Detroit: Tafel Racing preview

Tafel Racing Ready to Take to Island Circuit in Detroit Tafel Racing has arrived on the Belle Isle racing circuit in the middle of the Detroit River for round nine of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) to be run on Saturday, September ...

Tafel Racing Ready to Take to Island Circuit in Detroit

Tafel Racing has arrived on the Belle Isle racing circuit in the middle of the Detroit River for round nine of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) to be run on Saturday, September 1.

The Belle Isle circuit has been resurrected since last used some six years ago. The American Le Mans Series will be the first sports cars to grace the 2.096-mile, 14- turn modified park circuit. The tight confines of a street course are no stranger to the Tafel team. This will be the fourth street race of the season for the team from Cumming, Georgia.

To date Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell have been able to put together three podium finishes at Sebring, Houston and Miller Motorsports Park. The duo would like to use Detroit to get some momentum going into the upcoming Petit Le Mans, which is a home race for the team.

"We have had a tough couple of races with early contact affecting our car," Liddell said. "If we don't have any contact or problems we are looking for a very good race. It should play into our strengths with what we have done with the car. We did well at St. Petersburg and Houston earlier in the year, so this should be a good event for us. Some of the street courses are a big compromise, The Detroit circuit has a good bit of thought put into it. It is narrow in places, but has a good flow. It is like some of the more established street courses. The development that has gone on here is a great effort and should it should be a good show on Saturday."

Wolf Henzler, who is teamed with Liddell, in the No. 71 Tafel Porsche likes the track, but is weary of the slow corners and lack of passing lanes.

"From riding around the track in the rental car it appears to be bumpy," Henzler said. "There are a lot of tight and slow corners. We will have to see when we get in the Porsche and get up to speed to see how slow they are. Overall it is a great setting for racing on Belle Isle. The GT2 cars can be as fast as the GT1 or the prototypes is some of the sections. So traffic will be tough and it will be difficult for the prototypes to get around us. The downforce of the prototypes won't work very well on such a tight course. The straights are not long, so they will be stuck behind the GT2 cars. Houston was the same, so everyone will have to be patient. They have to get by so there may be a lot of contact on Saturday."

Dominik Farnbacher has had a string of tough race starts with contact early in the race. The young German is hungry for a good finish and is looking at the Detroit circuit as a good opportunity to perform in the No. 73 Porsche.

"We drove around the track during the hurricane yesterday," Farnbacher said. "It reminds me of Houston and Monaco, but a little bumpy. One mistake and you will be out of the race. The city circuits really tend to separate the drivers. Risk is fast, too risky and you are out of the race. I like to drive these tracks with the tight corners. Almost every turn is blind and that requires confidence and it is also a big challenge."

Jim Tafel, team owner and driver of the No. 73, is ready for all of the team's efforts to date to come together for a successful weekend.

"It is tough to get a gauge on a track like this by walking around or driving it in a rental car," Tafel said. "I have studied the track map and have taken a few laps, but nothing is the same when you are up to speed on slicks in a Porsche with 22 other cars around you. We have done better on the street circuits than we have the natural road courses. We had a fuel problem at St. Pete and my suspension broke at Houston. I am hoping that we can use this race as a turning point heading into Petit Le Mans. We have had some tough races lately, but its time to turn it around and get some good finishes. With three races left we are not standing still."

"We had a lot of work from Mosport, so we stayed on a couple of days to get the cars ready," said Tony Dowe, team technical director. "The crew has done a great job to prepare the cars for Detroit. The street circuits have actually been a highlight of our season so far. Hopefully we will continue with strong runs on these closed streets and get a solid finish for this hard working team."

Tafel Racing would like to thank team sponsors ANCA and Tornos for their support.

Round nine of the ALMS Series will be run at Detroit's Belle Isle Grand Prix Circuit will be televised live on the SPEED Channel, tape delayed, starting at 9:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, September 1.


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Series ALMS
Drivers Robin Liddell , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher