Tafel Racing Accepts Invitation to 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans Jim Tafel Team to Field No. 81 Ferrari F430 GTC for First Time at La Sarthe CUMMING, Ga., February 20, 2008 - Tafel Racing will contend for the LM GT2 class honors this June at the 24...
Tafel Racing Accepts Invitation to 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans
Jim Tafel Team to Field No. 81 Ferrari F430 GTC for First Time at La Sarthe
CUMMING, Ga., February 20, 2008 - Tafel Racing will contend for the LM GT2 class honors this June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO), official sanctioning body of the world's most famous sports car race, announced the Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) owned team has been honored as one of only 13 cars invited to participate in the road-based LM GT2 class at the June 14-15 24 hour event. The second-year American Le Mans Series team will be making its first appearance at Le Mans. Team regulars Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) and 2007 FIA GT Series GT2 class Champion Dirk Muller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco) will share the Italian supercar with Sebring teammate and 2007 Australian GT Champion Allan Simonsen (Danish-born living in Melbourne, Australia). Tony Dowe (Cumming, Ga.) will oversee preparations for the No. 81 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC.
Due to the high standards of the ACO, to be selected to one of only 34 non-automatic slots is a distinct honor for the program. Tafel Racing, which will race on Michelin tires, was up against some of the most heated competition in the 76 year history of the event. 88 requests for invitation were sent to the ACO since the first of the year. Of the 55 cars invited to compete across the four Le Mans classes, 21 were automatically invited as a result of event and/or championship success in ACO-ruled classes around the world, such as the American Le Mans Series. Tafel Racing showed itself strong with solid finishes throughout its rookie season in the American-based ACO series finishing third in the GT2 Team Championship behind teams with much longer pedigrees in the division.
Eight Ferrari F430 GTCs have been asked to compete on the 8.476 miles-long Circuit De La Sarthe in Le Mans, France. The LM GT2 class is the second largest trailing the 20 cars in the LM P1 prototype field. 12 cars comprise the LM P2 class while 10 LM GT1 entries round out the field. Eight additional "reserve" cars have been invited to attend the Le Mans "Test Day" on June 1; three of which are LM GT2 class cars. Tafel Racing is one of four American Le Mans Series teams that have been invited to race in its class. Overall, nine American Le Mans Series teams, seven from the United States, will participate in the historic event.
In his only 24 Hours of Le Mans start, Farnbacher drove a Porsche to second in LM GT2 class in 2006. His car was leading in the 23rd hour before a transmission problem dropped them out of first-place. The second-year Tafel Racing driver has one 24 hour race win, the 2005 24 At Daytona. Muller will also be making his second 24 Hour of Le Mans start this June. As a Porsche factory driver, Muller raced to second in class at La Sarthe in 1999. He has 24 hour race victories at Nurburgring and Spa- Francorchamps, both in 2004. Simonsen made his Le Mans debut last season finishing third in the LM GT2 class. The 2007 Australian GT Champion has additional 24 hour starts at Spa ('06) and Bathurst ('03).
Despite making its Le Mans premiere this season, Tafel Racing has taken the green flag three times in 24 hour races at Daytona. The Cumming, Ga-based operation finished third in the Team Championship in their inaugural American Le Mans Series campaign in 2007. They scored a podium finish at the 2007 season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring, their first American Le Mans Series race, and two consecutive second place finishes to close the season at the Petit Le Mans and Monterey Sports Car Championships.
Tafel Racing will compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the American Le Mans Series season-opener, on March 15. They will follow that with Series starts at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) on April 5, the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 19 and then one week later at the Lonestar Grand Prix of Houston (April 26). The final GT2 race prior to departing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the May 18 event in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Jim Tafel, Owner: "I am floating pretty high right now. You hear rumors that you are going to get in but when Tony [Dowe] came into my office and gave me the invitation, it blew me away. To me this says that there is no silver bullet that got Tafel Racing into Le Mans. I believe they look at your image, your attitude, your competitiveness, your acceptance of responsibility; everything that it takes to be a part of a world class event. To receive an invitation we must have fit those criteria. Last year we didn't get into the race but I wasn't upset. That gave us more time to focus on getting there with a good year of ALMS GT2 behind us. This is the cherry on the sundae. I am going through a full range of emotion."
Tony Dowe, Technical Director: "You do not go to Le Mans if you don't expect to win and we have planned accordingly. The driver lineup and the team, the way we are approaching the race; I expect to win. Of course, there are twelve other teams that are working to make sure that we don't win this race. With the teams that are in the GT2 field it is going to be an awesome race. I am really pumped to be involved in it. This is going to be a spectacular battle in each class whether you are looking at Audi versus Peugeot or Ferrari versus Porsche. It is going to be an absolute barnburner."