NO BIRTHDAY BONUS FOR HENZLER AT ST PETERSBURG St Petersburg, FL, 6th April 2008. It was all looking good for a second consecutive GT2 victory for Wolf Henzler and his team mate, Jorg Bergmeister, yesterday but fate decided otherwise. ...
NO BIRTHDAY BONUS FOR HENZLER AT ST PETERSBURG
St Petersburg, FL, 6th April 2008. It was all looking good for a second consecutive GT2 victory for Wolf Henzler and his team mate, Jorg Bergmeister, yesterday but fate decided otherwise. Victory at the second round of the American Le Mans Series at St. Petersburg in Florida would have been a great birthday present for the German but, as he says, some days you have good luck and some days bad.
While leading the class, a late-race incident involving a prototype left Bergmeister unsighted and he made contact with the car, damaging the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche's radiator. Jorg limped on for a few further laps but had to pit five minutes before the checkered flag and dropped rapidly down the classification. The #45 was eventually classified in 9th place in the GT2 class.
It was very hot and humid in Florida and the heat affected several of the drivers and their cars throughout the course of the race. As Wolf notes, events went wrong for one of his competitors right from the very start of the race.
"Before we had even started racing the Aston Martin GT2 stopped on the track so we had to keep in single file for some extra formation laps instead of making a proper start. That made it easy for me to control the start and stay in p1 as Salo was behind instead of beside me.
"We drove away and the gap between us opened and closed according to traffic. After 24 minutes we arrived behind the Ford GT and I chose the wrong line and got stuck behind him. Salo drove around the outside, going into last corner, and passed me. He then had a bad exit to the next corner because of the same, slower car and I was right next to Salo but he blocked me badly, almost pushing me into the wall. My front wheel was next to his rear wheel but we didn't make contact. I lifted so as not to cause any damage or have a problem so early in the race. Then, after about 40 minutes, Salo pitted early so we were back in the lead. We were unlucky with the caution period that came just before the hour mark and almost made a lap over our competitors, but not quite."
With Bergmeister now at the wheel, all was going well and the German Lizard drivers were leading the class -- once the electrical problem had sidelined their nearest rival, the #62 Ferrari of Jaime Melo. At the restart after another caution period, Tafel Racing's Dirk Muller overtook the #45 Porsche because of the traffic and slower cars.
Wolf explains what then happened. "Jorg was running in a close second when, 15 minutes before the end, the #20 prototype had an accident. There were no yellow flags and it happened around a blind corner so Jorg couldn't see the car and couldn't avoid the contact. It damaged the radiator and we had to try and keep the temperatures from getting too high. There was a full course caution because of the incident and he stayed out, driving slow to keep temperatures down, but then had to pit and stop five minutes before the end. We finished 9th which was very frustrating.
"The damage to our car wasn't Jorg's fault, just bad luck. The Porsche was great and we had a good car to fight for the win so this makes me look forward even more to the coming races as we have a great race car."
Henzler's next race will be round three of the American Le Mans Series on Saturday, April 19 from the famed Long Beach street circuit.