GRAND AM NEWS: Henzler Takes Second Consecutive Lime Rock Pole for Grand-Am GT Classic

Photo by John Thawley LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2007) – For the second consecutive Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve GT class qualifying session at Lime Rock Park, German racer Wolf Henzler was the fastest qualifier and will start from the pole position in Monday’s Grand-Am GT Classic (SPEED, 3 p.m. ET).

Driving the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 for Tafel Racing, Henzler broke his own Rolex Series GT qualifying track record by more than a second-and-a-half with a lap at 53.925 seconds (102.142 mph) to secure his first pole of the season and the sixth of his Rolex Series career. Henzler and co-driver Eric Lux are still looking for their first victory of the season.

“It took us a lot to get on pole,” said Henzler. “It was very, very close to the Mazda. We already saw in the practice this morning that there were five or six cars within one tenth of a second, and we also were very close. What I needed for the pole was just a very, very good lap with no mistakes and this is what I did on my fourth lap. It was just a perfect lap. The team and the mechanics made some small changes to the car, which were very good. They just gave me a car to get on pole. Everything needed to be 100 percent to get on pole because it’s such a hard competition. On Monday, we need more luck than at VIR and Laguna that nobody runs into my car and hits us or spins us out of the race. The other thing is good strategy and good pit stops, which I think we will do. The team is very good now.”

Starting alongside Henzler on the front row will be Rolex Series GT points co-leader Nick Ham in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/Mazda RX-8 for SpeedSource. Ham clocked a best lap at 53.929 seconds (102.134 mph), missing the pole position by just four-thousandths of a second. Nevertheless, it was the fifth consecutive front-row qualifying performance for the No. 70 machine and the car has not started outside of the GT top-three in any of the six races this season. Henzler and co-driver Sylvain Tremblay look to extend their lead in the point standings with another victory in Monday’s race, which would be the team’s third of the season.

"It was just a really good lap,” Ham said. “It was just a qualifying lap. Thanks to all the team for giving me a car that was just really fast. We worked every session on trying to improve, trying to make it more drivable and the Hoosier sticker tires were just fantastic. Our RX-8 is a great car. It really likes this circuit. It’s not a really powerful car, but this is a momentum track and it just flies around here. It’s a really good track for us. We just need patience and, hopefully, waiting for the race to come back to us. My job is to just stay out of trouble and give Sylvain a car that he can take to the checkered flag. It’s just being careful. We still have the points lead, so we don’t have to take any chances. Hopefully, it’ll be a tire wear issue like some of the other tracks, so the race will come back to us.”

Kelly Collins qualified third in the No. 07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R with a lap at 54.005 seconds (101.991 mph). Collins and co-driver Paul Edwards have finished inside the class top four in three of five starts this season, but are still looking to bring the Pontiac GXP.R and the Banner Racing team their first victories in Rolex Series competition. Collins and Edwards finished second last year in a Pontiac GTO.R for TRG.

“We had a great car right off of the trailer,” Collins said. “The first practice I was really pumped for the weekend. Maybe we dialed ourselves out a little. I gave it all I had in qualifying, taking the car in deep and flying down through the last turn. It was the first time we put on new sneakers [tires] all weekend so I wasn’t quite sure how far I could take it. We do know that we have a great car on used tires and that will definitely benefit us in the race on Monday.”

Leighton Reese made it a second-row sweep for Banner Racing with a lap at 53.059 seconds (101.889 mph) in the No. 06 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R. Reese and co-driver Tim Lewis Jr. are also searching for their first Rolex Series GT victory and are looking to improve upon their previous season best result of fourth in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Drew Staveley ensured that the three Pontiac GXP.Rs in the field will start inside the top five with a fifth-best qualifying result in the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R. Staveley posted a best lap at 54.306 seconds (101.425 mph) in the car he is sharing with co-driver Mark Pavan. Staveley and Pavan finished fifth in last weekend’s U.S. Sports Car Invitational presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, which was Staveley’s first start of the season and the third of the year for Pavan. The top-nine qualifiers posted laps within one second of Henzler’s pole-winning time.

« TEAM NEWS: Banner Pontiacs qualify 3rd and 4th for Lime Rock Grand-Am GT race | Main | SCCA NEWS: Altenburg Continues to Lead SPEED Touring Car Practice at Lime Rock »

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