Daytona 24: SAMAX Motorsports Thursday report

Patrick Carpentier Qualifies the SAMAX Motorsport Pontiac Riley in Fifth Place Thursday January 25, 2007. - Las Vegas resident Patrick Carpentier qualified the ...

Patrick Carpentier Qualifies the SAMAX Motorsport Pontiac Riley in Fifth Place

Thursday January 25, 2007. - Las Vegas resident Patrick Carpentier qualified the #11 CITGO/ SAMAX Pontiac Riley in fifth place on Thursday, lapping the track in 1 minute 43.959 seconds. The Canadian driver secured the inside of the third row on the grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the 15-race Grand-American Rolex Sports Car Series 2007 schedule. The 15-minute session was red flagged for more than half the period after an incident involving several cars on the first lap.

"The car ran great and except for water in the race line of corner one, track conditions were perfect," said Carpentier. "We could have improved from fifth place, but on the last lap I was hit by a car and had to lift. I'm happy with the results because the competition is very strong. The best strategy for the race will be to stay out of trouble, avoid damaging the mechanical components and save enough fuel to give us an advantage at some point. The most important thing though, will be to stay in touch with the leaders. I'm sure that's what Peter (team owner Peter Barron) will be telling us throughout the race."

Tomas Enge, of the Czech Republic, encountered problems with the #7 SAMAX Pontiac Riley during the session. Enge avoided the first lap melee caused by water seeping on the track after the morning showers, and had to run onto the grass. He made it back to the pits, but the SAMAX crew was not allowed by rule to check the car. Enge will skip Friday's qualifying and will start at the back of the grid.

"It's disappointing to start at the back, but fortunately, it is a long race," said lead driver Tomas Enge. "It will take several laps but I'm confident we will rejoin the lead pack in the early stages of the race. There was an accident in the first corner and to avoid it, I went off-track and picked-up grass in the radiators. Since the team could not touch the car, we did not want to go out again because there was maybe six of seven minutes left in the session. We could have overheated the engine."

Alex Gurney led the charge at the wheel of his Pontiac Riley to grab the pole for the 45th annual 24-Hour edition. The Californian traveled the 3.56-mile (5.73 Km) Daytona International Speedway road course in 1 minute 43.475 seconds for a lap speed of 123.856 mph (199.326 Km/h). Gurney edged the Pontiac Riley of Italian driver Max Angelelli by only five thousandths of a second. The two drivers will lead a combined field of 70 Daytona Prototypes and GT sports cars at the start of Saturday's race. Third quickest was Marc Goossen of Belgium. He will share the second row with Mark Donohue.

Over the course of the twice around the clock race, Carpentier will share duties in the CITGO/SAMAX car with Milka Duno, from Caracas, Venezuela, English driver Darren Manning and Scotland's Ryan Dalziel. As for the second SAMAX entry, Enge will divide his time at the wheel with Chris Festa, from Atlanta, Georgia, Roger Yasukawa of West Hollywood, California, Christian Montanari, of the Republic of San Marino and Kris Szekeres of Hartland, Michigan.

Following Friday's early morning practice, a final qualifying session is scheduled at 11:40 a.m. for those who failed to qualify on Thursday. The green flag for the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be waved Saturday at 1:30 p.m. SPEED and FOX Sports will combine to offer 15 hours of race coverage from Daytona.

-credit: samax motorsports

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Milka Duno , Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Tomas Enge , Darren Manning , Patrick Carpentier , Max Angelelli , Roger Yasukawa , Christian Montanari , Mark Donohue