Tafel Racing Puts Two Cars into Top-Five of Tightly Packed Sebring 12 Hour Field No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Ferrari To Start Second, No. 73 Tafel Ferrari Fourth in GT2 Pack SEBRING, Fla. March 13 2008 - Tafel Racing will start second and...
Tafel Racing Puts Two Cars into Top-Five of Tightly Packed Sebring 12 Hour Field
SEBRING, Fla. March 13 2008 - Tafel Racing will start second and fourth in Saturday's 56th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) turned a lap of two minutes, 1.800 seconds in the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC in this morning's practice session to take second on the GT2 grid. Allan Simonsen (Danish-born but living in Melbourne, Australia) lapped the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC at 2:02.227 to be awarded fourth. Both of the Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) owned cars bettered the standing GT2 track record here at Sebring International Raceway of 2:02.439 set last year. Neither of the times which placed the cars in the top-four on the grid came during today's 25-minute GT2/GT1 qualifying session. Instead, the final grid for the American Le Mans Series season-opener has been set by virtue of practice times turned on the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit over the first two days of official activity.
While the GT classes successfully completed the full term of their qualifying session, the LMP1/LMP2 session was cut short as a result of incidents on track. International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), official sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series, rules demand that a minimum of 10 minutes of the scheduled 25 minute qualifying session be completed under green flag conditions. The LMP session was only able to complete eight minutes. Therefore, the full starting lineup for the 12 hour endurance racing classic reverts to the practice times. Tafel Racing, as did most cars, set their quickest laps in this morning's 55-minute session.
The Cumming, Ga.-based program benefited from the use of practice times to set the grid. While both Tafel cars ran quicker than their practice speeds in time trials, had the negated qualifying session stood the No. 71 Bell Micro Ferrari would have placed fifth on the grid while the 73 took sixth.
Joining Farnbacher in the No. 71 will be 2000 American Le Mans Series GT2, then known as GT class, champion and Sebring winner Dirk Muller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco). Rob Bell (Northants, England), the 2007 Le Mans Series GT2 Champion, will join the two Germans. Sharing the seat of the No. 73 with Simonsen is 2005 24 At Daytona GT winner Pierre Ehret (who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif. but was born in Germany) and Tafel Racing owner/driver Jim Tafel.
The required night practice took place this evening. The one hour and 45-minute session is the only time this week that Tafel Racing will have an opportunity to prepare for nighttime hours of Saturday's race. IMSA rules dictate that each driver turns a minimum of three laps in darkness to become familiar with the car and the track at night. The Bell Micro Ferrari had the third quickest time at night (2:02.840) while the 73 entry had the sixth (2:04.278).
Wednesday's release inaccurately reported the driver of the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC's quickest lap on the first day of practice. Pierre Ehret should have been correctly identified as the fastest driver for the first day of official practice.
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring can be seen live on SPEED Channel starting at 9:30 am (ET), March 15th. Live timing and scoring of each on-track session and the American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcast can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com. The start and the finish of the race can be heard live on XM Satellite Radio Channel 166.
Jim Tafel, Team Owner/Driver, No. 73: "I really felt that we went out there and qualified five and six. What happed was unfortunate but, most importantly, Ben Devlin is alright. That situation took us back to where we used our three practice sessions and that qualified us second and fourth. With that being said, that worked for our advantage and gave us some more data to work on the car. Overall I am very happy going into tomorrow. We'll get a few things sorted and go into Saturday."
Tony Dowe, Technical Director: "We are happy with how the cars performed today. I believe that qualifying was a good indication of how close this race will be. In fact, how close the competition this whole season will be."
Dominik Farnbacher, Driver, No. 71: "Qualifying was very good. I liked it very much. This is the first weekend that I drove the Ferrari; it was good. I was a little nervous but I tried to get the best out of it. I just tried to be focused and drive smooth. The times for the first five were pretty tight. To be in the top five for my first time in this car I am proud. I want to thank the team for putting in so much effort and giving me such a good car."
Allan Simonsen, Driver, No. 73: "We kept going faster and faster all the way through the day. We improved the car and put in a lap time that was extremely fast around here. Unfortunately, it is extremely close at the top as well so it only put us sixth. It is a long race and, as it turned out, qualifying was canceled and we are going with our practice result which was fourth. It is going well. We are constantly within the top-six whatever session we have been in. We are concentrating more on trying to have a good race car than having a good qualifying car because it is quite a long race."