Phoenix: Sigalsport GT race report

SIGALSPORT TRIMS THE GAP WITH THE BEST GT CARS AT PHOENIX! Sigal/Alhadeff finished 11th and Alhadeff/Michaelian 12th. Los Angeles, California, September 11, 2005: Gene Sigal and Matt Alhadeff, co-driving the Sigalsport Alhadeff Companies...

SIGALSPORT TRIMS THE GAP WITH THE BEST GT CARS AT PHOENIX!

Sigal/Alhadeff finished 11th and Alhadeff/Michaelian 12th.

Los Angeles, California, September 11, 2005: Gene Sigal and Matt Alhadeff, co-driving the Sigalsport Alhadeff Companies / Motul USA / The Speed Gallery / GlycoMax Porsche No. 05 claimed 11th place and Jim Michaelian and Matt Alhadeff, co-driving the Sigalsport Porsche No. 04 claimed 12th place in the Phoenix GT 250 under the lights last Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Phoenix 250 was the first race anniversary for the young Sigalsport racing team that has done very well in the first 20 races of its early career history. The Phoenix round of the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series marked the first split race this season between GT and Daytona prototypes.

Gene Sigal qualified the No. 05 machine 10th overall, only 0.9 seconds behind the fastest Porsche driven by factory driver Patrick Long. This was the best performance in qualifying this season for the Los Angeles driver and the team demonstrating again the substantial improvement made by the Sigalsport team managed by Emmanuel Lupe with technical direction from engineer Rod Everett and crew chief Eduardo Cademartori and all the crew.

Jim Michaelian was making his debut with Sigalsport and was driving for the second time only this year after his convincing appearance at the 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Jim qualified 16th fastest, only 5.4 seconds slower than the best Porsches which is a great performance for the non-pro driver considering that the Long Beach Grand Prix President races in Grand American twice a year and that he had only less than two hours to test prior to qualifying!

Matt Alhadeff arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday with a stomach problem and after spending a dreadful night at his hotel, his condition got worst overnight and he was forced to see a doctor who diagnosed him with food poisoning and dehydration. After spending a day at his hotel recuperating, Matt who was racing cars No. 04 and 05 in the Phoenix 250 and also No. 91 in the Grand-Am Cup event was forced to miss GT qualifying but thanks to the rules was able to start the race in car No. 04, but in the back of the field.

At the start on Friday night, Gene Sigal took a good start in car No. 05 and was able to find a competitive pace. Like in qualifying, Gene Sigal was able to close the gap with the best GT cars and his pace in the race was only 1.2 seconds slower than the best Porsche and 2 seconds slower than the winning factory Pontiac driven by former F1 driver, Magnussen. After 80 laps, Gene was 10th overall and handed the wheel to Matt Alhadeff. Matt drove a very consistent race and was able to regain four positions lost after the pit stop. On Lap 117, Alhadeff, who still suffered from dehydration was forced to step down after 38 laps in the car and Gene finished the race in 11th despite trying to gain on tenth place in the last 20 laps of the event.

Matt Alhadeff took the start in car No. 04 and did an excellent job learning the track that he was discovering because of his lack of practice due to his illness. Matt handed the car to Jim Michaelian on Lap 17 and Jim drove it without a glitch for the next 128 laps until the checkered flag; a remarkable performance rewarded by a 12th place finish.

This encouraging result allowed the team to gain four positions in the championship ranking. Sigalsport's No. 05 is now placed 14th in the overall GT ranking, only 20 points away from top-ten in the series, which still remains a priority goal in the next three races of the season at Watkins Glen 3, Virginia and Mexico City.

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Series GRANDAM