It wasn’t perfect but Alex Figge’s first day back in the American Le Mans Series wasn’t bad either. The former open-wheel regular got his first taste of GT2 competition Friday at Miller Motorsports Park behind the wheel of Tafel Racing’s No. 73 Ferrari F430 GT.
Figge will partner with team owner Jim Tafel this weekend in the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. After testing recently at Road Atlanta, Friday was Figge’s first time racing amongst four classes of sports cars since July 2005. The Ferrari finished Friday’s test session 11th in GT2.
“I think I’d give myself a middle of the road grade – maybe a C-plus,” said Figge, who calls Denver his home. “I did OK but made a few boneheaded mistakes in traffic but I should be able to correct them with no problems. One of the challenges is having to split the car with a teammate. It’s not quite enough time in one shot to really get comfortable. That’s the most difficult thing for me right now.”
Figge drove a Corvette C5.R for seven races in 2005 with Ryan Dalziel with a best finish of third in GT1 at Portland for Pacific Coast Motorsports.
“As far as the build quality, the Ferrari is incredible,” Figge said. “I’ve been around the cars for a couple of days now and once I come to grips with the car, I think the enjoyment will only be amplified. It’s a matter of hitting the reset button each lap for me. In the test session, my last lap was 1.1 seconds faster than the previous one so times are coming down in big chunks.”
CORVETTE CHANGE: Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta put in only 20 laps in Friday’s test session, seven less than the sister car of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. Normally that might raise some eyebrows but there’s no need for alarm.
The crew of the No. 4 Corvette changed out the C6.R’s gearbox during the session, a planned move designed to compare different setups for Sunday’s race and next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Gavin and Beretta scored a victory last year at Miller Motorsports Park en route to their third consecutive GT1 championship.
SOME ROOKIE: Yes, that’s what Gil de Ferran called himself as he prepared to make his American Le Mans Series debut. If so, he may be the quickest learner since Einstein. All he did in his first American Le Mans Series test session was post the quickest time of the day, a 1:32.424 (118.772 mph) in his de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b he will share with Simon Pagenaud.
“I certainly feel like a rookie again,” said de Ferran, whose last race was a victory in the Texas IndyCar race in 2003. “There are so many aspects to this type of racing that we have been trying to get acquainted with. Team ownership and everything else that goes along with this program has been a big challenge and something I am enjoying very much.”