Bleekemolen’s qualifying heroics, two bizarre races have hit ALMS at Baltimore

Leave a comment

Baltimore has been the site of two of the most abnormal race weekends in American Le Mans Series history.

In 2011, Jeroen Bleekemolen pulled off the above feat during GTC class qualifying. The Dutchman lost a tire on his Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, but then picked it up and put it back in the passenger’s seat. He looped around to his pit box, the team reattached the tire and Bleekemolen promptly stuck the car on pole! Never mind that Bleekemolen and co-driver Tim Pappas won the race, because that was what was known for.

Additional 2011 surprises came in the form of the overall and GT class winners. Dyson Racing’s older, second Lola Mazda coupe, driven by the unheralded pair of Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane took the P1 and overall win. Meanwhile in GT, Team Falken Tire won its first race in dry conditions and second of that season with Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

A year ago, mixed weather conditions and more than a dozen cars on the lead lap between four of the five classes also made for a jumbled final finishing order. Level 5 Motorsports took the overall win the P2 class HPD ARX-03b, co-driven by Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. The second Dyson Lola Mazda won again in P1 with another pair of lesser known drivers, Eric Lux and Michael Marsal, although they finished 13th overall.

Falken repeated in GT with Sellers and Henzler; that team seeks a three-peat of victories this season.

The two oddities have meant the pre-eminent prototype team and GT class tire – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in P1 and Michelin in GT, respectively – have yet to visit victory lane at Baltimore (Michelin has supplied control tires to the PC class the last two years, but does not consider those official victories).

Expect those to change this weekend, with Michelin rubber on nine of the 11 GT class entries (excluding Falken and the West/AJR/Boardwalk Ferrari, which runs on Yokohamas), and with only one other P1 car entered besides Muscle Milk. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith return to action in Dyson’s No. 16 Lola Mazda for the first time since Lime Rock this weekend. Muscle Milk has Lucas Luhr back in his usual car after his first IndyCar start in Sonoma last weekend.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
Leave a comment

SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.