In what may be the final year that professional sports car racers travel at high speeds through the streets of Baltimore, it only took 14 seconds for the Baltimore Grand Prix, to come to a screeching halt. The narrow front straight, paired with uneven acceleration and a chicane that should make every track designer cringe are amoungst the many reasons that an event scheduled for two hours on Saturday, Aug. 31 ended up actually on track for a little more than one.
Almost as soon as Saturday’s American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race took the green flag, the red flag was in the starters hand as multiple cars made contact. As a result, the field was frozen on the main straight for a 75-minute red flag period.
The Extreme Speed Motorsports race cars were in Turn 3 when they were made aware of the incident behind them. At the start of the race, Ed Brown, co-driver of the No. 02 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, was in the second position on the right side of the grid. He charged his way to the front of the P2 field and was listed as the race leader. Brown was unscathed in the incident.
Anthony Lazzaro, aboard the No. 01 Tequila Patrón Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03b, had a different view from the left side of the grid. At the drop of the green, Lazzaro was ready to charge the field alongside the sister car. Unfortunately, Lazzaro’s lane was slow to move on the start and he made contact with the P2 car in front of him while trying to accelerate. The spinning car stopped facing the wrong way on the race track and was subsequently hit by many of the approaching cars. ALMS officials charged Lazzaro with a stop-and-go penalty.
“Everything that I forecasted and more happened at the Baltimore Grand Prix," stated ESM team owner/driver Scott Sharp. "It was a crazy first start to the race. Anthony did a great job. He ended up hitting Scott Tucker when he slowed down because the car in front of him slowed down. That created a big crash and we got a penalty for it, which we shouldn’t have gotten. On the start of the race, everyone just goes to throttle, has momentum and when someone slows down in front of you, there’s nothing you can do. That was really ridiculous."
Following the red-flag period, ALMS officials restarted the race in the original qualifying order and the clock was reset to zero. As a result, the two-hour race became an hour and 14-minute event.
The race restarted with Brown listed as the P2 class leader and Lazzaro was second.
Lazzaro continued in the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD and charged his way to the front of the P2 field and overall race lead. Lazzaro led the race for nearly 10 minutes and was called to the pits to serve the stop and go penalty. He was able to keep the No. 01 on the lead lap before turning it over to co-driver Scott Sharp.
“I felt pretty good that I when I came in and pitted that I had the quickest race lap at that point," added Lazarro. "Then Scott got in and did a great job. We didn’t have track position, unfortunately, but Scott then turned the fastest race lap.”
Sharp climbed into the No. 01 machine in the second position and was attempting to work his way to the lead. During his stint, Sharp was listed as the fastest driver in the P2 class and was chasing down the class leader. Despite running faster lap times than the P2 race leader, traffic hindered Sharp’s advancement to the P2 lead. In the end, Sharp crossed the finish line in second place.
Moments after the second start of the Grand Prix of Baltimore, Brown was involved in an incident in the narrow Turn 4 with a PC class competitor. Brown found himself in the tires and hit from behind. Brown limped the No. 02 back to the pits where the crew diagnosed the issue as a broken suspension. Brown returned to the field following the 25-minute repair. Despite several race cars being involved in this incident as well, Brown was charged with a stop and go penalty.
“It is really unfortunate that happened," added Brown. "It was a tough day. There was a lot of contact. I think a lot of people were agitated because it was hot and we all sat around during the red flag, so everybody was just ready to go."
Since the race time was changed and shortened several times, Brown was tasked with driving the No. 02 machine for the entire race. After serving his stop and go penalty, Brown returned to the field and had another bout of bad luck and hit the tires in the chicane. He radioed the crew reporting issues with the race car in the closing moments of the race. Upon inspection the No. 02 machine suffered electrical issues as a result of the numerous contacts during the race.
Brown was ranked as the third place P2 finisher. This was the second podium finish for the No. 02 Tequila Patrón HPD this season. Brown and co-driver Johannes van Overbeek finished third at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April.
“This is the first time I’ve been on the podium and not driven," stated a slightly dejected van Overbeek. "Ed unfortunately got in the middle of other people’s poor judgment and that took us out of contention. We had a really fast car as qualifying proved and we’ve just got to move on to Austin."
Next up for the Extreme Speed Motorsports is the International Sports Car Weekend at at Circuit of the Americas on Sept. 18-22.
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