SCC: Lime Rock: Friday practice report

Henzler Leads First Practice for Rolex GT Series Challenge at Lime Rock LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2006) -- In the first Rolex Series practice session at Lime Rock Park since 2001, German standout Wolf Henzler clocked a best lap at...

Henzler Leads First Practice for Rolex GT Series Challenge at Lime Rock

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2006) -- In the first Rolex Series practice session at Lime Rock Park since 2001, German standout Wolf Henzler clocked a best lap at 55.259 seconds (99.676 mph) around the historic 1.54-mile New England road course to top the time charts in preparation for Monday's Rolex GT Series Challenge (SPEED, 2:30 p.m. ET).

Driving the No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3, Henzler put his knowledge of racing at Lime Rock in other cars to good use in the first of the day's two scheduled practice sessions to turn the best lap of the day. Rainy conditions in the second practice session prevented most of the cars from turning laps, and nobody approached the fastest times from earlier. Henzler and co-driver Robin Liddell are looking for their second victory of the season on Monday after notching the maiden Rolex Series class victory for Tafel Racing earlier this month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"We didn't expect this," Henzler said. "Maybe we were lucky and found a good setup, because the car was good out of the truck. I knew this track and I knew how fast I could go. I'm sure the others can go faster than they did this morning. You have to make many compromises here, because there are many concrete patches around here. If you are on a concrete patch, you have no grip. You have to make compromises with the setup and the line."

Another driver who undoubtedly benefited from past Lime Rock experience on Friday was Bill Auberlen in the No. 05 Alhadeff Motorsports/Motul/GRW.com.mx/enVista BMW M3. The two-time Rolex Series GT champion and winningest driver in Lime Rock history clocked the day's second-fastest time in the Sigalsport BMW machine with a lap at 56.392 sec. (97.673 mph). Auberlen is sharing the No. 05 machine with Matthew Alhadeff and the duo seeks its first Rolex Series victory of the season this weekend.

"Everything is looking okay," Auberlen said. "We were quick this morning and I think we have something more in store for tomorrow. My experience here helped me in the first session because I know where I'm going. I think some of the other guys are going to get quicker, but I think we can also make some changes and stay ahead of them."

TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs occupied the next two positions on the time charts. Kelly Collins turned the day's third-quickest lap at 56.501 sec. (97.485 mph) in the No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R. Collins and co-driver Paul Edwards have already won three races this season, at Mexico City, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway to lead the Rolex Series in wins thus far in 2006.

GT points co-leader Andy Lally was fourth quickest in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R with a lap at 56.590 sec. (97.332 mph). Lally and full-time co-driver Marc Bunting hold the GT points lead with five podium finishes in six feature races, including a victory in the VIR 400 last month. The duo is scheduled to share the No. 65 machine this weekend with RJ Valentine.

David Murry rounded out the top five on the practice charts with a lap at 56.869 sec. (96.854 mph) in the No. 80 Shoes for Crews/Synergy Racing Porsche GT3. Murry and co-driver Leh Keen are also looking for their first victory of the season this weekend, and have finished inside the class top eight in five consecutive races. The duo earned its best result of the 2006 campaign with a second-place outing at Mexico City in March.

AUBERLEN LEADS GRAND-AM CUP GS PRACTICE AT LIME ROCK

In addition to posting the second-quickest time in practice for the Rolex GT Challenge on Friday, Bill Auberlen also logged the fastest Friday time in preparation for Monday's Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport (GS) 200. Auberlen ran a best lap at 58.969 sec. (93.405 mph) in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he shares with Chris Gleason and has a chance to extend his Lime Rock Park record to seven victories if he is able to win both races on Monday.

"These BMWs are great," said Auberlen. "As you could see in the GT car and now in the Turner BMW M3, these cars are strong. The dry conditions will let the field improve on their speeds, but I'm confident that we can keep the No. 96 car right up there near the front."

Second-quickest was Andy Lally in the No. 49 Porsche of Lexington/TGP Scooters/Cobra Powersports Porsche 997 with a lap at 59.334 sec. (92.830 mph). Lally and his No. 49 co-driver, Spencer Pumpelly, head into Monday's race sharing the points lead in the Grand-Am Cup GS driver standings.

Patrick Long was third in Friday practice aboard the No. 81 Wheel Enhancement/Synergy Racing Porsche 997. Long--who also drives the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford in the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class--clocked a best lap at 59.546 sec. (92.500 mph) in the car he shares with Brent Martini.

The Grand-Am Cup GS 200, Round 5 of the 10-race 2006 season, is scheduled to take the green flag at 10:05 a.m. ET.

SALAMA TOPS GRAND-AM CUP ST PRACTICE ON "HOME TRACK"

Don Salama turned in a best practice lap at 1:01.184 (90.024 mph) in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i at the Grand-Am Cup Series facility nearest to his home in Boston, Mass. to top practice charts for Saturday's Grand-Am Cup Street Tuner (ST) 200.

Salama's co-driver is Will Turner of Newburyport, Mass. and the duo heads into Saturday looking for their first Grand-Am Cup race victory as teammates. Salama owns three Grand-Am Cup class victories, but has not visited Victory Lane since the 2003 event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, while Turner has yet to win in Grand-Am Cup competition.

"This is the home track for Turner Motorsport," said Salama. "Both Will and I are from Massachusetts and we've put a lot of miles in on this track. It's a very tough track, and with the package these BMWs have, it's going to be a challenge to keep with the lighter cars during the race. When the race starts, it's not about who had the fastest lap--it's about who can sustain that throughout the two-and-a-half hours."

Fresh from a second-place performance at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago, Matt Plumb posted a best lap at 1:01.512 (89.544 mph) in the No. 27 Southern Auto Auction/Acura Certified Acura RSX-S to hold down the second position on the practice charts. Plumb shares the Bill Fenton Motorsports machine with his brother, Hugh.

Kristian Skavnes was third-quickest in practice aboard the No. 111 Subaru/Leo's/Phoenix Performance Subaru Legacy with a lap at 1:01.684 (89.294 mph). Skavnes is entered to co-drive with ICY Phoenix teammates David Rosenblum and Chuck Hemmingson.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Paul Edwards , David Murry , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Kelly Collins , Kristian Skavnes , Andy Lally , Patrick Long , Will Turner , Chuck Hemmingson , Chris Gleason , Spencer Pumpelly , Don Salama , Brent Martini , Marc Bunting , David Rosenblum , Bill Fenton , Matt Plumb , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Matthew Alhadeff
Teams Turner Motorsport