BIG Win for TRG at the 2012 Baltimore Grand-Prix Team car takes 4th place
Petaluma, CA (September 3) As one of the more challenging courses in the ALMS series, the Baltimore Grand-Prix took to the streets in its iconic and unforgiving design composed mostly of concrete barriers, incredible bumps and jumps and minimal run-off space. TRG came away victorious in one of the most exciting four-car nose-to-tail finishes this season.
The team took to the event with a powerful two-car assault in what started out as a challenging weekend for the B+ Foundation / Morton's The Steakhouse / Adobe Road Winery No. 68 Porsche GT3 car piloted by Al Carter and Porsche factory driver Patrick Pilet. An incident during practice resulted in Carter taking the green flag from the last position.
A sizable wreck at the start of the race caused mayhem in the first turn, with several cars sustaining heavy damage and Carter was able to slip through the mess unscathed. Once the course returned to green, he was able to clear much of the traffic, successfully gaining several positions. By the fifth green flag lap, Carter climbed to second.
"I went down into turn one, and there were pieces everywhere," explained Carter. "There were little spots and gaps, I made my way between the smoke and got by a couple of cars. Given the nature of this course, I choose my battles carefully--I felt like I was on the freeway at rush hour."
Not only did the challenging track conditions present an exciting race for Carter, but this would be Al's first professional sportscar win.
"It got exciting as the GTC class always is," said Carter. "I didn't go through turn-one very fast, but I was always looking to make up positions driving carefully, yet aggressively."
Carter and Pilet's first place podium spot certainly didn't come to them easily, as Pilet held off a late charge from Leh Keen in Alex Job Racing's No. 22 Porsche, and the top four cars finished within 1.696 seconds. Both drivers in the No. 68 battled the intense heat, and oil covered the windshield in the last 15-minutes, making Pilet's task even more challenging.
"After starting last in the field with no qualifying time from a practice accident, our car was great all day," Pilet said. "Al kept us on the lead lap, and I knew I could compete for the win."
Marc Bunting and Spencer Pumpelly in the Porsche of Towson / Team Baltimore Porsche No. 66 GT3 began the weekend more positively, turning fast laps in practice and making strong setup changes right up to the start of the race. Unfortunately, Bunting was hit from behind in the turn one melee, and was required to make several unscheduled pits stops to rectify the problems.
Bunting re-entered the race nearly a full lap down but turned in an awesome performance, posting some of the fastest laps in class for the opening stint. Turning it over to his co-driver Spencer Pumpelly at the halfway mark, Pumpelly was able to make quick work of the drivers ahead, bringing the No. 66 car back into contention. With a late yellow flag, the end of the race was a nail biter, with the top four cars finishing nose to tail in one of the closest finishes in the history of the GTC class.
"This was really one exciting race in so many ways," stated TRG team owner Kevin Buckler. "The highs and the lows, all of the emotion, the crash, the very hot weather--the whole team really had their hands full this weekend. We had two strong cars and four strong drivers. It was especially a privilege to be back with Marc, Porsche of Towson and Team Baltimore, and a real solid shot at the win. They put together such a great program with all of their local sponsors. I felt so bad that Marc got caught up in that mess in turn one. It was totally not his fault but we fixed the problem and got the car back in contention and Marc just drove the wheels off the car. We took a little extra fuel and we left him out a little longer and when the right opportunity came for the driver change we took it and got back on the lead lap. Spencer pedaled the car right back up to the front as usual, but with four of the best Porsche drivers on the planet running nose to tail right to the end, passing was difficult."
"I was so proud of Al and Patrick--taking the win and in such dramatic fashion," explained Buckler. "What a great first win for Al, and all this to happen at the Baltimore Grand Prix. He drove clean and smart, and even led most of his stint as well. He turned the car over to Patrick in fine shape, and Patrick drove a brilliant final stint and brought home the victory for our team. I want to thank everyone at Team Baltimore and the B+ Foundation as well as our good friends at Morton's The Steakhouse for a great week in Baltimore. I'm very proud of our team this weekend."
The Baltimore Grand Prix is the fourth race that TRG has earned first place points this season, which will keep the team in second place in GTC paints, and unofficially with a 24 point deficit. With only two races to go, TRG is still in the thick of the championship battle.
The next round of the ALMS championship is the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón VIR 240 from Virginia International Raceway. The four hour race is scheduled for 2:30pm ET on Saturday, September 15th with full live coverage starting at 2:15pm ET on ESPN3. The race will be re-braodcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, September 16th at 5pm ET.
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