St. Pete: Tafel Racing race report

Tafel Racing Finishes Fifth and Sixth in GT2 at St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Fla., March 31, 2007 -- Tafel Racing drivers Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler finished fifth in GT2 today in round two of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Acura...

Tafel Racing Finishes Fifth and Sixth in GT2 at St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Fla., March 31, 2007 -- Tafel Racing drivers Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler finished fifth in GT2 today in round two of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. Jim Tafel and Dominik Farnbacher came home in sixth in a team car.

The 14-turn, 1.8-mile St. Petersburg bay-side street course lined in concrete was the showcase for the Tafel Racing team and their two Porsche 997 racers. Robin Liddell had a rocket-like start and was able lead the first 32 laps until the first caution.

"Going into the first corner, the P1 cars stacked up and I was able to go down the middle of the track," Liddell said of the start.

"I stayed there into turn two and then saw the two Ferraris get caught up behind a P1, and I was able to stay in the throttle and get around them on the outside of turn three. The car was really good and confidence-inspiring, which is what you need on a circuit like this. I was able to put a little gap to the Ferrari and run fast, but safe laps in the lead. We pitted under the first yellow and had fuel rig problems that cost us a lap. The car was the best it has been to date. It was too bad team."

Henzler got into the No. 71 Porsche on lap 62 and did not have the chance to change the day's destiny.

"We had the fuel problem and that put us a lap down," Henzler explained. "Robin did a great job to put us in the lead and we were starting to play out our strategy and then the problem. Once I got in the car I was behind the lead GT2 car and was faster in the inner part of the circuit, but really had no chance to pass him. It is tough when you have such a good car and you can't deliver a top result for the team that worked so hard all weekend."

Farnbacher started the No. 73 Tafel 997 RSR from the second row alongside his team car. The young German was able to work through an early race vibration to maintain his fourth place position throughout his stint.

"My first stint was pretty good," Farnbacher said. "I took a little different line into turn one and it did not pay off as well as it did for Robin. Early in the race, on lap nine, I had a funny vibration in the front, but it went away; maybe it was just some pick-up on the tires. In my second stint I had some contact going into the last turn when everyone in front of me stacked up; just a small racing incident."

Tafel took over the controls of the No. 73 on lap 73. The team owner was able to put together solid laps, avoiding he impatience of the P1 drivers to contribute to a strong finish.

"A street course like this demands perfection," Tafel said. "The P1 and P2 cars are making some crazy moves. You have to anticipate their actions while maintaining your race pace. There are a lot of variables. It is tough to run the same line twice in the race with all of the traffic. I was able to be steady and consistent, and we posted a decent finish."

"The fuel rig problem with Robin and Wolf's car just made us sick," Tony Dowe, the team's technical director said. "We were not getting the fuel flowing fast enough from the rig to the car and that cost us a lap. It was sad that the problem negated a great starting run by Robin. A tough day for the team, but once again we showed that we have the pace to run at the front."

The series will travel across country for round three of the American Le Mans Series, to be run through the streets of Long Beach, Calif. on April 14th.

-credit: tr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Robin Liddell , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher