Team Modena announced Tuesday that it has signed Tomas Enge to co-drive its Aston Martin DBR9 in the European-based Le Mans Series. The Czech star will join team regular Antonio Garcia in the five-round championship which begins at Barcelona in April. While Enge’s main focus in 2008 will be on securing the LM GT1 crown, he will also face a new challenge, competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a brand-new Lola Aston Martin LM P1 coupe.
Team Modena enters its third season in the LMS after placing fourth in the teams’ championship in 2007. Garcia shared driving duties with Christian Fittipaldi for most of the year, but Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner and Liz Halliday also took turns in the car. Fittipaldi has since moved onto a fulltime drive for Andretti Green Racing in the American Le Mans Series and Turner will be staying busy with his British Touring Car commitments. This opened the door for Enge to slide into the cockpit of chassis No. 101, the first privateer chassis.
“We are delighted to have Tomas joining us for the 2008 Le Mans Series,” Richard T. Bryan, Team Modena sporting director said. “He is an excellent driver with significant experience in the DBR9 and so, alongside Antonio, we are looking forward to a good season - possibly our best yet in the Le Mans Series!”
Enge is no stranger to the DBR9, having driven for Aston Martin Racing in the 2006 ALMS season as well as taking part in past 24 Hours of Le Mans with the team. He and Garcia are aiming for the LMS championship but will face strong challenges from the two Luc Alphand Aventures Corvettes as well as the Larbre Competition Saleen and a Reiter-supported Lamborghini Murcielago.
“I look very much forward to racing for Team Modena,” Enge said. “There are several reasons: the team is of a very high quality and enjoys the support from Aston Martin Racing. Antonio [Garcia] is an easy-going guy and a very fast pilot; I get along very well with him. We know each other from extensive testing performed last autumn at Jerez, and I think that we will excellently complement each other.”
Enge spent the 2007 season with a variety of teams. He started off the year co-driving a Ferrari F430 GT for Petersen/White Lightning Racing in the ALMS, before shattering his elbow in a crash in the second round at St. Petersburg. The 31-year-old returned to the cockpit just three races later at Miller Motorsports Park, teaming with Turner to take the win in LM GT2. However, things took a turn for the worse just a few races later. At Mid-Ohio, Enge was released from his contract with Petersen/White Lightning due to incidents during that race.
While his season in the ALMS came to a premature end, he still was busy racing in other series. Enge competed in select rounds of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series for SAMAX Motorsport and also raced in the FIA GT Championship for Scuderia Ecosse and RBImmo Racing. He also ran in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin Racing. During the winter, Enge has been playing an active role in A1GP and also took part in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Enge has taken on a unique challenge for 2008, also being part of the Aston Martin Racing-supported project with Charouz Racing Systems. He will steer the unique Lola B08/60 Aston Martin P1 coupe in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with LMS season-long co-drivers Jan Charouz and Stefan Mucke.
“I am glad that Tomas will be racing during the entire season of the Le Mans Series in a good quality team, with a good quality car, which he is so fond of, and together with such a fast colleague as Antonio Garcia,” said Antonin Charouz, Enge’s manager. “He, Stefan Mucke and my son Jan will also race with our new Lola Aston Martin at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They are expected to make a strong trio.”
Team Modena also has a full plate lined up for the coming season. In addition to the LMS program, the team has been granted an entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driver lineup to be confirmed. They will also be competing in the British GT Championship with a GT3-spec Lamborghini Gallardro and provide technical support to the Bell Motorsports Aston Martin program in the ALMS.
"We have worked hard in the last two seasons, and this year we are very confident of running a successful campaign in both the LMS and British GT3," said Team Modena team principal Graham Schultz. "Key personnel have enhanced the team and I am very happy with where we are now…. This will be a big year for us; things should develop through the year and the Team Modena name should be at the forefront of a lot of exciting events."