It was an expensive day for a number of American Le Mans Series teams on the streets of Baltimore last Saturday, as a six-car pileup brought the start of the scheduled two-hour race a grinding halt.
While nobody was injured, the estimated cost from the massive accident has exceeded $1.5 million, including at least two replacement chassis having been ordered in time for the next round at the Circuit of The Americas.
The No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Scott Tucker took the biggest hit, with the head-on collision from Tom Kimber-Smith’s CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR resulting in two destroyed race cars.
“It was pretty clear within about 30 seconds of looking at the car that we were going to go the route of replacing the tub, both from front and rear impact damage,” CORE autosport team manager Morgan Brady said. “We got into [Scott] Tucker in the front and the Falken car got into us in the back. There was no saving this tub.”
Within minutes, the two-time and defending PC champions relayed the information onto Porsche, which was able to secure a replacement 997-model chassis in Germany.
Brady expects the chassis to arrive at its Rock Hill, S.C. shop early next week, which will result in some marathon days to build and prepare the car for COTA the following weekend.
“Going into a race like COTA, you’d always like to have a bit more time to be prepared,” Brady said. “As always, you never have the time that you want but I’m confident our guys will put their heads down and get the work done for COTA.”
Level 5 has reportedly sourced a new tub for its P2 class contender, which also suffered heavy damage to the front and rear. Tucker was tapped from behind by the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD of Anthony Lazzaro, which triggered the accident that took nearly one hour to clean up.
For Team Falken Tire, which was seeking its third consecutive GT class victory in Baltimore, the crash also put a dent in it preparations for COTA, which could now mean reverting to its 2010-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
“Porsche is pulling out the stops to get new chassis over here, but there is the possibility that we will not have enough time to do the Promoter Test prior to the event,” said team manager Derrick Walker. “Austin was always going to be a challenge because it is a new track that we have not been to yet, so searching for the best set-up is now a lot more complicated.
“Another possibility in our plan is reverting to our 2010 RSR as a fallback. Either way, we know the Falken Tire boys will give it their all and we will be at Austin running for our first time of the 2013 season.”
The two other GT contenders that were eliminated from the Baltimore pileup – the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche – fared marginally better, with both teams expecting to fix minor chassis damage and not having to replace entire cars.
It’s been a season to forget for the Risi squad, which missed the Grand Prix of Mosport due to chassis damage sustained in a high-speed accident at Lime Rock Park in July. Drivers Matteo Malucelli and Olivier Beretta only have a single podium finish to their credit this year and will be looking to rebound on the team’s home soil of Texas later this month.