Wolf Henzler from Nurtingen, near Stuttgart in Germany, took his first GT pole position of the 2007 season yesterday in a superb last-minute display of speed and intelligent thinking. Unfortunately he was prevented from converting that success...
Wolf Henzler from Nurtingen, near Stuttgart in Germany, took his first GT pole position of the 2007 season yesterday in a superb last-minute display of speed and intelligent thinking. Unfortunately he was prevented from converting that success to a race win after a clash with a competitor in the race. Despite sustaining damage to the Porsche 997, the Tafel Racing team did a tremendous job to repair it and Henzler's team mate, Eric Lux, was able to re-join the race and be classified (24th) at the finish.
For this round of the Grand-Am Rolex Series the Daytona Prototype and GT classes were separated for both qualifying and the race itself. Henzler explains how he approached the 15-minute qualifying session which was held in a tightly scheduled day, soon after the end of final practice.
"We had tried something with the suspension in practice which didn't work so we stopped running early to give us time to make the change for qualifying. We got out just in time but I then had a small problem with fuel pressure so had to come back into the pits again. This was quickly fixed but as I went out again the session was black-flagged. More minutes lost! I got into the line to leave the pits but there must have been 15 cars in front of me and we only had two minutes of the session left. A lap takes about 1 minute 55 seconds so I knew I had time for one lap only. I had to do it on that lap or not at all, and hope to try and find a bit of space amongst the traffic. I slowed down on the straight to create a gap and then went for it. I was really on the limit but it was a perfect lap and I crossed the start/finish line with four seconds to spare before the checkered flag."
The German, who is racing only in North America this year, led the GT-only 400 kilometre race for the first 18 of the eventual 76 laps, working hard to keep the Mazda of Tremblay/Ham behind him. As Wolf said, "I knew the Mazda was strong over distance, so I was trying hard to save my rear tires but he was very close behind me. After about 20 minutes my tires started to go off and I was losing grip and went wide two or three times. The Mazda tried to dive down inside me in Turn 10 and we ended up side by side, with me on the outside -- still on the track but right on the edge -- and we touched and I got pushed onto the grass.
"Unfortunately there was a big dip in the grass and the car jumped in the air. When it landed I was sideways and hit the tire wall. The car wasn't in a good state, with damage to the radiator, front fender and rear suspension. The Tafel mechanics took it behind the wall and worked on it for an hour, doing a fantastic job to get it back into the race.
"I'm disappointed and fed up with the outcome because I don't think there was any need for what happened. But, we must look at the positives and our pole position was a very good one for the whole team. We know the car is very good, so I must now work to make sure we keep at the front for the whole race."
Wolf Henzler's next two races for Tafel Racing will be on the same weekend in May. The fifth round of the American Le Mans Series will be at the Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 19 and Henzler will then fly immediately to California for the fifth round of the Grand-Am Series at the Mazda Speedway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 20.