Graf puts Muscle Milk on American Le Mans pole at Baltimore

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Earlier today on the streets of Baltimore, Klaus Graf grabbed the fourth American Le Mans Series pole of the season for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s No. 6 HPD ARX-03c.

The German pilot, who shares the No. 6 with Lucas Luhr, turned in a lap of 85.29 seconds around the two-mile street circuit to earn P1 on the grid for tomorrow’s two-hour ALMS event.

“I think the track changed quite a bit throughout the day, especially with the IndyCars running as well before qualifying,” said Graf.  “There was a lot of grip and you could tell by the lap times that everyone was running faster and faster.

“The difficulty is for the drivers to anticipate the grip level and we were just getting quicker and quicker every lap.”

In P2, Ryan Briscoe – who is returning to an ALMS cockpit for the first time since breaking his wrist last month in the IndyCar doubleheader at Toronto – grabbed the pole in the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b with a lap of 87.17 seconds.

As for Level 5’s newest driver, Guy Cosmo, he’ll start fourth in class in the No. 552 alongside team owner Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti.

Also earning poles were Bill Auberlen (No. 55 Team RLL BMW Z4 GT4) in GT, Dane Cameron (No. 52 PR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09) in Prototype Challenge, and Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) in GT Challenge.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.