RACING QUALIFIES 1-2 FOR ROLEX 24
Wolf Henzler Sets GT Qualifying Record
DAYTONA BEACH, Fl., Jan.
26, 2006 – Having set the fastest lap during all three days
of the recent Daytona test session and in the two practice sessions
prior to qualifying, Wolf Henzler and Andrew Davis put the #72 NEC
and #74 Rembrandt Charms Porsches of Tafel Racing first and second
on the GT grid for Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
a GT qualifying record of 1:53.336, his second-straight pole at
the Rolex. He is also “two for two” in Grand-Am races,
winning the Rolex and Watkins Glen race last year.
Rolex is special,” said Henzler (left). “First of all
for the Rolex (watch) of course! Then you have the tradition; even
in Europe this race receives considerable publicity. And the track
with its combination of the high banking with the tight infield
is very unique. Only in the Rolex do you get 75 cars of different
classes racing against each other for 24 hours.”
regard to the pole, Jim Tafel, owner/driver (right), commented that
the “pole is great but one-two really does it for me. Our
pit position, sponsors, drivers and crew are working in harmony
and I’m really hoping to capitalize on what we’ve put
together. Today was great, but the race is next and that will be
Technical Director Tony
Dowe, a winner of the Rolex six times, including three overall stated
“Obviously I’m pleased with the pole but, more importantly,
it shows that the decision we made to bypass the Mexico race last
year and focus on the Rolex and the 2006 season was the right one.
I’m very proud of the effort and commitment of the drivers,
engineers and crews; both cars on the front row of the GT grid proves
that all of the detail work was worthwhile. I also want to thank
Porsche for giving us such a good platform to work with; to Hoosier
for the good tire development program; and, especially to Jim Tafel
for giving all of us a great team to work with.”
“First time I came
here was in 1988 with Jaguar and we finished 1st and 3rd,”
Dowe continued. “I’d like to improve on that this year.”
Following on the team’s
fifth-place Rolex GT finish in only its first full year of competition,
Tafel, owner/driver of Tafel Racing, earlier announced a three-car
campaign featuring Porsche GT3 Cup cars for the full 13-race season
in the 2006 Grand American Rolex GT Series presented by Crown Royal
Tafel and Dowe assembled
an excellent mix of seasoned professionals and enthusiastic youth
to drive for the team, including two previous Rolex 24 at Daytona
winners, Henzler and Scotsman Robin Liddell, in the #72 NEC Tafel
the past three seasons, Liddell (left) has successfully driven both
prototypes and GT cars in America, including a class victory in
the 2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona, as well as 8 additional wins and 7
fastest laps. In 2005, Liddell was in the Top 5 in both American
Le Mans (ALMS) and Speed World Challenge Drivers’ Championships.
The past two years have
been equally successful for Henzler. After starting his career as
Junior German Kart Champion in 1991, he broke through in 2004 winning
the Porsche Michelin Supercup with 9 wins and 2 seconds out of 12
races. Like Liddell, Henzler won the GT class in the Rolex 24 at
Daytona in 2005 and finished 4th in the ALMS GT championship.
and Liddell at the Rolex 24 will be Californian Johannes van Overbeek
and 17-year-old Graham Rahal, son of the legendary racer and team
year, van Overbeek (right) finished in 3rd at the 24 Hours of Le
Mans and in the ALMS GT championship just ahead of Henzler and Liddell.
In 2004, he was the runner-up in the ALMS GT championship and finished
2nd behind Liddell in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. And in 2003, van
Overbeek again placed 3rd in both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the
Grand-Am Rolex GT championship.
Hoping to earn “Rookie
of the Year” status at the Rolex 24, Rahal was successful
as a rookie in Formula BMW in 2004 followed by even better rookie
year in Star Mazda finishing 4th in the championship. Rahal topped
that by becoming the Formula Atlantic Champion in the 2005 SCCA
Runoffs last fall.
Tafel and Davis,
both from the Atlanta area, tied for 9th in the 2005 Rolex GT Drivers’
Championship, scoring points in all 13 of the races they contested
and finishing as high as 4th at Daytona and Watkins Glen. Joining
Tafel and Davis in the #74 Rembrandt Charms Tafel Racing Porsche
will be Dr. C. Michael Cawley from Atlanta, Charles Espenlaub of
Lutz, Fl. and Buffalo’s Eric Lux.
starting his career with three straight SCCA Southeast Championships
from 1997-1999, Davis (right) has had a versatile career as of late
competing in ALMS, Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR), Grand-Am Cup,
as well as the entire Rolex GT Series with Tafel Racing. Last year,
Davis qualified on the front row multiple times and led numerous
laps on his way to a 5th place in the Rolex GT Series. An Atlanta
neurosurgeon, Cawley has competed in numerous Grand-Am and Porsche
Cup races over the past three years.
(left) has been racing SPEED Touring Cars along with Porsche Club,
HSR, Motorola Cup and Grand-Am Cup since 1999 but spends much of
his time as a senior driving instructor for the Panoz Racing School
where he was Lux’s instructor. Espenlaub must have done a
good job because in his first year of professional racing Lux has
scored 8 HSR wins and was the first 16-year old to take the checkered
flag in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona where he finished 9th in class
and 21st overall.
And, of course, one of
the team’s strengths and mainstays is unquestionably the experience
of veteran racing director, Tony Dowe. Few in sports car racing
have such an extensive resume, including Team Manager for Jaguar’s
overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1990), as well as Technical
Director for TWR Group, Panoz Motorsports, Professional Sports Car
Racing and Dick Barbour Racing, among others.
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