Dumas tops morning practice in Utah
Porsche and Penske Motorsports continued to assert themselves at Miller Motorsports Park on Friday morning with the two fastest times in the day's first practice session for the Utah Grand Prix. This time it was Romain Dumas taking overall honors with a 2:22.460 on his final flying lap of the hour-long session.
Dumas and Timo Bernhard have won the last two overall events in the American Le Mans Series with their P2 Porsche. On Friday, he was a half-second better than teammate Sascha Maassen in the sister Penske entry at 2:22.949. Ryan Briscoe, Maassen's teammate, was fastest in Thursday night's test session, and the Porsches obviously benefited from early-week testing.
"The car is good. We've improved every session," Dumas said. "We will continue to work on the car every time out, but we are quite happy."
Bryan Herta was third overall and in P2 for Acura and Andretti Green Racing at 2:23.081. The team is here for the first time, and Herta took a Miller school car around the track Monday to learn the 4.5-mile, 24-turn venue. "I love the circuit. It's fast, flowing and great fun," said Marino Franchitti, Herta's teammate this weekend. "It feels like our car will be faster. Acura and Andretti Green have made some changes."
Defending race winner Audi struggled during the session, although the two diesel-powered R10 TDIs were first and second in class. Emanuele Pirro went quickest the car he will share with Marco Werner at 2:25.313, nearly a full three seconds behind Dumas' Porsche and eighth overall. Allan McNish was 0.368 seconds behind in the sister Audi he will share with Dindo Capello.
"We have some setup issues trying to accommodate both drivers and we've gone too far in the wrong direction," Werner said. "We are not happy with the results on the timing sheet. This should have been a circuit that was perfect for us."
Olivier Beretta was quickest in GT1 for Corvette Racing at 2:36.937. He and Johnny O'Connell did a bulk of the work in the two Corvette C6.Rs. They sat 12th and 13th overall.
Tomas Enge again turned in the best GT2 lap for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing with a 2:44.997 in the team's Ferrari F430 GT. Enge's story has been well-documented, returning to the Series following a devastating crash at St. Petersburg that left him with a broken elbow, punctured lung and broken ribs among other injuries.
He and teammate Darren Turner won here last year in GT1 for Aston Martin Racing.
"The arm is not an issue," Enge said. The fact that I have experience from last year on this track helps; it's easier to drive a track the second year than the first. It's always difficult to drive a car on the edge. It doesn't matter what kind of car it is."
Two Porsches were directly behind Enge with Tafel Racing's Wolf Henzler second in class at 2:45.225. He was followed by Flying Lizard Motorsports' Jörg Bergmeister, who was another half second behind.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. It will air live on XM Satellite Radio's Sports Nation channel. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.