Tafel Racing Running Third and Sixth at Half Distance in Sebring 12-Hour
Sebring, Fla., March 17, 2007 -- Tafel Racing drivers Wolf Henzler and Dominik Farnbacher took the number 71 and 73 Tafel Porsche racers to the green flag this morning in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Soon after the drop of the green flag, Wolf Henzler's No. 71 Tafel Racing Porsche was hit in the rear at turn three by a fellow GT2 competitor dropping the German from third to 13th.
Farnbacher had better fortunes at the beginning. He was able to improve on his fifth place starting position to run second after the opening lap. The young German put up a fast pace that saw him take the overall lead in GT2 on lap three. On the last lap of his double stint, the Porsche 997 RSR developed a slight fuel pick-up problem and stalled several turns before the pit entrance. With careful instructions from the crew, Farnbacher was able to make it back to pit lane for fuel and turned the driving duties over to Jim Tafel.
Tafel proceeded to run consistent lap times as he was focusing on getting into the rhythm of his first ever ALMS race.
"Exhilarating," Tafel exclaimed about his first stint in ALMS competition. "It was a real eye opener. The car was a lot to handle and had developed a really big push. I was running good times and finding the rhythm of the race. I had two small spins, but my first round behind the wheel at Sebring was great! Dominik did a great job, it was nice to see him lead our first laps as a new team in the series."
Robin Liddell took over from Henzler on lap 64 and after the pit stop shuffle settled into fourth place.
"We ran my first stint on hard tires but the grip wasn't as good," Liddell said. "Towards the end of the stint the balance of the car got better but there was less grip -- the rear started to feel greasy - so we went back to the medium compound. I had horrendous traffic in my first stint and kept getting one bad break after another. The second was much better and I got into a better rhythm."
Patrick Long relieved Liddell to cross the half-way mark of the race. Long took the No. 71 Tafel entry to second place during his stint, running laps faster than the team's qualifying times.
"We were trying some setting experiments to set ourselves up for the end," Long said. "I pushed a little too hard early on in my stint and that cost me in the end. The team is doing a great job for their ALMS race. We are keeping the pressure on the front runners and looking good for a strong finish."
Ian James took the reins of the No. 73 racer in the middle of the afternoon. James was running as high a fifth during his time at the wheel.
"We got down a couple of laps cycling through the pit stops as well as being caught out on the caution period," James said. "The car is really good, it is fairly consistent throughout the stint. We double stinted the tires and as you would expect they fall off with about six laps remaining on a tank of gas. With the relatively cool temperatures today it is fun to drive."
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is being televised live on the SPEED Channel with an anticipated finish of 10:05 p.m.