Farnbacher Loles Racing's Thrilling Battle in Utah Miller Motorsports Park has been the site of several epic battles to the checkers and the ...
Farnbacher Loles Racing's Thrilling Battle in Utah
Miller Motorsports Park has been the site of several epic battles to the checkers and the #87 Shock Doctor/ Intercity Lines/ PlanetPorsche GT3 Cup was part of an intense and thrilling fight to the finish in Saturday night's Utah 250 Grand-Am Rolex Series race. Despite only needing to finish the race ahead of the #07 Pontiac to clinch the 2009 Driver's Championship, the Farnbacher Loles Racing team knew they had a car that could win. With the race winding down, Dirk Werner of Kissenbruck, Germany was chasing Robin Liddell in the #57 Pontiac GXP.R, who had the lead. The two drivers put on an amazing show and pulled away from the rest of the pack, running nose-to-tail for lap after lap on the 4.5 mile course. Liddell was doing all he could to hold off Werner, and as his car started sliding through the corners, Werner saw his chance. Werner did not hesitate to make the attempt.
Braking hard and aiming for the inside line, the #87 came up a few inches short, made contact with the #57, punctured tires on both machines, and ended one of the most exciting duels in recent GT Class history. Werner, and co-driver Leh Keen, of Charleston, NC, would eventually finish the race in sixth place, with both the Team Championship and the Driver's Championships to be decided in the final round of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Keen knows that despite today's setback, they are still in strong contention going into the final race.
"We've been going for it all year, and that's how we got to where we are in the Championship," Keen said. "We went for the win today and came up short. It's not ideal, but we're with a great team, so we can still get it done in Homestead."
Werner reflects his co-driver's mentality.
"My car was really good at the end," Werner said. "I saw Robin (Liddell in the #57 car) sliding around, and he braked early in one turn, and we went into the turn side by side. I was already up on the curb and I think I do not have enough room to avoid contact. It was a little tap, but I got a flat front left tire and it was a long way back to the finish line that slowly. It took me a long, long time. "It would be nicer to come to Miami with everything already done. It was in my hands to win the race or clinch the championship, and I did not do it."
Eric Lux of Jacksonville, FL, started the two hour and forty five minute race in seventh, but quickly got the #86 Farnbacher Loles Racing/Wheel Enhancement GT3 Cup up into fourth place by the twelfth lap. Lux pitted the Porsche on lap fourteen and handed the wheel over to Porsche Factory Driver, Wolf Henzler of Nurtingen, Germany. Unfortunately, within a few corners, Henzler reported that he could not shift the Porsche from fourth to fifth gear. The #86 was brought back to the garage and the Farnbacher Loles crew quickly swapped out the transmission allowing Henzler to rejoin the race and finish in 13th place.
Despite fighting with illness, Lux made an impressive start and is looking forward to the next event.
"We started out well, but it was really hard as I have pretty bad case of bronchitis," Lux said. "When I handed the car over to Wolf, I was pretty sick. We got up to the front, but as soon as Wolf went back out, it looked like a bearing let go in the gearbox. The crew did an amazing job, as usual, but we were too many laps down to savage the race. We'll get it back together and get it ready for Homestead."
Henzler was once again impressed with the Farnbacher Loles Racing crew's capability.
"Eric was running really good, it didn't take him long to work his way up," Henzler said. "But as soon as I took over and left the pits, I knew we had a problem. The crew did a great job swapping out the gearbox but we still had to return to the race several laps down. I wish the team good luck in Homestead."
Farnbacher Loles Team Principal, Gregory Loles, reflected on the result after the race. "A lot of people thought we would just coast into the Championship considering the points lead we had. But it would be unfair to the series, to the fans and ultimately to ourselves if we didn't race hard all the time. We had a chance for the win, so naturally we went for it. I'm very proud of our drivers, our engineers, and our crew, for the effort they all put in. We came to Miller as we do to every track to win. While we came up a bit short, it was an incredibly exciting race. There is still a little more work we need to do at the last race, and then we'll have achieved all of our goals for the season."
Qualifying for the Homestead Grand Prix at Homestead-Miami Speedway begins on Friday, October 9 at 3:15pm ET with the two hour, 30 minute race starting on Saturday, October 10 at 1:08pm ET.
SPEED television coverage of the Homestead Grand Prix at Homestead-Miami Speedway will begin at 1:00pm ET on Saturday, October 10, 2009.