Level 5 Motorsports’ two LMP2 HPD cars scored a 1-2 finish at the end of a chaotic American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Baltimore Sports Car Challenge race on the street track in the Maryland city.
The combination of Christophe Bouchut and team owner Scott Tucker in the #055 were victorious, Bouchut being gifted the lead late in the race by Luis Diaz in the team’s #095 once it became apparent that the team would clinch the top two places in the LMP2 class, if not in the overall standings.
Their finish in class came at the expense of the Conquest Endurance Morgan of Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson. With Heinemeier Hansson starting the car the orange and grey machine was one of the fastest during the race’s opening stint as he battled first to the P2 lead past Tucker, then began to make ground on the leading LMP1 cars, starting with the Dyson Racing entry of Chris Dyson.
After pressuring his P1 rival for a number of laps Heinemeier Hansson made a successful dive for the position at the final corner, making it past despite Dyson’s late attempts to shut the door.
However, that was to be the start of Conquest’s descent from a promising peak. Within laps Heinemeier Hansson was harshly given a 60 second stop go for what was deemed avoidable contact with Dyson, despite both cars making it round the corner relatively unimpeded. In the short term the penalty dropped Plowman, who took over a lap after the penalty was served, from the battle for the lead, but such as the speed of the Morgan chassis that a late caution for a stranded LMPC car put Plowman right back into the lead battle behind the two Level 5 cars.
Unfortunately, rear suspension failure brought an unsatisfactory end to a most unsatisfactory night for the team, as well as bringing out a final caution. But they were not the only team to leave Baltimore unhappy as the entire LMP1 struggled for pace and reliability.
Dyson Racing’s troubles started as early as turn one, lap one when Michael Marsal understeered off into the tyres, starting a traffic jam that included Ricardo Gonzalez in the #095 Level 5 machine as well as two LMPC cars with Rodin Younessi’s Performance Tech PC car out on the spot after spinning and stalling in the melee.
Despite the inauspicious start Marsal and co-driver Eric Lux would win the LMP1 class, though down in 13th overall. Teammates Chris Dyson and Guy Smith struggled with an ill-handling car all race, their troubles compounded by loose front bodywork that forced a lengthy pitstop, but they still managed to claw back crucial ground to the Muscle Milk Racing duo of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf.
Luhr was the early leader, escaping the turn one mess before pulling away from the hamstrung Dyson, but a gearbox issue would stop their obstacle-free run to the win, opening the door the lower classes to fight for the overall win.
Behind the winning LMP2 pair Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel won LMPC for CORE Autosport ahead of the battle for GT honours.
Tommy Milner initially led from pole for Corvette before losing position in traffic to Jorg Muller’s #55 BMW, but like Heinemeier Hansson the BMW man was handed a harsh penalty, his after an GTC ended in the wall as Muller tried to lap him approaching the chicane inserted into the track to stop cars from getting too airborne over a set of rail tracks crossing the circuit. Muller’s penalty, coming after he had ripped the left-front wing off the BMW off against the tyres marking the aforementioned chicane, though in a separate incident to the one which involved the Porsche.
The penalty for the BMW Team RLL man – 60 seconds, just as for Conquest – gave the lead to Wolf Henzler in the Team Falken Tire Porsche. Taking over the car after three-quarters of an hour Bryan Sellers kept the turquoise and blue car in the lead through the cautions of the second part of the race to collect the class win in fourth overall, repeating for the team which also won the GT class at the Baltimore race last year. Milner and pole winner Oliver Gavin finished second with Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari and the BMW of Joey Hand and Muller ensuring there were four different manufacturers in the class’ top four.
After missing qualifying Al Carter and Patrick Pilet won GTC, the top four in class ending the race almost nose to tail after the late caution.