Second place in the GT category for Pierre Ehret at 24 Hours of Le Mans
For a long time it promised to be a victory for Pierre Ehret at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but shortly before the end of the race severe problems with the gearbox crept up and the team had to contend itself with second place.
Together with Dominik Farnbacher and Lars Erik Nielsen,Pierre Ehret started the racing weekend at Le Mans.
Dominik Farnbacher was able to take a preliminary pole-position with the Yokohama's "Super Qualifying Tyres" until "Imsa Performance Matmut" and "Scuderia Ecosse" undercut the time. In the end "Farnbacher Racing" managed the third best time with 4:04.897 min. on the 13.65 kilometres long track and started the race from second row with its Porsche 996 GT3. Before the race Pierre Ehret showed optimism: "Our qualifying was nearly perfect. For me it was important to drive as many kilometers as possible, since I was not present during the first test a few weeks ago. I think our driver-combination is well choosen and if the car will work properly, we are able to reach podium."
The Porsche driver should be right. Lars Erik Nielsen drove the first stint at five PM in front of 200.000 fans. It became clear early on that the Farnbacher Porsche was very fast and was able to take the lead in GT2 category early in the race. The subsequent stints of Pierre Ehret and Dominik Farnbacher went off without a hitch, too. In one of the stints Dominik set the fastest lap of the race in the GT2 category, which prevailed until the end of the race
During the course of the race the team realized that shifting gears became harder but did not pay much attention to it.During the night sessions everything went smoothly and the team ordered the drivers to slow down their pace as the gap to the chasers was big enough. Ehret managed his personal best time with 4:10 min. during his night stint, before he was told to slow down and gearbox problems became worse.
In the early morning hours the team had a comfortable 7 lap lead, but then trouble began sixty minutes before the end. Teammanager Horst Farnbacher sent out Dominik Farnbacher for the last stint, when due to the increasing problems in shifting gears, suddenly the gear lever broke. Being stranded on the track with a broken off gear lever, Dominik restarted the car all by himself by breaking off the handle to the cool box and using that part as an ingenious device to replace the broken off gear lever to get the car back in gear and return to the pits, where the crew reaplaced the broken off device.
Before the incident Farnbacher Racing had a seven lap lead to the second placed Panoz Esperante. But when the Farnbacher Porsche left the pits again, its lead had disappeard and the Panoz was now half a lap ahead and eventually took the win.
"Of Course it is a pity and at first I was really disappointed", stated Ehret after the race. "But we can be really satisfied with our performance. A second place at Le Mans is surely a brilliant result. Especially the Yokohama tires in combination with the car performed flawlessly. Our big advantage was our competitive driver line up and our pit crew."