Luhr Gives Muscle Milk Baltimore Pole Position
Luhr and Klaus Graf saw their five-race win streak end in the last ALMS round at Road America. The P1 championship leaders are eager to get back on the right foot.
â€śIt is really good for us â€“ the series, the drivers,â€ť said Luhr, who is racing in Baltimore for the first time. â€śI like racing on city circuits, and I think this is the best city course I have driven. It is very nice. But there are a lot of bumps. It was almost like the car didn't like me and it was trying to throw me out. We will massage the car a little bit tonight and see what she has in the morning.â€ť
In the afternoon practice and qualifying, teams faced the addition of a temporary chicane exiting the final corner meant to reduce the speeds over a particularly bumpy section of the frontstretch. Luhr was one of the quickest learners as he went 0.740 seconds faster than Dyson Racingâ€™s Guy Smith and the No. 16 Lola-Mazda.
Smith and Dyson beat Muscle Milk at Road America and are the main challengers in the P1 title race after winning the 2011 championship.
â€śI think we are going to see a tough race tomorrow. With the heat (which is expected to reach the mid-90s), it won't make it any easier,â€ť Luhr said. â€śIt will be important to get a good start, but you're never going to win a race in the first corner. Passing will be difficult because the track is not very wide, and the GT cars are very quick. You can't just cut through the field; you have to work together, there will need to be give and take.â€ť
Eric Lux qualified Dyson Racingâ€™s second Lola-Mazda third in class at 1:26.830 (84.579 mph).
Jan Magnussen qualified third in class in the No. 3 Corvette, just 0.468 seconds off Gavinâ€™s pace.
â€śWe had to run with a bent exhaust for qualifying. So Jan wants that setup on his car for the race tomorrow,â€ť Gavin quipped. â€śThe Corvette is pretty strong, so I wasn't concerned about structural and suspension damage. And the motor was running fine, so it didn't seem to be a problem.â€ť
Gavin and Tommy Milner enter with the class championship lead, Corvette Racing leads BMW Team RLL in the team standings, and Chevrolet has the edge on BMW for the manufacturer crown. Naturally the goal for this weekend â€“ more than any other â€“ is for drivers to keep their cars off the walls and out of the tires. That goes double for any championship contenders.
â€śWin it; thatâ€™s the best way to go about the championship race,â€ť he said. â€śYou need a lot of luck on any street circuit. Everyone is racing out there, but they are racing against the circuit. They're trying to keep it on the ground too; (the track is) so bumpy and so aggressive. You have to not have any incidents with anyone.â€ť
â€śWe changed a lot of things on the setup just before qualifying so I didnâ€™t know exactly how it was going to be,â€ť said Bouchut, who leads the P2 championship with Tucker by just five points over Plowman and David Heinemeier-Hansson.
Luis Diaz qualified Level 5â€™s No. 95 car third in class at 1:28.453 (83.027 mph).
â€śWe are very close in the fight,â€ť Bouchut said of the battle between Level 5 and Conquest. â€śThe competition is so very close. Everyone in our class does so well, we always have to be on the limit. The difference was a tenth; on this track that is almost nothing.â€ť
Level 5 didnâ€™t race last year at Baltimore, and Ricardo Gonzalez (Diazâ€™s teammate) competed here last year. The team has had to learn a lot in a short period of time.
â€śThe track is really interesting,â€ť Bouchut said. â€śIt is very hard, one of the hardest in my whole career. The straight line is the worst part; the other places are very good and challenging. When you are alone, it is already dangerous. If you put all of the other cars around it can be very tricky.â€ť
â€śJunkyâ€ť also is running in the IndyCar Series race at Baltimore. In ALMS qualifying, he outpaced CORE autosportâ€™s Ryan Dalziel by 0.077 seconds and Colin Braun by 0.330 seconds. The top five cars were within 0.814 seconds.
â€śIâ€™m in cars a lot,â€ť Junqueira said. â€śYou have to completely change your mind-set when you are moving between the two cars. They are very differentâ€¦ night and day.â€ť
RSRâ€™s starting position is in limbo, however. Junqueira appeared to break the rear suspension coming out of the temporary chicane when the left-rear of the ORECA slapped the outside concrete wall. Even with the hit and the broken car, he still went fast enough to knock Dalziel off pole position. Even more impressive is that Junqueira started his final lap with a bent steering wheel after he brushed another wall.
â€śI gave it everything I could,â€ť he admitted. â€śThe car was dragging and I knew I had to keep going. I was lucky to finish the lap and keep it on pole.â€ť
Damien Faulkner took his fourth GT Challenge pole position of the season for Green Hornet Racing in the No. 34 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The Irishman turned a lap of 1:1:35.493 (76.906 mph) in a topsy-turvy affair that saw four cars take turns with the fastest time of the session.
Faulkner was 0.624 seconds clear of Alex Job Racingâ€™s Leh Keen and another 0.295 seconds better than JDX Racingâ€™s Michael Valiante. Faulkner admitted he surprised himself with the pole position given the scarce time he had on track during Fridayâ€™s practice sessions.
â€śI think I had one lap with the new chicane before qualifying,â€ť said Faulkner, who drives with Peter LeSaffre. â€śIt was nerve racking; we had less than 15 laps all together this weekend. The Green Hornet team put together a great car out of the box. We haven't touched it since it came off the truck.â€ť
Keenâ€™s teammate Cooper MacNeil leads the class driverâ€™s championship over Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre. AJR is ahead of TRG and Green Hornet in the team championship. Faulkner knows that time is short if he and LeSaffre want to make a move. MacNeil and AJR hold the largest championship leads of all the five classes â€“ with the exception of COREâ€™s championship clinch in PC.
â€śWe can't seem to collect the points on Saturday,â€ť Faulkner said. â€śSo we need to keep clean tomorrow and hopefully it can come back to us and get the payday. The biggest challenge is the bumps. You're just trying to hold on to the cars for all youâ€™re worth. We run the highest ride height of all the classes, so we're riding around a bit like a bus.â€ť
The Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT, the eighth round of the ALMS championship, is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 1 on the temporary street circuit in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. ABC's broadcast begins at noon ET on Sunday, Sept. 2. Full, live coverage starts at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
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