Former Champ Car driver Alex Figge will share the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC with owner/driver Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) for the remainder of the American Le Mans Series season. Figge, who has seven career Series starts in the GT1 class, will make his GT2 debut with the Cumming, Ga.-based organization at the Utah Grand Prix on May 18. To date, the resident of Denver, CO. has an American Le Mans Series career- best finish of third (Portland, 2005).
The 14-race Champ Car veteran joins the second- year American Le Mans Series team with an impressive racing resume. Figge has run one full season on the Champ Car Series (2007) with a career-high finish of 11th and finished 14th earlier this year at the Champ Car Series' Finale in Long Beach. The Colorado-native has five class top-10 finishes in the American Le Mans Series, all in '05, and multiple career starts in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype class with a best finish of second (Phoenix and Laguna Seca) in 2006. In 2004, Figge finished seventh overall in the Champ Car Atlantic Series with one win in Monterrey, Mexico, two podiums and two front row starts. He was also awarded the Michael Rosen Memorial Award by the Atlantic Series for "dedication, perseverance and his desire to succeed" that year. Figge's sophomore season of Atlantics spawned two top-five finishes in 2003 and nine top-tens in 12 starts. His rookie season in Atlantics resulted in two top-10s and a front row start. Figge ran consistently in the top- five of the US Formula Ford 2000 Championship in 2001 and scored three victories and two pole positions in the Formula Mazda Series from 1998 to 2000.
Tafel Racing Technical Director Tony Dowe (Cumming, Ga.) oversaw Figge's indoctrination into the team today during a private test at Road Atlanta. The test marked Figge's first opportunity to experience the Ferrari F430 GTC and Michelin's racing tire. Along with the on-track testing, the time at the Braselton, Ga. track provides an ideal opportunity for Figge and Jim Tafel to work on their driver changes prior to the fourth- round of the American Le Mans Series season scheduled at Miller Motorsports Park in mid-May.
The Salt Lake City event marks the return of the No. 73 to the GT2 grid. The car finished fourth in the season- opening 12 Hours of Sebring with Tafel, Pierre Ehret (Germany) and Allan Simonsen (Denmark) behind the wheel. The car did not race in the two events since Sebring (St. Petersburg and Long Beach).
The No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC joins the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC in team's stable. The Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) and Dirk Müller (a native of Germany living in Monaco) driven No. 71 has won the last two GT2 races (St. Petersburg and Long Beach) and currently holds the Team, Driver and IMSA Cup point lead for the class.
The Utah Grand Prix will be held May 18 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The two hour and 45-minute event can be seen live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3 PM ET. American Le Mans Series Radio Web coverage as well as live timing and scoring can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Jim Tafel, Owner: "From my spot as the owner and as a driver, I am really excited to have Alex join the team. I get a good sense that he is hungry to race. He doesn't want to miss a beat and he wants to compete. We haven't driven together yet but I think Alex will be quite good. For me, it isn't just Alex but he brings Mike Zimiki [driver coach] with him as well. Having worked with Mike and Graham Rahal I know how much he brings. They will both be great assets to Tafel Racing. I am very pleased to be able to help give Alex a home. I think we can have a prosperous year from Utah on."
Alex Figge, Driver, No. 73: "I am just really excited to be with Tafel Racing. When the [IndyCar- Champ Car] merger happened I was nervous about what I'd be doing and I am really thankful to Jim and Tony for taking me on. I have met all the guys and Dirk and Dominik. There is a lot to learn there. I am really pleased to be back in the American Le Mans Series and I am ready to get to Utah and get started."
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