SAMAX Drivers Carpentier and Dalziel Finish Fifth at Laguna Seca Sunday, May 20, 2007 - Smart pit strategy by the SAMAX Motorsport crew at the start of Round 5 of the 14-race Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey,...
SAMAX Drivers Carpentier and Dalziel Finish Fifth at Laguna Seca
Sunday, May 20, 2007 - Smart pit strategy by the SAMAX Motorsport crew at the start of Round 5 of the 14-race Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California on Sunday required Ryan Dalziel to come in on lap one for a stop and go when the race went full course yellow. The strategy helped heal some of the afflictions suffered by the team since the weekend began on Friday. Qualifying the Pontiac Riley in eighth place on Saturday, Dalziel saw his time thrown out by series officials following post-qualifying scrutiny when the car's ride height was deemed a fraction off the limit as were those of four other DP teams and a load of other Rolex GT and KONI Challenge cars. To make things worse, Carpentier was hit from the rear during Sunday morning's warm-up session, damaging the rear of the SAMAX Pontiac Riley.
Nothing looked good at the start of the 400-kilometer race for SAMAX. Starting 19th and last, Dalziel listened to his crew's call to come in early to comply with the series rules that forces teams to pit within the first 45 minutes of the race and soon found himself in ninth place by lap 8 when others pitted during the second full course yellow. Then he found himself sixth on lap 23 when the leaders pitted. He moved to third place three laps later and into second by lap 34. Chasing the #99 pole-sitting Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty, the two drivers kept in touch within half a second of each other until a full course yellow brought the leaders to pit-lane following contact between Ian James and Nic Johnson on lap 54.
Carpentier took over from Dalziel and returned to the track in fifth place behind leader Jorg Bergmeister, Scott Pruett, Alex Gurney and Oswaldo Negri. On lap 83 with 20 minutes to go, a full course caution was displayed. None of the leaders pitted and the race moved on until the next yellow, when, once again none of leaders pitted. Then the #05 car of Matthew Alhedeff spun out to bring the seventh yellow of the day with three laps to go when he went off into the gravel trap at turn 4. The third race of the Laguna Seca weekend would once again end under another full course yellow. Another bummer of a finish, but a fifth different winner in five 2007 Daytona Prototype races.
"We looked like we were in good shape when Ryan (Dalziel) came in for a driver change, but we had a problem with the safety belts," said Carpentier, whose team was awarded the Sun Trust Trophy for most positions improved during the race with 13. "It's hard to say how many places we lost, but we went back on track in fifth place. After that, nobody improved. We are kind of lucky to pick up fifth-place points because there was nothing that precluded such an ending prior to the start of the race. The team called a great race."
SAMAX Motorsport holds third place in the Team Standings after five races with 134 points, closing the gap to 14 points to championship leader Ganassi Racing. Second place belongs to Sun Trust Racing with 143 points.