ENGE READY FOR RETURN TO RACING When Tomas Enge looked at the 2007 schedule for the American Le Mans Series, he viewed the Utah Grand Prix as just another race. Oh sure, he won the inaugural event in 2006 at Miller ...
ENGE READY FOR RETURN TO RACING
When Tomas Enge looked at the 2007 schedule for the American Le Mans Series, he viewed the Utah Grand Prix as just another race. Oh sure, he won the inaugural event in 2006 at Miller Motorsports Park with Darren Turner but Enge had won before in the Series and throughout his career many, many times.
It all changed after the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, where Enge suffered numerous injuries in a crash while leading the GT2 class for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. After missing the following two rounds and being out of a race car for six weeks, Enge has returned to Petersen/White Lightning and its Ferrari F430 GT with a test session Saturday and Sunday in advance of this weekend's two-hour, 45- minute Series race.
"I didn't know what to expect and was pretty nervous a few days before the test," Enge said. "But things went fine. The first couple of laps I wanted to start slowly and build up speed. But I really couldn't hold myself back.
"My left hand is still a little weak but I am training quite a lot everyday," he added. "Once I get into the rhythm I will get better and better. For me, it is like the start of a new season. I am going to try and get back the things that I used to handle without any trouble."
A shattered left elbow was the most serious of Enge's injuries. He also suffered a contused lung, cracked ribs and severe bruising in the crash at St. Petersburg. At the time, he wasn't sure when he would be cleared to return to racing but started working immediately toward a goal of being back by the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As soon as he saw that his first goal was within reach, he worked even harder to accelerate his return.
"This has been my personal goal, this and the 24 Hours of Le Mans," Enge said. "The rehab went very, very well and was very hopeful I would be able to drive the car at Utah. I am sure that my determination to get back was a big help in my recovery. I did everything that I could have done."
Now all Enge wants to talk about is Saturday's race, where he is entered with Turner. Coincidentally the two drove to a GT1 victory last year in an Aston Martin DBR9, and they'll team again next month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin Racing. Needless to say they're not lacking in experience at Miller Motorsports Park and familiarity with each other.
"The more laps you did, the easier it became to understand the limits of the track, and yourself, so it ended up being lots of fun," Turner said. "It's quite complex but it's smooth, flowing and fast - when you get it right, it's immensely satisfying."
"I am really excited to be back in Salt Lake City and of course with Darren as well," Enge said. "Last year it was a new track for everybody. It was one of the most challenging tracks in the United States. Darren and I had a very good season last year and had loads of fun.
"For me, this weekend will be about getting back to the speed and racing," he added. "I'm not 100 percent where I need to be but I want to prepare myself and be fully up to speed before I get to Le Mans."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. It will air live on XM Satellite Radio's Sports Nation channel. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.