FIA GT: Enge to go in Monza after Le Mans His elbow healed, the best Czech automobile racer Tomas Enge is on the go again. His favorite race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is history and Enge's thoughts start circling around Monza; he will take part...
FIA GT: Enge to go in Monza after Le Mans
His elbow healed, the best Czech automobile racer Tomas Enge is on the go again. His favorite race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is history and Enge's thoughts start circling around Monza; he will take part in the FIA Grand Turismo race this weekend. In France his car was the fastest in the LM GT1 class, but finished fourth. Tomas Enge gives his view of the dramas on the La Sarthe track - and more.
Are you disappointed that you didn't manage to continue in the record series of pole positions in the LM GT1 class - and then didn't succeed in the race either?
"I'm not disappointed as we did our best for success; it simply didn't work out. It rained throughout the qualification, there was pretty much one short while when the track was dry. And that was the only possible moment to set a good qualification time. We missed this chance because we focused more on the right set-up for the race. On the other hand, everybody could see we were the fastest. The car got a new engine - more powerful and durable - after the test and qualification sessions. It was visible in the race. After starting from 10th position, we moved forward quite fast and dominated the race. It was fantastic at night when I managed to set the fastest lap. It was simply great racing."
Until the night drama in the Porsche curves.
"Johnny Herbert's crash was the decisive point of Le Mans for us. By the way, I had a crisis twice at the exact same place myself. It's a very tricky spot. Different camber, slippery surface, moderate horizon. Johnny made it to the mechanics, who fixed the vehicle, but we lost four laps. We set in a pursuit in the rest of the race, but Sunday morning brought another infliction."
You mean your wild spin over the curbs of the Indianapolis corner? "Exactly."
Your pursuit of Christophe Bouchut in 3rd was fabulous, the director of the live broadcast showed almost nothing else - didn't you overexert, though?
"No. I had clear instructions from the management: go flat out. And I did as much as I could. I took off one minute of our loss and tried to overtake Bouchut, but he blocked me out. Two or three times we overtook each other, we even got into contact. The Frenchman got himself into trouble by these maneuvers, as he was told by the team to let me go, but he didn't obey. He drove the third factory Aston that had the same engine and other parts as mine. While I was praised for the pursuit, he was reproached for not following the orders."
And how about the spin, did you overdo it?
"I got into a wind pocket behind Bouchut and lost rear downforce. The car wasn't in perfect shape after Johnnny Herbert's accident, so it took little and I was spinning. It's a pity, we had chances for second place had the Corvette had even the slightest problems. But it's all over."
How would you review the race from other angles - spectators, weather, competition.
"This was my sixth time in Le Mans and I think it was the toughest. Apart from strong competition, weather played a major role. The pouring rains had a big effect on the race. It's good nothing serious happened, but especially on the long straights it is very difficult and dangerous in such conditions. I have to mention spectators, too. They are always great in Le Mans, this year they flooded the circuit, over 250,000 came. It's fantastic to race in such an atmosphere, especially when you see Czech flags along the track."
Now you're in for Monza, your second FIA Grand Turismo event this year. Will you go with Tim Mullen as in Zhuai, China?
"Yes, the Scuderia Ecosse team's line-up doesn't change. The other Ferrari 430 will be driven by Chris Niarchos and Andrew Kirkaldy."
Monza seems to be your favorite. It's superfast, which you prefer, and you also experienced one of your career highlights there.
"Monza and the original Hockenheim were always my preferred circuits. It was near Milan where I drove my first Grand Prix F1 and finished 12th; so yes, I'm always glad to come back to Monza. We expect a tough race this weekend. Many great crews on Ferraris and Porsches, and also weather is going to play a key role. It's supposed to be hot which is always a tricky tire-lottery. I wish our Pirelli tires were better than Michelins. We will stay in Monza after the race for some testing. I hope we will be successful, in order to be as fast as possible in the next races - also in Brno, Czech Republic in September, of course."
-credit: tomas enge