Joe Jennings, ALMS Correspondent
Lucas Luhr made it look easy as he put the Muscle Milk Picket Racing HPD ARX-03a on the pole for Saturday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, an American LeMans Series race.
For Luhr, he earned a time of 1:25.174 in his first race on Baltimore’s street course. Klaus Graf shares the driving duties with Luhr.
They took P1 honors.
There was nothing spectacular about the run, just a good solid lap,” he said.
Luhr’s day didn’t start out well as the car was bouncing and jumping around on him. “It was almost like the car didn’t like me,” he said. “We made a lot of changes and basically, the team turned the car upside down. It worked well in qualifying, and I am generally pretty happy with it.”
He had the pole early in qualifying but when his team told him he could stay on the track if he wanted to, he did just that and lowered the pole time. “I was getting in the groove at that point, and my time improved. There was nothing spectacular about the run, just a good solid lap,” he said.
Luhr’s chief competition came from the Dyson Racing Team Lola B-12/60 of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson. Although Smith was hanging tough, he struck a tire barrier during qualifications, ending his shot at the pole. In an earlier incident, Dyson came together with one of the Corvettes, damaging the car.
In P2 action, Christophe Bouchut grabbed the pole in the last seconds of qualifications, besting Martin Plowman in doing so. His time was 1:27.119. Bouchut and co-driver Scott Tucker drive the Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b.
“I didn’t even get to drive in the second session, as the team was changing the set-up,” he noted. “At the end, I slowed down but then my team said I could get going, so I reduced the braking and that made the difference.”
Bruno Junqueira bounced off the wall twice but he held on to take the PC pole with a time of 1:27.464. After setting fast time, he grazed the wall, damaging the right side of the car. The Brazilian was driving the RSR Racing Oreca FLM09. Tomy Drisi co-drives with Junqueira.
“I was lucky to finish the lap and get the lap,” Junqueira said. “I had a bent steering wheel and I bent the suspension with my last brush with the wall.”
A tick of the clock behind Junqueira was the CORE Autosport entry of Ryan Dalziel and a second CORE entry of Colin Braun. Dalziel’s co-driver is Alex Popow while Jonathan Bennett shares the seat with Braun.
In the highly competitive GT class, Oliver Gavin reeled off a lap at 1:35.221 to take the class pole position in a Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1. Tommy Milner co-drives with Gavin.
Gavin had an encounter with Dyson during practice, and the exhaust of the car was bent in the collision. “The Corvette is pretty strong, and I qualified with the bent exhaust,” Gavin commented.
Second fast was the BMW Team RLL BMW E92 M3 of Bill Auberlen, who will be joined in the race by Jorg Muller.
Third fastest time went to the second factory Corvette C6 of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.
In practice preceding qualifications, Marc Goosens had a hard crash in the new SRT Viper GTSR and it is not known whether repairs can be made in time for the race.
GTC honors went to Damien Faulkner, who turned a lap at 1:35.221. Peter LeSaffre co-drives with Faulkner. They drive the Green Hornet Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry.
Thirty-one cars are expected to start Saturday’s two-hour race, which starts at 4:30 p.m. ET.