Road Atlanta: Tafel Racing qualifying report

Tafel Racing to Start Fifth and Eighth in GT2 at Petit Braselton, Georgia, October 5, 2007 -- Tafel Racing qualified fifth and eighth today for the 10th running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Petit Le Mans. Wolf Henzler will start the...

Tafel Racing to Start Fifth and Eighth in GT2 at Petit

Braselton, Georgia, October 5, 2007 -- Tafel Racing qualified fifth and eighth today for the 10th running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Petit Le Mans. Wolf Henzler will start the No. 71 Tafel Porsche from the third row with teammate Nathan Swartzbaugh starting from the fourth row.

Under changing track conditions from overnight and morning rain, the Tafel duo of Henzler and Swartzbaugh took to the track with what they hoped would be the right combination for the current track conditions. Henzler clocked a time of 1:22.158 and Swartzbaugh put in a lap of 1:23.158. The times were nearly a half-second slower than their fastest times in the dry the day before.

"I am not too happy with that qualifying time," Henzler said. "In practice yesterday we were really good. The car felt fast and was very drivable. I had a lot of understeer in qualifying really everywhere on the track. It could be the track losing grip from all the rain today. The car really didn't fit the current track conditions. We need to figure out how we want to approach the race with the setup of the car."

In the team No. 73 Tafel Porsche, Swartzbaugh had a similar issue with the car's handling in the afternoon qualifying session.

"I went out looking to be in the 22s," Swartzbaugh said. "We tried a little different tire combination on the car and may have missed it a little. The car was oversteering and with less grip on the track from the rain it was a handful. The braking zones were especially slippery. I was trying to keep up with the two cars in front of to get a tow down the straight and make the best of the session. With a different tire combination on the car tomorrow we should have a good race machine."

Dominik Farnbacher partners Henzler in the 71 RSR. Farnbacher was watching his teammate in the esses and noticed the handling of the car was off.

"I was watching Wolf come down through the esses and I could tell he was having some handling problems," Farnbacher said. "Yesterday we were really good, even on a full load of fuel, the car was fast. We will have to see what we want to do with the car and try it in the warm-up tomorrow morning."

Lars Erik Nielsen is teamed with Swartzbaugh and team owner Jim Tafel in the 73 997. Nielsen is enjoying his Petit experience so far.

"I love the track," Nielsen said. "It has been a positive challenge to learn the track and get up to speed. The Tafel team is very professional and really put a well prepared car on the track. That makes it very easy for me to concentrate on driving. We lost some track time with the rain this morning, but there was really nothing to be gained by going out. However if it rains tomorrow it will be an advantage for me, I don't mind driving in the rain at all."

For Jim Tafel he knows the ups-and-downs of changing weather and track conditions requires the engineers to gamble on setup.

"We made a couple of changes on the 71 before qualifying," Tafel said. "We really threw a dart at it and we were in the circle, but did not hit the bulls-eye. The track was loose and everyone's times were off. Nathan has done a good job all week and Lars has really come up to speed quickly. We are looking to have a successful day tomorrow with both cars."

-credit: tr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Lars Erik Nielsen , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher , Nathan Swartzbaugh