Enge Rockets to Utah Grand Prix GT2 Pole in Return from Injury Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Earns Second Class Pole Position of Season TOOELE, Utah, May 18, 2007 - If there were any questions remaining of Tomas Enge's...
Enge Rockets to Utah Grand Prix GT2 Pole in Return from Injury
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Earns Second Class Pole Position of Season
TOOELE, Utah, May 18, 2007 - If there were any questions remaining of Tomas Enge's health leading into today's qualifying for the Utah Grand Prix, the native of the Czech Republic quickly relegated those to the trash heap. Enge, who had his left elbow shattered while leading the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) on March 31 and underwent surgery on April 6, came back in resounding fashion by setting the fastest lap in the GT2 class qualifying session for tomorrow's American Le Mans Series race here at Miller Motorsports Park. Enge set his fastest lap of the week at two minutes, 43.226 seconds around the 4.5-mile, 24-turn circuit in the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT in the 20 minute session setting a track record for the class. Enge and teammate Darren Turner (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England) will take the green flag for the two hour and 45-minute event, Round Five of the American Le Mans Series season, at 5:05 pm (MT) tomorrow afternoon. Enge will start the event, handing the wheel over to Turner near the race's midpoint.
Today's lap by the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team shattered the previous track record of 2:44.024 set last year in a Ferrari F430 GT. The feat placed Enge in a very unique and envious position of simultaneously holding the track record for both the GT2 and the GT1 classes here at Miller Motorsports Park. The seven-time American Le Mans Series class pole winner turned the GT1 lap in 2006 in an Aston Martin DBR9. A year-ago, again teamed with Turner, the two went on to win the GT1 class.
The pole position was the second of the year, fifth career, for the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed operation in the American Le Mans Series. The first pole of 2007 came at St. Petersburg. The two-time American Le Mans Series championship-winning team has sat on the front row of the GT2 class four times this season (Sebring, St. Petersburg, Houston and Salt Lake City). The car has set fastest race lap at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Houston.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "Our goal was to get as close to the front as possible but we didn't want to add any pressure on Tomas. He had been very quick in practice and testing so we thought we'd let him qualify and, as usual, he didn't let us down. He did an excellent job. Tomas hasn't missed a beat since the accident. He put it all out there on the table. He'll run the first part of the race tomorrow and we'll turn it over to Darren. Darren has been right there with the times even though this is his first race in the Ferrari. We have a lot of confidence about tomorrow but it is still a long race. We have learned this year that anything can happen."
Tomas Enge, Driver: "I couldn't believe I could do this time. I want to thank Michael Petersen for bringing me back after the accident and the team for preparing the car so well. We were always fastest this year but haven't been able to put it all together; hopefully this weekend we can. This is quite a challenging track. You have to have the right line to find the right rhythm. And, you need to have a good car. We even made some changes right before qualifying to get the car as close as possible." (About his injuries) "I can't use my left hand properly, or completely like I normally would. So, if there is oversteer, it is quite difficult. I am a bit worried about that tomorrow in the race. But, I know that to win I can't make any mistakes. So, I am going to try and make no mistakes."
Darren Turner, Driver: "I am obviously delighted for Tomas to come back after the injury and put in that kind of performance in qualifying. It is obviously quite impressive. I think we are in reasonably good shape for the race. The second practice session today I started to get a good feeling for the car and I was pleased with my times on the old tires. In general, I think we have a good race pace. We have everything to play for tomorrow." (About the track conditions) "The track is getting grippier and grippier as the weekend goes on which is normal for most circuits but it seems to have more of an effect here than other tracks. The main thing in the race is that it is run quite late in the evening and the sunset is normally quite a drama. The circuit is reasonably difficult at the best of times but with the sun down low in your eyes for quite some time it makes the challenge even harder." (About the Ferrari F430 GT) "The most interesting thing for me is how sensitive the car is to setup changes. After free practice one, we made some subtle changes but it made a reasonably big difference to how the car performed. Maybe I just need to keep learning how to get the best out of the F430." (About the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing) "The team has made me feel very welcome and given me plenty of time to get up to speed. Hopefully we can repay all the team's hard work with a win tomorrow."
The Utah Grand Prix will take the green flag at 5:05 pm (MT) on Saturday, May 19. Television coverage will be provided by CBS Sports at May 20 at 1 pm (ET). The event can be heard live on the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, available through the American Le Mans Series web site, or on XM Satellite Radio on the Sports Nation channel (Channel 144) from 7 to 10 pm (ET).