A late start and a scant 75 minutes of practice meant that the learning curve for the American Le Mans Series Baltimore Grand Prix was a steep one. Jan Magnussen and Tommy Milner proved to be fast learners when they qualified Corvette Racing’s twin Compuware C6.Rs second and fourth respectively for Saturday’s two-hour street race through downtown Baltimore.
Magnussen was quickest in the abbreviated final practice session, and then turned his fastest lap at 1:31.950 in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R on his fifth qualifying lap on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit. The No. 55 BMW M3 GT of Dirk Werner was the fastest qualifier in the category at 1:31.36.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to make changes or to find a good rhythm, so I’m very pleased with the work that the Corvette Racing engineers did,” Magnussen said. “All in all, I’m happy with the car. Now we have to work with the extra bit of data we have, and I think there is more speed to come. The walls get closer and closer the harder you push – that’s all part of it.
“There are some massive bumps out there, and the cars are taking a beating worse than Sebring,” Magnussen added. “It’s still good fun to drive this circuit, and you’re really feel that you’re racing in the heart of the city with the tall buildings all around. It’s cool, and I enjoy it.”Oliver explains a little more about the new-for-2011 ALMS venue: “The front straight, all the way down to Turn 4, is really, really bumpy here. You’ve got all these blocks of concrete either side of you and you’re bouncing along from one to another! If you go into Turn 1 and you’re braking, I don’t think the car’s ever got all four wheels on the track at the same time; it’s moving around a lot.
“You come off that corner and it’s a long, long left hander and it’s super bumpy. Our car’s either on the rev limiter or it has traction control engaged all the way through the corner and down to Turn 3. You brake there and again the car’s in the air, bouncing, and you come off that and it’s the same again.
“Once you come through Turn 4 though they’ve re-paved all the track and it’s not too bad – sort of a standard street course. I’d say this is the bumpiest street course we’ve raced on since Houston in 2007.
“It’s not easy at the chicane on the straight, it would be nicer if the kerbs weren’t so close together and if it wasn’t so aggressive, but I suppose they’ve got to do that to slow everyone down. It’s not the nicest solution but it’s a solution.
“Apart from that it’s a fun track and I think once it rubbers in it will be okay. There’s so much where you’re bouncing from one thing to another, from one bump to the next looking for grip. If you strike a couple of the inside kerbs wrong, especially through Turn 7 near the pits, you can really get the car to bottom out and it really winds you.”
With thanks to Corvette Racing.