Tafel Racing Debuts New Driver Pairings for Petit Le Mans Cumming, Georgia, September 28, 2007 -- Tafel Racing is ready for one of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) signature events, the 10-hour Petit Le Mans to be run at Road Atlanta on...
Tafel Racing Debuts New Driver Pairings for Petit Le Mans
Cumming, Georgia, September 28, 2007 -- Tafel Racing is ready for one of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) signature events, the 10-hour Petit Le Mans to be run at Road Atlanta on October 6. New driver pairings highlight the Tafel team's entry.
For the Tafel crew this penultimate round of the series is also a home race, being headquartered just down the highway in Cumming. The team has tested more than two days so far this season at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn undulating road course circuit located 45-minutes northeast of Atlanta.
Wolf Henzler and Dominik Farnbacher will drive the No. 71 Tafel Racing Porsche. The two Germans share a similar driver development path, both having driven for the potent Farnbacher team in Germany's ultra-competitive Porsche Cup Series.In the No. 73 Tafel RSR, team owner Jim Tafel is partnered by Nathan Swartzbaugh and Lars Erik Nielsen. Nielsen is a veteran sportscar driver having spent the year racing in the European Le Mans Series. For Swartzbaugh it will be his second start in the Tafel racer, the first coming at Road America in August.
Wolf Henzler, will take on new teammate and long time friend Dominik Farnbacher. The two share a similar driving style and that should payoff in a very competitive outing for the 71 next weekend.
"I have known Dom for a while and he is very quick," Henzler said. "As he did in the European Le Mans Series last year and the ALMS this year, he has learned a lot and brings speed and experience to the 71 car. He ran Petit Le Mans last year with Alex Job, therefore he knows what to expect from the race. The race will be a challenge running with just two drivers. We both like the fast corners on the Road Atlanta circuit, especially the last two corners. It is a very long race, we will need luck and of course a reliable car. Dom and I will have to run consistent lap times and the team will need good strategy. The team has worked hard all year and I hope we can reward them with a strong podium finish."
Dominik Farnbacher is partnering Henzler for the final two races. Farnbacher's driving style mirrors that of Henzler, throw in a little bit of friendly German competition, and the results should show up on the time sheet."I am very happy to drive with Wolf, he has been a very close friend of mine," Farnbacher said. "It is a dream come true to be with Wolf for the rest of the season. Thanks to Jim and Tony for making this possible. Wolf and I are very flexible, that means we can drive a car however it is setup, which is important over 10 hours of racing. We like a similar setup on the car and that means we focus on being competitive on the track. Road Atlanta is a very fast circuit, I like the ups and downs and the fast corners especially the last turn coming down the hill. This is a long race that I think we can win. The Porsche has been very reliable and the team has a lot of miles there this season in testing."
For Lars Erik Nielsen, Petit Le Mans will be his first visit to the challenging Road Atlanta circuit. However the Dane is no stranger to the Tafel team, having finished fifth with the group at Daytona in January.
"I was very pleased with the Grand-Am car at Daytona," Nielsen said. "My old engineer Dave Fullerton will be looking after the car, so that is a plus. I will be driving with Jim and Nathan. I am looking forward to driving a new track with a fantastic pair of drivers. I have been racing with Dominik's father at Sebring and in the European Le Mans series, and am currently fifth in points. I have been driving the Porsche RSR, so the only thing that will be new to me will be the Road Atlanta circuit. However the team has tested there and we will have plenty of data and track time to get me used to the place."
Nathan Swartzbaugh will start his second race with the team. Swartzbaugh has been living in the Atlanta area all summer focusing on his racing and physical fitness regimen. Swartzbaugh has Road Atlanta experience having competed there last year in the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup.
"I was third in the Michelin Cup race last year, so I know the track pretty well," Swartzbaugh said. "They have repaved it, so that should make lap times even faster. Lars ran with us at Daytona and he is a consistent, quick driver who doesn't make mistakes. Petit typically has a bigger field and it is a fast track. The challenge is to stay out of the pits and keep the wheels turning. Strategy will also come into play. We will need to set a pace, save ourselves and save the equipment for the last stint. Though the race is 10 hours long, it usually comes down to that last stint."
Jim Tafel, team owner and driver of the No. 73, is ready to put on a good show for the team's hometown fans. Tafel has turned a lot of laps in testing on the newly repaved Road Atlanta circuit and is ready to have a successful weekend.
"We have tested at Road Atlanta for two days, add the two this weekend and we will have a lot of laps going into Petit," Tafel said. "We have put Wolf and Dominik together, that will be a strong pair, we still have room for a third in the 71, but we are weighing our options. Lars has a great track record in endurance racing, both here and in Europe. He has competed at a very high level in sports car racing and really did a nice job for us at Daytona. The longer races really suit this team. We had a podium finish at Sebring in our first ALMS race so we are looking for good things next week."
"We have gone through a little shuffling in our driver lineup," said Tony Dowe, team technical director. "We think that this group will give us the best chance for success at the second biggest race on the schedule. By the time the green flag drops we will have spent nearly a week testing at Road Atlanta. We hope that our miles around the track will pay dividends after 10 hours next Saturday.Tafel Racing would like to thank team sponsors ANCA and Tornos for their support."