Points Leader Henzler Captures Porsche Michelin Supercup Pole For Saturday's Event at Indy; Patrick Long Top American Qualifier INDIANAPOLIS, June 18 -- Wolf Henzler, from Nurtingen, Germany, who has won the first four rounds of the Porsche ...
Points Leader Henzler Captures Porsche Michelin Supercup Pole For Saturday's Event at Indy; Patrick Long Top American Qualifier
INDIANAPOLIS, June 18 -- Wolf Henzler, from Nurtingen, Germany, who has won the first four rounds of the Porsche Michelin Supercup series, has qualified on the pole in his Infineon Team Farnbacher Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for Round #5 of the series to run Sa turday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the United States Grand Prix Weekend.
Henzler, who has won a round of the Supercup series here at Indianapolis each of the last two years, narrowly missed the championship a year ago, finishing second in the points. He is determined to win the series this year, and he feels the difference is being with a new team that has the budget to do extensive testing.
"My new team, Infineon Team Farnbacher, has spent lots of time doing testing and set-up for the season, and my race car has been perfect for the first four events. We all have to get used to the new Michelin tires that were developed especially for this w eekend, but cooler temperatures Saturday and Sunday should give us a better grip," said Henzler, who noted that slippery conditions on the track led to a multitude of spinouts and blown corners during both the Friday practice and qualifying sessions
Guest driver Patrick Long, from Westlake Village, Calif., who is fresh from his GT win at Le Mans in the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, qualified second after working on his adjustment to ABS brakes after a weekend of no ABS. He set his fast lap with two-thirds of the way through the 45-minute qualifying session.
"At an endurance race, you settle into a rhythm and save the equipment so you can finish the race. At a Supercup event, you only have 70 kilometers to the checkered flag, so you have to go 10/10ths right from the beginning. If you qualify badly or have a bad lap, you have no chance to even finish in the top ten," he said.
Supercup Dirk Werner, from Kissenbrueck, Germany, a newcomer this year to the Supercup series, qualified third. Werner is having a good rookie season, having scored second-place points at Monaco last month and currently sitting in fourth place in the poin t standings. Tim Bergmeister, from Langenfield, Germany, and brother of American Le Mans Series star Jorg Bergmeister, qualified fourth, with Christian Menzel, from Kelberg, Germany, former Alex Job Racing ALMS pilot fifth.
Patrick Huisman, from Bornerboek, The Netherlands, qualified sixth, and also said the tires will take some getting used to. Huisman, who pointed out that a new funnel system to insure that the intake gets fresh air, not hot engine air, has improved times so far on all the circuits, but the extreme heat and slick conditions have not been a good match for the new tires.
"Michelin developed these tires based on last year's cool conditions, and track temperatures are way up today," said Huisman, who thinks times will be quicker tomorrow.
Klaus Graf, from Dornhan, Germany, who has been hired by BAM Racing in NASCAR to run both Sears Point (infineon Raceway) next week and Watkins Glen in August, qualified ninth, and says the competition in the Porsche Michelin Supercup rivals any series he h as driven in.
"Although I am looking forward to being the first European driver to race in NASCAR, and I enjoyed being a factory driver for Panoz in the American Le Mans Series, I have never raced harder than I do in this very competitive series," he said.
Mark Taylor, originally from England, now racing in the IRL Series from the Panther Racing stables here in Indianapolis, qualified down in the field (17th), but was pleased with his first ride in a Porsche.
"I raced at Indy for the whole month of May in preparation for the Indy 500, but this race runs the track backwards, plus the road course makes a lap completely different. But I enjoy driving the car, and I think I will go faster before the weekend is out ," said Taylor.
Of the eight American drivers who are on the invited entrant list (running for position, but not for points), Tim Rosengrant, of Cresco, Penn., prepared by Kelly-Moss Racing, qualified 18th; Jim Collier, from Dallas, in The Racer's Group car, was 19th; and Joe Kunz, from Laguna Beach, Calif., was 20th despite losing a door during the practice session.
Round #5 and #6 for the world's fastest single-marque international sports car series will take place with two 16-lap races on the 2.605-mile road circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first race starts at 3 p.m. (EST, Indy time) Saturday, June 1 9, with the second race at 10:40 a.m. Sunday, June 20
All the competitors will be driving evenly matched 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, purpose-built racecars manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The 2004 model features furt her improvements to driver safety and comfort as well as measures to avoid over-revving or overheating of the engine.
Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtain ed through the ticket office.