Sascha Maassen earned his second American Le Mans Series podium in as many starts this season, but it wasn't the finish he wanted. Maassen, of Raeren, Belgium, and Lucas Luhr of Monaco scored a third-place LMP2 finish in the May 7 series race on the streets of Houston.
Maassen qualified the No. 6 Penske Porsche RS Spyder second in class, third overall, with a lap of one minute 5.245 seconds on the 1.7-mile Houston Reliant Park street circuit, at an average speed of 93.249 mph. He drove the first race stint and was contesting second place overall when he was hit from behind by an Audi prototype just eight minutes into the two-hour 45-minute race. The contact punctured the right-rear tire, forcing a pitstop to replace it.
After losing a lap on the stop, Maassen charged back through the field to second in class, third overall, before handing off to Luhr at 1h12. Luhr took the class lead at 2h16, but was out of the race five minutes later with a drivetrain problem, just 24 minutes from the finish. The pair finished third in class, 14th overall.
"When we arrived, we were a little bit surprised by the bumpiness of the track. We were off in our setup and we had to make big jumps to make our car run well," Maassen said. "In the race, the car was really good. I chose the harder tire on the right rear so I could drive longer, so we were a little bit slower for the first few laps. That's probably why [Audi driver] Dindo Capello became nervous. It was very unfortunate, he hit me from behind on the right rear tire with his front nose, so he was not even anywhere close to overtaking.
"After that, we had a great race. >From one lap down, we went back within 50 seconds of the lead. We had a great pitstop and we made up a lot of time. Then when we were second, we had a transmission problem and that was the end of the race. We were very lucky that we still finished on the podium, but of course this is not the way we want to be on the podium. My wish for next weekend is to be on the podium and also finish the race."