Tafel Racing Earns First Career ALMS GT2 Class Pole for Road America Four Hour
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 8, 2008 - Tafel Racing earned its first American Le Mans Series career pole position today in preparation for Saturday's Generac 500 at Road America. Dirk Muller's (a native of Germany now living in Monaco) lap of two minutes, 6.083-seconds in the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC bettered the previous GT2 class track record by over one second. Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) will start the Bell Micro machine in tomorrow's four hour race. Alex Figge (Denver) put the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC, shared with Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.), seventh in class with a time of 2:08.385. Ferraris swept the front row for the second endurance event of the season. The pole position bested Tafel Racing's previous Series best qualifying position, second, earned at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring. The Cumming, Ga.-based team has three class victories in 2008; St. Petersburg, Long Beach and the most recent race run, Mid-Ohio.
Muller needed just three laps on the 4.048-mile, 14- turn circuit to earn his 14th career pole position - the most of any driver in GT2 class history. On his first 'hot' lap - 2:06.205 - he was quicker than the 2007 track qualifying record of 2:07.191. Each of the 2000 American Le Mans Series GT2 Champion's two laps were good enough to earn the pole position. The team then parked the car preferring to keep the Michelin Pilot tires, which the Bell Micro Ferrari must start the race on tomorrow, fresh for the 4 PM (CT) green flag. The session ended shortly thereafter to retrieve a stalled car on course. The No. 62 Ferrari F430 GTC turned in a time of 2:06.375 to take second on the GT2 class grid.
A tape-delayed broadcast of the Generac 500 at Road America can be seen beginning at 2 PM (ET), August 10 on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio Channel 144 will broadcast the full American Le Mans Series Radio web broadcast beginning at 4 PM (ET), August 20. Live timing and scoring of each on-track session and the live American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcast can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com.
Dominik Farnbacher, Driver, No. 71: "Dirk did a really awesome job putting the car on the pole. It is the first pole in the ALMS for the team and also for me. Tomorrow, I will try to stay in front and bring a good car back to Dirk. I think you have to watch your back here a lot. With the long straights there will be some action and you must protect yourself from behind. I am really confident for tomorrow."
Dirk Muller, Driver, No. 71: "We were quite optimistic about qualifying. We knew after practice that we had a good combination and that the car was strong. I just got two really good laps, both which would have put me on pole position, which makes me very happy personally. I am very pleased to give Tafel Racing its first pole position here in this series. Now we need to switch back to race mode. We need to really think about the four hour race tomorrow. We need to stay cool and calm and not make any mistakes. I am really looking forward to the race. This is the best race track in America. These are really challenging corners. The combination of having corners with not the best grip and other corners where you have massive grip. The whole track is very nice and challenging."
Jim Tafel, Driver, No. 73: "Alex did a great job in qualifying today. In the race, my goal is to stay on the lead lap. It is so easy to get split by the safety car and go down a lap. It is GT2 Russian Roulette. Personally, I just want to be smooth, consistent and not make any mistakes. That is how we will get our results."
Alex Figge, Driver, No. 73: "I think Dave [Fullerton, engineer] made some good changes in the practice session before qualifying. I am certainly the first one to admit that I haven't really figured out qualifying in the GT2 car yet. I am not exactly sure on the stickers [new tires] where you push and where you just try and do the same thing you have been doing. For me, when I get out there on stickers I still have a little too much of that Champ Car mentality and I overdrive it a bit. I am not disappointed but not overly excited. The good thing is that it is a long race and there will probably be some attrition; hopefully in front of us. The weather here is perfect. I am looking forward to the race. It's going to be fun."