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Intersport Racing Driver Kyle Marcelli Wins Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix

Kyle Marcelli (leading) in action on the streets of Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Kyle MarcelliWith a sold out crowd of over 150,000 spectators, the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix was one for the ages. Taking place on a 2.1-mile temporary circuit on the streets of Baltimore’s inner harbor, the American Le Mans Series wowed fans with an action packed 2-hour race. Earning the win and setting the fast lap of the race was Intersport Racing driver Kyle Marcelli. Co-driving alongside Marcelli for their second win together of 2011 was American Tomy Drissi.

Arriving on Thursday, Marcelli and Drissi had the opportunity to walk the circuit with Intersport Racing’s team manager and engineer. Because this was a temporary circuit and a first time venue for the American Le Mans Series, the drivers utilized the official track walk to learn the course and pick up visual reference points as well as look at apexes and track surfaces.

Practice was scheduled for Friday morning, followed by qualifying in the afternoon. With delays in track preparation, the drivers, including Marcelli and Drissi, received little time on track before qualifying. Following completion of the first and only official practice, it was Marcelli who set the pace, topping the time charts in the LMPC class. Behind him was Core Autosports’ Gunnar Jeanette.

Qualifying was another nail biter as Marcelli duked it out with Jeanette, exchanging fast lap after fast lap. Marcelli sat on the provisional pole position for the first half of the session before Jeanette found some more pace, giving Marcelli a run. It came down to the final lap of qualifying where Gunnar Jeanette took the pole position from Marcelli by only 0.06 hundredths of a second. The duo were over one second quicker than the rest of the field.

Under overcast skies, over 150,000 fans were on their feet as the world’s most exotic sports cars took the green flag on Saturday afternoon, marking the start of the 2-hour endurance race. Drissi, was behind the wheel for the first stint and drove superbly, maintaining second place position until a mistake from the leader handed the race lead to Marcelli. Drissi led the balance of the first stint before a full-course caution came out with just over one hour left to go in the race. As the Intersport Racing team called Drissi into the pits, it was a quick stop for fuel and driver change. The team opted not to take tires. Marcelli strapped in and left the pit lane. As the race went green, Marcelli almost immediately set the fast lap of the race, at 1:30.585. This was over one full second faster than the next fastest in the LMPC class and only .7 tenths off the pace of the LMP1 leaders. 

The twenty-one year-old Barrie, Ontario native almost took the overall race lead, sitting first place in class and second place overall for about 8 laps following their pit stop. Marcelli raced around the 2.1 mile street circuit for the next hour passing through the traffic of slower GT cars before taking the checkered flag, winning the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. For Marcelli and Drissi, Baltimore marked their second ALMS victory of 2011.

Marcelli will be back in action this weekend with Miami’s Chapman Ducote as the two are paired for the next European Le Mans Series race at Silverstone, located about two hours outside of London, England. The event runs this weekend, September 9-11 and the two will be looking to repeat their last victory together in Italy just weeks ago.

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