Photo by John Thawley Thursday, May 17, 2007 - SAMAX Motorsport will field a strong line up of drivers for Round 5 of the 14-race Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series held this weekend at Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Team principal Peter Baron is pleased to have regular driver Patrick Carpentier back in action after missing the last race in Virginia, and Ryan Dalziel returning for his third start of the 2007 season with the South Florida-based team.
"This promises to be a good weekend," said Baron. "These two drivers worked well together in the season opener at Daytona and Ryan proved in the last race that he can raise his level of intensity when the occasion arises. I am hard pressed to find a better duo for this Sunday's U.S. Sports Car Invitational 250-mile race. We are currently third in the standings and we are seriously thinking that we can close the gap to second-place or even move up in the team standings."
Carpentier is returning to the fold after taking time off to take care of a family medical emergency involving his young daughter. "I was disappointed to miss the VIR race, but I had to be with my family," said the Canadian driver who lives in Las Vegas. "Symptoms of a serious illness were affecting my daughter, and she was scheduled to start a series of medical tests during that weekend. My mind was not at all on racing!"
Late on Tuesday afternoon, Carpentier was relieved to finally receive good news from the doctors. According to them, she is not afflicted by any serious illness. "I had to do what needed to be done, but I'm sure glad to be back racing, especially at Laguna Seca. This one of my favorite tracks and I have done well here in the past. With my mind at ease, I am eager to get back behind the wheel. With Ryan (Dalziel) on board for this weekend, we stand a good chance for a podium finish. He is a very quick driver, but he is also very respectful of others on track. We should do well," concluded the French Canadian driver who won back-to-back Champ Car races at Laguna in 2003 & 2004.
Ryan Dalziel, from Scotland, will be making his third start of the season with the #11 SAMAX Pontiac Riley. The Orlando, Florida resident was one of the four drivers on the team that finished second in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and he also picked-up a fourth-place finish in the last race in Virginia with Jean-Francois Dumoulin. The 25-year old, who is enjoying another weekend off from his Champ Car schedule, will be making his 18th start in a Daytona Prototype.
"I guess I didn't do too bad of a job at VIR since the team called me back for this race," said Dalziel. "We ran a strong race at VIR and missed the podium by just a bit. I am happy to race with Patrick this weekend and maybe we can give SAMAX its second podium of the year. Patrick has had a lot of track time in the car and he is a Laguna Master. I feel that the SAMAX team has improved a lot since I first raced their car at Daytona."
Jean-Francois Dumoulin, who replaced Carpentier at Virginia, will be back in his regular drive in the separate GT class 400K-race on Saturday afternoon.
SAMAX Motorsport is currently in third place in the Team Standings after four races with 108 points, 19 markers from SunTrust Racing in first place. The SAMAX Pontiac Riley finished second in the Daytona opener in late January, missed a Top-10 finish in the caution-free Mexico City race in early March, and rebounded with a couple of fourth-place finishes at Homestead-Miami and Virginia.
Rolex Daytona Prototype action starts Friday with two practice sessions. A 30-minute practice session is scheduled for Friday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, followed by a 15-minute Daytona Prototype qualifying period at 11:05 a.m. (PT). The U.S. Sports Car Invitational 250, a scheduled 112-lap race, will start at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday with live television coverage airing on SPEED.