MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 15, 2005) – Wolf Henzler, of Nuertingen, Germany, carried over his record-shattering times from Friday into Saturday’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT qualifying session, earning the top spot for Sunday’s season-ending race after ripping off a 1:30.387 (89.137 mph) in the No. 55 Applied Materials/Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The mark was 1.1 seconds better than the previous best of 1:31.469 he set a year ago.-30-
Max Papis, of Miami, Fla., appears to be Cadillac’s best shot at catching Porsche in the SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine – qualifying second with a 1:30.539 (88.987 mph) in his No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/Bose Cadillac CTS-V. Mike McCann, of North Canton, Ohio, ensured three different marquees in the top three spots for Sunday’s race as he turned a 1:30.632 (88.895 mph) in his No. 82 McCann Plastics/K&N Filters Dodge Viper.
Conditions were nearly perfect for the 20-minute qualifying session, as temperatures warmed into the upper 50s and winds remained calm. However, overnight and early morning showers dampened the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca course and washed it virtually clean, leaving less grip.
“There was not a lot of grip today because there was a little water on the curbs,” Henzler said. “Yesterday there was a lot of sand on the track. So, the track conditions ended up being about the same.
“This year it was a little easier for us because we drove here last year and it’s a good track for the Porsche. The combination of the corners, especially the corkscrew, compared to the other cars, I am very fast.”
Who will join Henzler on the front row in tomorrow’s Championship-deciding finale wasn’t lost on the 30 year old driver.
“Max Papis is second in the Cadillac and we are fighting with Cadillac for the Championship. Tomorrow, first and foremost, I will try to win the race, and that will help win the manufacturers’ championship for Porsche.”
Porsche currently holds a 57-54 advantage over Cadillac in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine.
Papis, who has battled an array of peculiar circumstances throughout the year, including a first-lap, first-turn spin when leading the last round at Mosport International Raceway, said he was glad to have Cadillac back near the top for the year’s finale.
“It was really important for Team Cadillac to qualify on the first row, and I gave 200 percent,” said Papis. “We have put my CTS-V in position to have a very good race, and I’m very proud of the effort that everyone on the team made. Now what counts is the race.”
McCann, the 2004 SPEED GT Rookie of the Year, has proven to be a solid qualifier in the past, but third is a personal best.
“It was a handful and it wasn’t pretty,” McCann said. “I used every inch of the track but I got it done. I like this place. My third trip here and I usually do well here in qualifying. I have had issues during the races but I have always qualified well here.”
Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., will start fourth in the No. 07 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 Cup, and Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., will begin in the fifth spot in his No. 6 Banner Engineering Corvette C6.
Though he qualified 12th, Cadillac’s Andy Pilgrim, of Delray Beach, Fla., has 225 points and can clinch his first SPEED World Challenge Drivers’ Championship by finishing fourth or better. He is trailed by defending series champ Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., who has 217 points, Robin Liddell (212) and Henzler, who is still in contention with 205.
The SPEED GT finale will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel, beginning at 2 p.m. (PDT).
For live timing and scoring during Sunday’s race, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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