TAFEL CELEBRATES VICTORY AT INFINEON As the champagne flew in victory lane, Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler were happy to be caught in the spray as they celebrated their fourth victory in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by...
TAFEL CELEBRATES VICTORY AT INFINEON
As the champagne flew in victory lane, Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler were happy to be caught in the spray as they celebrated their fourth victory in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve at the Sonoma 250. After an "off course incident" in the third practice session on Friday and the repairs that incident required, Scotsman Liddell and Henzler of Germany had a thrilling weekend in the 72 NEC Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, qualifying on the pole and finishing the race six seconds ahead of the 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. This victory helps to close the gap in the points race between second place Tafel Racing and first place TRG with one more race to go in the season.
Liddell earned his first Rolex series pole with a time of 1:38.425 on the 2.52 mile road course at Infineon Raceway and led the GT class throughout his first stint. Henzler took over in lap 25 during a full- course caution and maintained a 2nd place position during most of his stint, despite pressure from several different challengers. During another routine pit stop in lap 75, Liddell got back in the car and stayed a few seconds behind the 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R until lap 91 when the Pontiac ducked into pit lane for a splash of fuel under caution, giving the lead to the 72 Porsche. Liddell was able to maintain this lead for the last few laps of green flag racing, scoring a GT class victory.
"We were pretty sure that they had to stop for fuel so with only a 34 second lead I was pretty sure I would re-take the lead," Liddell said after the race. "Really it was the 64 car we should have been racing for the win and when they did their second stop as he exited pit road, I passed him around the outside into turn 1, although he had to pit after two laps with a suspected loose wheel. With the last caution I knew the pressure would be on with the 65 right behind but I was confident he would not get around me and I simply pulled away."
Eric Lux of Buffalo, NY qualified the 74 Rembrandt Charms Porsche GT3 Cup in 10th place with a lap time of 1:40.604, but managed to work his way through traffic to 7th before turning the car over to teammate Ian James of Phoenix, Az. in lap 73. James had the car's quickest lap, a 1:40.539 near the end of the race, and managed to bring the car up a few more places, finishing 5th. Lux had never raced at Infineon before, but quickly learned to maneuver the winding course as his lap times continued to drop throughout the weekend.
"It was probably the most challenging course I've ever driven and it took me longer than I had hoped to learn it. Ian and I had a great race and probably would have finished higher if it hadn't been for the caution at the end. We just didn't have time to make up position when we went back to green."
Lux will be going back to Jacksonville University on Sunday to resume his freshman year of school, but will be heading back out west at the end of the week to compete in both the Rolex series race and the Grand Am Cup race at Miller Motorsport Park.
It looked like it would also be a great race for the 73 NEC Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, with Andrew Davis of Bogrt, Ga. qualifying in 7th position with a lap time of 1:39.329. Davis had moved up to 6th when team owner Jim Tafel of Alpharetta, Ga. began his driving stint in lap 41. Tafel maintained that position, turning the car back over to Davis in lap 75.The car was running well, but things changed drastically when the 77 Feeds the Need/Doran Racing Ford made contact in lap 90, forcing Davis to lock up his brakes and sending him into the tire wall in turn 1. Because this incident happened so late in the race, Davis was unable to return and finished 11th.
All three Tafel Racing Porsches preformed flawlessly this weekend, coming into the pits only for fuel, tires, and minor adjustments. The championship in GT will come down to the wire at the nine-hour season finale in the Discount Tires Sunchaser at the new Miller Motorsport Park in Toole, Utah next weekend.