Porsche Motorsport press release
Baltimore Grand Prix Qualifying Brings Action for Porsche Racing Teams; Both Flying Lizard Porsches Moved to Back of GT Grid ; Bleekemolen Loses Wheel, Gains GTC Pole
Baltimore, Maryland – September 2 – In the most active qualifying session in recent memory for a 15-minute qualifying session, the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR race cars were both moved to the back of the GT grid for rules violations, while the Team Falken Tire Porsche was held up by the same car twice and the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup grabbed the GTC pole despite losing a wheel in the first minute of the session.
There was an incident between the #62 Jamie Melo Risi Ferrari and the #45 Patrick Long Porsche 911 GT3 RSR which caused both cars to be black-flagged and drivers called in for a meeting with the IMSA stewards. Melo was on a cool-down lap with his Ferrari while Long was on a fast lap flyer. According to Patrick, he approached the Ferrari, Melo moved over into the racing line in first gear and would not move out of the way. Long bumped him, and after a post-session meeting, both cars were excluded from qualifying and moved to the back of the grid for violation of IMSA Code 5.7 – “unjustifiable risk.”
“You can’t be running in first gear on the racing line during a 15-minute qualifying session,” said Long, who was not pleased about the whole situation. “It is not fair to the others on the course to block the racing line if you are not going to go racing speed. Our car is well prepared and we are ready for this race tomorrow.”
“It’s a shame that we have been excluded – the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche has shown great improvement over the short time we have been on the track today, and Patrick’s third-fastest time was proof that we are ready to race. We will have to keep our nose clean and try to pass cars in a patient manor to move up in the field. The course is bumpy , and there are only a few places to overtake, so our task will be difficult.”
The Seth Neiman/Darren Law Flying Lizard Porsche, which Law qualified ninth in GT, was also moved to the back of the GT grid as Neiman, who only drove a few practice laps, did not achieve a minimal practice lap time to avoid the IMSA penalty.
Wolf Henzler, who will co-drive with Bryan Sellers in the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, was also frustrated, but for a different reason. Henzler, who was fastest in the first session and third in GT in the second session, could not get good track position during qualifying, ending up fifth on the grid.
“We were very happy with our car from the very first lap were turned here in Baltimore, as we were fastest in one practice session and third in the one just before qualifying, but we had bad luck with track position in qualifying. On two different laps, we were stuck behind the same GTC car which was nine seconds slower than us on the track, and once we were behind the same slowing Ferrari that Patrick experienced. We gained traction with every session in the Falken Porsche, and feel good about our chances tomorrow if we can get by cars in traffic.”
In GTC, Jeroen Bleekemolen , in the car he will share with class points leader Tim Pappas, put the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the pole, but not without a qualifying adventure ofhis own.
“On the first lap, our wheel came off and I thought we were in big trouble. I pulled off the track, and remembered that Le Mans rules allow you to get out of the car and recover the wheel if you are in a safe area and drive back to the pits. I put the wheel into the passenger side and drove to the pits on three wheels. The Black Swan crew saw no other damage, put the wheel back on, and sent me back out. After my first out lap, we set our pole position time. The car is great, and I really like this street circuit.”
The nearest competitors to Pappas in the tightly-contested GTC class are the TRG Porsche drivers Duncan Ende and Spencer Pumpelly, but contact with the wall by Ende near the finish of the one-hour practice left the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with no qualifying time and an all-nighter at a local body shop. The team hopes to have the car ready for tomorrow’s race.
Second in GTC was the Alex Job Racing Battery Tender Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Bill Sweedler and Leh Keen, while was the Andrew Davis/Peter LeSaffre Porsche was third.