Briscoe puts Porsche on top in Salt Lake City
It didn’t take Ryan Briscoe long to acquaint himself with Miller Motorsports Park. The young Aussie put in the fastest overall race lap Thursday in the American Le Mans Series’ first on-track session for the Utah Grand Prix in one of Penske Motorsports’ Porsche RS Spyders.
Briscoe turned in a lap of 2:22.613 as Penske’s two LMP2 entries ran first and second on the 4.5-mile, 24-turn circuit. Timo Bernhard was 0.3 seconds behind at 2:22.932 in the sister Spyder. He and Romain Dumas won the last two rounds of the Series at Long Beach and Houston.
Both Porsches were under last year’s qualifying records, the only cars to do so in the field. Briscoe’s time bested Lucas Luhr’s best effort from 2006 by 0.7 seconds.
“The circuit is wonderful,” said Briscoe, who has won once in class this year with Sascha Maassen at St. Petersburg. “There are a lot of amazing corners. I had to adjust on the first few laps, but after that was great.”
Allan McNish was quickest in LMP1 and third overall for Audi Sport North America and the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI. The car won last year’s inaugural race here courtesy of Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela. McNish and Capello were in position to win last year’s race before a tire puncture and pit stop ruined their day.
Dyson Racing’s Porsche of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger were fourth overall and third in P2, just ahead of the Audi of Pirro and Marco Werner. All five cars were within two seconds of each other.
In GT1, Oliver Gavin turned in the quickest time for Corvette Racing. His lap of 2:37.956 in the Corvette C6.R he will share with Olivier Beretta bested the sister entry of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen by 0.667 seconds. Beretta and Gavin won the first three rounds of the Series before O’Connell and Magnussen took the victory at Houston.
Tomas Enge wrote another incredible chapter in his comeback story by posting the best time for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning. His lap of 2:45.587 placed the team’s Ferrari F430 GT ahead of Risi Competizione’s Ferrari of Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, the defending class winners.
Enge suffered a shattered left elbow, a contused lung, cracked ribs and severe bruising following a serious crash at St. Petersburg while leading the race. He missed the next two rounds.
“It feels really good to be back,” Enge said. “We still have something to try tomorrow and we know we can improve the car. “We are doing reasonably good times compared to last year.”
After Salo and Melo, Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister and Johannes van Overbeek was third in class and the best of the 997 RSRs, less than 0.4 seconds off Enge’s pace.