Baltimore, MD, (Aug. 31, 2012) - Lotus Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell will start the American Le Mans Series Baltimore Grand Prix presented by SRT from the sixth row in their Lotus Evora GT for tomorrow's race.
The ALMS teams had to deal with limited track time today due to the organizers reconfiguring how the cars go over a set of train tracks, frequently traveled by the Baltimore Light-Rail system. Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) qualified the No. 23 Lotus Evora with a time of 1:33.701 that will have him and teammate Sweedler (Westport, Conn.) starting from the sixth row in GT. The tight confines of the 2.02-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit that winds around Camden Yards, home to the Orioles, and the picturesque Inner Harbor is proving hard on the equipment. Within three laps of the first practice Sweedler had to pit to change the Evora's front nose as it had been fractured over the rough rail road track crossing. The race organizers responded to the rough tracks crossing by putting in a chicane.
"We have a lot going on with the car and track today," Sweedler said. "In the first session I was running flat-out down the straight-away where the tracks are, got some air and came down on the front pretty hard damaging the nose. The track officials then put in a chicane for our last practice and qualifying which we had to make adjustments for on the car. It also robbed us of some valuable practice time. We are working hard with the team to get the car handling on the various track surfaces here. The track is tight, and the GT field is tight. A lot is going to happen in the race tomorrow, and we will be there to take full advantage of it."
Bell, who is running for the first time at Baltimore, is dealing with the various surfaces of the city streets that surround the baseball field.
"The track is a lot of fun," Bell said. "It is a total urban jungle. It is not pretty, but I like the fact that the car jumps around. That makes it a lot of fun and a challenge to drive especially in the brake zones. We get on asphalt, and the car is great. When we get onto the concrete, we lose grip, which is something we have to work on. Unfortunately, more than half of the track is concrete. It should get better for us as the track gets more rubber on it tomorrow. I wish I could have done more for the Lotus AJR guys in qualifying."
Alex Job, team principal, has his dealing with the challenges of street racing.
"Street races are always a challenge" Job said. "It is no small feat to close busy downtown streets and create a racing track. As competitors you adapt to the track and the situation. The chicane was there last year so we knew what to expect. It was a little rough this morning on the car. We came away from the first practice with a damaged nose. Bill and Townsend are trying to come to grips with the varied track surfaces. Yokohama is working closely with us to get the most out of the tires and the car this weekend. The race I am sure will be as eventful as the day has been. We will be ready for any eventuality."
Source: Alex Job Racing