BALTIMORE, Md. — Level 5 Motorsport’s Christophe Bouchut left it to the last possible moment in qualifying Friday, and had everyone on the edge of their seats, but the Frenchman was determined that the P2 pole position for Saturday's Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT would be his.
On his tenth and final lap of the 15-minute session, Bouchut impressively hustled the No. 055 Honda Performance Development ARX 03b around the narrow confines of the 2-mile temporary street track in an astounding time of 1:27.119. He was chased down throughout the session by the Conquest Endurance Morgan Nissan of Martin Plowman, who eventually qualified just eight hundredths of a second behind Bouchut, and the No. 95 Level 5 car of Luis Diaz. It was not only his 9th class pole, but also a new qualifying lap record for the P2 class.
“It is a bit tough here,” said Bouchut, with characteristic understatement. “I was not able to drive in the second practice session and they put in the chicane on the front strait so I took a few laps at the beginning of the [qualifying] session to find my way. We also changed a lot of things on the setup just before qualifying so I didn’t know exactly how it was going to be. I knew the track, a street circuit like this, would be good for me so when my engineer said you are P2 by only a tenth and you can do better. I took the car to the limits on my last lap, the limits of braking, and got P1 so it’s great.”
He continued: “We will have to fight hard tomorrow. In our car, it is hard to overtake even the GTs and it will be so hard to stay clean. It was a good decision to make that chicane. Without it, at our speeds you could see the cars were flying. As it is right now, it is not very good because if someone hits it, it is like a wall. So I hope they will go back to do what we did last year with just the curb.”
The two scheduled practice sessions prior to qualifying had been subject to delays and disruptions, mostly due to a very bumpy section over the railroad tracks on the front strait which required attention. After much discussion amongst drivers and officials, a temporary tire chicane was installed to try and reduce the chance of cars losing control over the bumps. A more permanent chicane is due to be built overnight so there will be a new challenge for the drivers to embrace in warm up tomorrow morning.
With interruptions to the day and problems finding a well-balanced set up, laps for Scott Tucker and Ricardo Gonzalez have been limited. Tucker will share the No. 055 with Bouchut, the first time that he will drive only one of the team’s two HPD ARX 03b cars, and Gonzalez will be partnering Luis Diaz.
Source: Level 5 Motorsports