Farnbacher Loles Racing started from the front of the grid for the 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring. After posting top times all week in practice, Dirk Werner set the fastest lap during Thursday's qualifying, and the team seemed well-positioned for...
Farnbacher Loles Racing started from the front of the grid for the 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring. After posting top times all week in practice, Dirk Werner set the fastest lap during Thursday's qualifying, and the team seemed well-positioned for a strong finish.
During Friday's practice though, the car sustained damage from a spin and contact with the wall in turn 17. The team worked diligently late into the evening getting the #87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR repaired and race-ready. Saturday morning's warm-up showed the car was indeed on pace and the drivers were focused on the task ahead.
At the start, Dirk Werner kept the lead and held it through the first round of pit stops. He built up a 30-second margin before a caution at the 90-minute mark. The team took advantage of the yellow to pit for fuel, tires and a driver change. Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler took over and re-joined the race in first place. Unfortunately, Henzler returned to the pits on the next lap with a severe vibration. After diagnosing the problem, the car was brought to the paddock for replacement of the rear differential. The repair was lengthy, and the class leader built up an insurmountable lead, but the team soldiered on.
The #87 lost nearly two hours and returned to the race down more than 50 laps and in 12th place in the GT2 Class. Henzler set about making up ground and began ripping off class leading lap times. On his 78th lap, Henzler lowered the GT2 best lap time to 2:02.929, which would be one of the fastest laps of the day.
While hopes for a podium seemed unlikely, the team was now running for valuable points. Scoring points at Sebring is crucial for season-long competitors, since there is a 10-point bonus on each point-paying position. With five hours remaining, and Richard Lietz at the wheel, the #87 jumped into the points as the team took over the 10th position.
Scoring points at Sebring is dependent upon a competitor completing 70% of the laps of the overall winner. The team was working towards that goal, but on lap 154, Lietz came in with a broken front upright. The crew worked vigorously to fix the problem while the race leaders were in the process of setting a new distance record. The 70% goal in was now in doubt.
At 6:20 pm, with just over four hours to go, and repairs completed, Dirk Werner wheeled the car back onto the track. The next fours went by without drama, but the drivers needed to keep pushing to turn as many laps as possible. As the clock wound down, it became clear Farnbacher Loles Racing would in fact score points with an eighth-place finish and 274 laps completed. It was not the result the team prepared for or expected, but they came away with a very impressive pole position, 13 GT2 Class points, and the knowledge they have a car that can compete for the championship. Team principal Gregory Loles summed it up, "We really had high expectations for Sebring. Obviously, the mechanical issues derailed our plans, but we know we have a very capable car, an excellent crew and incredibly talented drivers. And as evidenced by the effort put in today, we will give it everything we have, at every race."
The series continues at St. Petersburg, Florida on April 4th.