second full-course caution and round of pit stops with 50 minutes to go cycled Team Falken Tire and driver Sellers to third in the GT order behind Tommy Milner`s No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette and the No. 55 BMW M3 of Bill Auberlen. On the restart, an ambitious move by Milner caused the BMW to spin in Turn 1, while the Corvette proceeded through the run-off area. This left just enough room for Sellers to sneak through and into the lead. It was clean sailing for Sellers from there, who took the second win for Team Falken Tire by a lap - highly uncharacteristic of this year`s GT field.
"I hope everyone notes how unbelievable this race was with the fans," Sellers said of the capacity crowds. "It was a crazy atmosphere to be up there with the crowds and the sounds.
"At the beginning of the weekend we didn`t really know what kind of package we`d have. It was the first time we`d be at this track. It was a very smooth asphalt and concrete. To be honest we didn`t know we`d have a compound soft enough. The tire turned out to be fantastic. Wolf at the beginning was able to run quicker than anybody. He was able to get away from the BMW. Then at the beginning we could run the same lap times as anyone without the drop off. It`s great to be able to involve all of our sponsors today, a win in tires for Falken and a win in the Green X Challenge with Porsche being the most efficient engine manufacturer."
As noted by Sellers, Team Falken Tire and the No. 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR earned their first MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge win and the first for Porsche in 2011. Like the Oryx Dyson Racing entry, the Porsche had the fastest average speed and was much more efficient throughout.
Hand and teammate Dirk Mueller finished second for BMW, followed by the Corvette of Magnussen and Olivier Gavin.
The LMPC race started with a shock for point leaders CORE autosport and Ricardo Gonzalez as their No. 06 ORECA FLM09 slowed to a crawl just 15 laps into the race. The team brought the car in for a lengthy pit stop to fix electronic gremlins, dropping Gonzalez and co-driver Gunnar Jeannette well down the order. The duo eventually recovered for a fourth-place finish.
CORE`s misfortune was Intersport Racing`s gain, as Kyle Marcelli and Tomy Drissi navigated the streets of Baltimore with ease. The pair, who were winners in round five at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, ran unchallenged for their second win of the season.
"The track was really, really difficult. With the risk you take for a second here, tenth there, another tenth there, you have to keep your ego in check," Drissi said of the 2.1-mile street circuit along Baltimore`s Inner Harbor. "I got it down to race pace during my stint after settling in. So then it was about delivering a good car to Kyle to let him drive it in."
"I think going into a temporary circuit on a weekend like this, you have to come in with a well-prepared car," Marcelli said. "We unloaded off the trailer with a baseline. We sat in the board room and picked what we wanted to do. I knew my job was to bring the car home and maintain the lead that I knew Tommy would bring me…. I kept my nose clean and did what I could to get by trying to be as clean and lean as possible. Our pace was really close for overall finish, but we had our own issues getting out of the pits, it took me three times to get the starter working, otherwise we might have been able to get out in front of the Dysons."
Crossing the line in second was Genoa Racing with drivers Eric Lux and Elton Julian, while CORE autosport`s sister car of Jon Bennett and Frankie Montecalvo finished third.
Scoring the GTC pole in Friday`s qualifying, Jeroen Bleekemolen may have brought the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup home safely for the team`s fourth win of the season, but it was quick thinking on the part of co-driver and team owner Tim Pappas that put the team in position for the win.
"The Turn 1 carnage was sort of predicted-the turn is very tight," Pappas said. "I think everyone expected it to be crazy. I was a little bit back and I was holding off to see what would happen. I got a little lucky; I saw a little hole on the outside and I went through, and just as I got through, it closed behind me and everything came to a stop."
Bleekemolen, who became an Internet sensation after placing his own tire in the passenger side of the car and driving back to pit lane in qualifying, also offered credit to his co-driver for the win.
"The race was not as exciting for me really, everything was set up by Tim," Bleekemolen said. "I got to keep the pace up and keep the risks down. It was such a good day to have a car like we had."
The real GTC battle on track was for second and third between Alex Job Racing and Magnus Racing. At the line it was Keen in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup he shares with Bill Sweedler, by 0.301 seconds over Craig Stanton who teams with John Potter.
The Baltimore Grand Prix will air on ABC at 4:00 PM (ET), 2:00 PM (PT) on Sunday, Sept. 4, and will be available on americanlemans.com for on-demand viewing afterward.
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n will make a cross country trip to California for round eight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The ModSpace American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patr¢n will go green Sept. 16 at 1:30 PM (PT). The race will air on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 17 and be carried live on ESPN3 beginning at 12:50 PM.
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