Daytona 24: Porsche first qualifying report

German Wolf Henzler Grabs GT Pole For 24 Hours of Daytona as Porsche GT3 Cup Cars Lock in Top Five Position For Weekend Race DAYTONA BEACH, FL - February 3 - After turning the fastest time in morning practice, Wolf Henzler, of Nuertingen,...

German Wolf Henzler Grabs GT Pole For 24 Hours of Daytona as Porsche GT3 Cup Cars Lock in Top Five Position For Weekend Race

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - February 3 - After turning the fastest time in morning practice, Wolf Henzler, of Nuertingen, Germany, piloted his #71 Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer around the Daytona International Speedway road course/oval combination more than one half-a-second faster than the rest of the field to capture the GT pole for Saturday's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Henzler, who won the tough and prestigious Porsche Michelin Supercup Championship in 2004 by finishing first at most those events in a similar Porsche, has had a terrific run in the United States since last year, when he won two poles and both races in the Porsche Michelin Supercup races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (on the Formula I weekend), and swept to victory after winning both poles at two SCCA Speed World Challenge races (Infineon and Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway). He also teamed with Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister to win Petit Le Mans last fall in an Alex Job Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Road Atlanta - his first endurance event.

"While we are pleased to win the pole at this great event, it is not as important as the pole in the sprint races I am used to," said Henzler, who will be sharing the driving chores with the team owner's son, Dominik Farnbacher, as well as Shawn Price, from Santa Clara, Calif., and Pierre Ehret, from Santa Rosa, Calif.

"I have learned from Petit Le Mans that reliability, race strategy, and smart driving in a long race is more important that the pole," said Henzler.

Second in GT is the TPC Porsche GT3 Cup entry led by team owner Michael Levitas, former Rolex 24 GT winner Randy Pobst, Spencer Pompelly, Canadian Jean-Francois Dumoulin (in the winning SGS Doncaster Porsche at last year's Rolex 24), and John Littlefield, while the fastest of the Kevin Buckler/TRG Porsches, driven by Buckler, Andy Lally, Carlos de Quesada, Hugh Plumb and Marc Bunting was third.

The Flying Lizard Motorsport team, which finished second in GT a year ago in its first Rolex 24, with its familiar driver line-up including Porsche factory driver Patrick Long - the only American factory driver currently working for Porsche - along with Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty, Lonnie Pechnik and Seth Neiman, qualified fourth, while the Baldwin-Tafel Racing Porsche, with veterans Jack Baldwin, Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, Jim Tafel, and defending Grand-Am Cupchampion Craig Stanton, was fifth.

The top five GT qualifiers - in positions 26 - 30 overall, have locked in their times and starting positions for Saturday's race; the rest of the cars have to participate in qualifying on Friday to secure their place in class and overall.

In the Daytona Prototype class, the #58 Red Bull Brumos Porsche Fabcar of David Donohue/Darren Law/Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr qualified 14th overall, while the #59 team car with drivers Hurley Haywood/J.C. France/Mike Rockenfeller/Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas will have to qualify Friday as Bernhard hit the tire barrier and flipped the car at turn #1 during morning practice after the throttle stuck open while he was coming down the front straightaway. Timo was unhurt, but the car needed major repair, and the team did not make the afternoon qualifying session.

The third Porsche-powered Fabcar, the Money Network/Performance Friction entry - a former Brumos race car - driven by Tim, Josh and Jake Vargo from Tennessee and Brady Refenning, from Stuart, Florida, is 23rd overall.

The 2005 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will be televised live by The Speed Channel television network, with more than 14 hours of coverage starting at noon Eastern time on Saturday, February 5 (noon to 7:00 PM, 8:00 - 11:00 PM; then 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM on Sunday). The race starts at noon (one hour earlier than previous years) and will end at noon on Sunday, February 6. Also, the more than 110 affiliates of the Motor Racing Network (MRN) nationally will provide coverage on the radio - check local listings for time in your area.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have qualifying information for the Rolex 24 for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" and "24 Hours of Daytona" to find the Rolex 24 updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on "news").

The official coverage for all the classes at the Rolex 24 and the Grand-Am series is the official Grand-Am web site (www.grandamerican.com), where fans can follow the qualifying sessions and the race with live timing and scoring on- line.

-porsche-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Carlos de Quesada , Jon Fogarty , Robin Liddell , Randy Pobst , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Andy Lally , Jack Baldwin , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , David Donohue , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Jean-Francois Dumoulin , Andrew Davis , Hugh Plumb , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Marc Bunting , Seth Neiman , Brady Refenning , J.C. Fra , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Jake Vargo , Dominik Farnbacher , Shawn Price , Alex Job