Tomas Enge's penalisation in the ALMS race at Mid-Ohio and following release from the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning team forced by Ferrari has continued with disagreement of Enge's manager. Mr. Antonin Charouz has sent a letter to the IMSA,...
Tomas Enge's penalisation in the ALMS race at Mid-Ohio and following release from the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning team forced by Ferrari has continued with disagreement of Enge's manager. Mr. Antonin Charouz has sent a letter to the IMSA, the governing body of the ALMS, that contains a protest against steps that were done by the stewards of the race. Enge has got support from various persons from motor sport world including Aston Martin Racing boss George Howard-Chappell.
Antonin Charouz has checked all circumstances including video footage of the collisions between Tomas Enge and Mika Salo at Mid-Ohio that were used as a reason for the termination of Enge's contract with the American team. Charouz has backed up Enge this time although he was angry because Enge had been on probation after previous Lime Rock incidents and he also says that Enge sometimes hurts himself.
He thinks that Enge is not responsible for the two collisions that happened at the weekend. "It is only my opinion but I have been racing for 30 years, so I should know what I am saying," explains Charouz. "Anyone can make his or hew own opinion from the video available on the Internet site YouTube.com. Tomas is not a saint but he could not have done anything with it this time." Enge was following Salo very closely right from the start. The Finn was driving a Ferrari F430 of the Risi Competizione and the Czech driver was been behind the wheel of the same car of the Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning team and they were fighting for the lead of the GT2 class.
Two faster prototypes were approaching the fighting duo after approximately 40 minutes. Salo left a space for Enge when all for cars were together, ho probably though that the prototypes would use it. Enge immediately took the chance. However, the Finn closed the door and slowed down. Both Ferraris touched but only slightly -- bumper to bumper. Salo moved away few corners later only to crash crashed into Enge's driver side at the next corner. Both drivers were called in for a penalty -- Salo got 2 minutes, Enge 5 minutes because he had been on a probation since the Lime Rock and the stewards basically did not checked who was in fault.
The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning team released Enge from the contract after the race given the fact that Enge had not observed the condition not to cause an accident. "And this is the heart of the matter. Tomas simply did not cause the accident. My information is that the team released him after pressure from Ferrari. Their bosses were not happy that two drivers in Ferraris fight each other and other car wins. Their view is quite understandable but my view is that Tomas took the rap from them unfairly. I am now waiting for a reply to my letters in whose I protested against the treatment of the matter. I am very happy that the Scuderia Ecosse team, Tomas race for them in the FIA GT championship, have taken very fair stand and have been keeping Tomas on board for the Spa 24 hours and following races of the championship. Tomas has got equally strong support from the team tyre supplier Pirelli," continues manager.
Even Jean Todt, the CEO of Ferrari and head of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, has been following the case. Enge and Salo together with their respective managers should meet Ferrari representatives in Spa where the famous Gran Turismo endurance race takes place and both drivers compete there. All sides want to thoroughly check all circumstances regarding Mid-Ohio incidents. "I think that everything should be clear after this meeting including Tomas's possible return to the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning team," concludes Charouz.
Antonin Charouz, Enge's manager: "First of all I want to apologise to all press and fans that they had to wait few days for our response. It was caused by the fact that the situation was changing every day and sometimes even every hour. I would like to add to my remarks above that I must confess that I am also partly responsible for some Tomas's unorderliness. I am not managing only Tomas and other drivers but I have been involved in other businesses and this is the reason why I am sometime not able to fully dedicate my time to my drivers. Moreover, Tomas is not a saint. However, Mid-Ohio is different story. Tomas had been on probation since Lime Rock and the officials had ordered him not cause any avoidable incident. It was not the case at Mid-Ohio. Tomas is innocent. This is why we have sent a protest to the IMSA that govern the American Le Mans Series. I have been pleased with reactions of people who know Tomas very good. He has got support not only from Scuderia Ecosse but for example also from Peter Baron, the boss of the Samax team. He called me that it was foolish and confirmed previous offers for Grand-Am. We got a call from an IndyCar team, they are interested to hire Tomas. In the same spirit phoned George Howard-Chappell, the Aston Martin Racing boss, who has been working with Tomas since 2002. He not only expressed his support but also offered to Tomas a return to his team for the rest of the season. I am really happy but I can not sign another agreement before this case is definitely closed. In my opinion, Salo should loose his licence for his behaviour. Any driver, who crash into other car on a purpose and even admit it in public, should not be on a track. This is my personal view. I am not trying to vindicate Tomas's scrapes from the past. We have a meeting today in Spa."
Tomas Enge: "It is sad. Unfortunately, there are situations in the sport when the decisive thing is not the performance on the track but something completely different. I have been feeling bad that the finger was put on me. Actually, it is quite funny that we had got along very well with Mika before the incident. I must say big thanks to George Howard-Chappell and Peter Baron for their perfect support. I have got similar reactions from drivers around the world who saw the race at Mid-Ohio. Of course, I can not forget Stewart Roden from the Scuderia Ecosse who has kept me in the team, so I can race already this weekend at Spa."
George Howard-Chappell, team principal, Aston Marting Racing: "Tomas has been always a big professional whenever he raced for Prodrive. It started with our Ferrari 550 Maranello project and followed with factory Aston Martin DBR9. We always have had best relationship both with Tomas and his manager Antonin Charouz. It has been the same since 2002. There is no reason to not continue in the future. Tomas is an exceptionally competitive driver and also a perfect team player."