Carpentier pleased with performance at Daytona UPDATE Photos of Patrick Carpentier testing at Daytona by Brian Cleary.
01/07/07 Montréal, QC - Patrick Carpentier left Florida pleased with the team's performance following two days of on-track activities during the Daytona Test Days. Over 60 racing machines, including 25 Daytona Prototypes, took part in the final of the three pre-season Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series test sessions. Unfortunately, the #11 SAMAX Pontiac Riley missed the final day on Saturday following a mechanical failure that occurred during the late stages of the Friday night session, the only one run under the lights.
It was during the night session on Friday that Carpentier performed best ending the session in second place. The Canadian driver, now living in Las Vegas, held first place in the charts before handing over the seat to his teammate. However, two-time Rolex Series class champion Bill Auberlen logged the quickest lap late in the session to best Carpentier's time by only one tenth of a second. While on track, Carpentier's times were right up there in the Top-5 in every session he was part of.
"I'm very pleased with the performance of the team during the two days we tested the Pontiac Riley," said Mecachrome-backed Carpentier. "Each time I was on the track, we were constantly in the Top-5. SAMAX Motorsport always hands us a competitive car and I'm happy with that fact. During the only night session, we finished second overall. This is a good sign as half the race is run under the lights and oftentimes, it's during that period that the Daytona 24 is won or lost. I think we can do very well in the season opener. It's unfortunate that we had to miss the final day, but we accomplished almost everything the team had planned. I can't wait for the start of the season."
Even though Carpentier did well during his two days, his name never appeared in the results sheets, leaving more than one skeptic wondering what was what. Next to the #11, SAMAX Pontiac Riley driven by Carpentier appears the word TBA. It seems that SAMAX Motorsport did not want to unveil its Daytona 24 driver roster as details have yet to be finalized with some of its drivers. In pre-season testing, teams have no obligation to divulge the names of their drivers, but could have entered the names of the ones already under contract. The situation led some teams questioning the availability of Carpentier, and even arouse the curiosity of the track announcer.
"I was approached by two top teams inquiring about my status with SAMAX because my name was not on the result sheets, but I reassured them that I had signed for the season," continued Carpentier. The funniest situation came on Saturday morning when the track announcer did an interview with me and introduced me as Mr. TBA driving the #11 SAMAX Pontiac Riley. That drew a few smiles."
The final checkered flag fell on Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway ending the pre-season test sessions with the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli, Jeff Gordon and Wayne Taylor leading a field of 64 cars with a time of 1:43.483 (199.310 Kph/123.846 mph). They posted their best lap in the seventh and penultimate Saturday session, edging the Gainsco Racing Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and Jimmy Vasser by over two tenths of a second. Third quickest in the Daytona Prototype class was the Target Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley of Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon. The absence of the #11 SAMAX Pontiac Riley while track conditions were optimal on Saturday is a reflection of why they are not up with the leaders as the second SAMAX entry finished eighth overall.
The 14-race season begins January 27 with the 45th running of the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will make its first appearance at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Friday August 3 for a 400-kilometer race. The Montreal race weekend will feature on Saturday the first-ever NASCAR Busch Series race held in Canada. Carpentier PR