Photo by John Thawley Enge Returns for Surprise Visit to Two-Time American Le Mans Series Champs
HOUSTON, April 20, 2007 - Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing will start second in tomorrow's Lone Star Grand Prix of Houston. Dirk Müller (a native of Germany, living in Monaco) qualified the No.31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT with a time of one minute, 9.810 seconds around the 1.7-mile, 10-turn JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park here in Houston. The time was a narrow 0.391 seconds behind the pole winning Ferrari. Jarek Janis (Olomouc, Czech Republic) will be debuting with the Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team this weekend. Janis acquainted himself well with the Dale White (Bozeman, MT) managed Ferrari turning a quick time of 1:11.733 in a limited amount of laps in only his second American Le Mans Series start, his first in a Ferrari. Janis is replacing fellow countryman Tomas Enge (Czech Republic now living in Monaco). This is the third front-row starting spot in four races this season for the team.
Enge, who was seriously injured in an accident at St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 31, surprised the Nevada- based team on Thursday evening by arriving at the track unannounced. Enge, who had surgery to repair his shattered left elbow on April 6 in Indianapolis, received clearance this week from his doctor's to travel. Upon arriving he exchanged jokes and thanks with the team and then slid behind the wheel of the newly built Ferrari that Janis and Müller will race in tomorrow's two hour and 45-minute event. Enge, who just had the sutures removed from the elbow that has two plates holding the healing pieces together, is scheduled to return to racing for the June 16-17 24 Hours of Le Mans. He currently holds the all-time record for most consecutive pole positions earned at Le Mans with five and will race with the Aston Martin factory team there. He will return to Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing no later than the July 7 event at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
Dale White, Team Manager/Entrant: "We were very close to winning the pole position. But, we are still happy with second in qualifications. We think we have a very fast race car and Dirk and Jarek are working very well together. The whole team is gelling very well and that is very satisfying. We hope we have crossed the bridge and left the bad luck on the other side. That is left to be seen but we are certainly moving in the right direction."
Tomas Enge, Driver: "I wanted to surprise the team and I think I did it in a really positive way. I came to cheer for everybody on our team. I just hope I will bring good luck and that the 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Ferrari can win. Otherwise I am doing well. The doctor released me for flying so my first reaction was 'I have to go to Houston'. The elbow is getting better and better everyday. Everything is going positive. There is still pain but everyday I am getting better. I am very optimistic about getting back in the car as soon as possible. Salt Lake City is a big question mark. The race is exactly six weeks from the surgery. The doctors said they want me to heal for six to eight weeks or I will risk hurting it again and then being out all summer. I will meet the doctor again in two weeks time and we will see then if there is any possibility to race in Salt Lake or not. I am doing my best, all I can do, to be in the car as soon as possible."
Jarek Janis, Driver: "I am really happy to have an opportunity to drive with Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. It is a brilliant car, a brilliant team. I think it was quite close in the qualifying. If we keep going like this we have a big chance in the race. There are not many places to overtake here. If you come up on a guy you have to put him under pressure. Once he makes a mistake you have to act."
Dirk Müller, Driver: "It was awesome. I really want to thank the whole Petersen/White Lightning team. We were quick in all of the practices. I was really confident to get pole position but compliments to Mika. That was a very good lap time. I made a mistake on the last lap at the end of the long straight. I was in first gear instead of second. I had been in a rush to downshifting so I think that was the difference. I personally wanted to go for the pole position but that will have to wait. I am really looking forward to tomorrow and I am really enjoying Houston. I am liking the street circuits so I am looking forward to tomorrow."
The Grand Prix of Houston will start at 5:30 PM (CT), Saturday, April 21. The race can be seen on April 29 on CBS, at 1 PM (ET). Live timing and scoring of each on-track session and the race can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.