Road America: Tafel Racing race report

No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Battles to Third Place at Road America; No. 73 Captures Ninth ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 9, 2008 - The battles between Ferrari and Porsche have become legendary over the decades but few times has the struggle been as ...

No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Battles to Third Place at Road America; No. 73 Captures Ninth

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc., August 9, 2008 - The battles between Ferrari and Porsche have become legendary over the decades but few times has the struggle been as physical as it was in today's Generac 500 at Road America. The No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC of Dirk Muller (a native of Germany living in Monaco) and Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) finished third from the class pole position - the Cumming, Ga.-based team's first of the season and first in the American Le Mans Series - with battle scars on all corners of the Ferrari. The No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC co-driven by Alex Figge (Denver, Col.) and Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) ran as high as third on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit but would finish ninth after an incident cost them several minutes in the pits to repair damage. Tafel Racing has three Series race victories to-date - St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio - and five podium finishes in seven 2008 starts. The two-car effort remains second in the Team Championship 18 points behind Flying Lizard Motorsports. Four races remain in the 2008 American Le Mans Series GT2 class season.

No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC Drivers: Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany), Dirk Muller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco)

Dominik Farnbacher started from his first American Le Mans Series pole position and held the top spot for most of the race's first 30 minutes. In the process, the young German set the fastest race lap (two minutes, 7.958 seconds). It is Farnbacher's second consecutive fastest race lap, the first coming in the team's Mid-Ohio victory. At the end of the race's first hour, Technical Director Tony Dowe (Cumming, Ga.), betting on a fuel conservation race, called for the Bell Micro Ferrari's first pit stop to be for fuel only - double- stinting Farnbacher and the Michelin tires. The strategy played-out ideally over the next three hours as everyone fought to maximize fuel mileage. Dirk Muller took over driving duties just short of the race's midpoint and would see the most heated battle on the race's final lap. Despite being an endurance event, the entire race came down to the last half of the last lap. With a late race caution removing any concern of the need for fuel stops for all the front runners, it became a head-to-head fight among the best in the GT2 class. Muller took the white flag in third position chasing the top-two runners who were in a dire battle of their own. The leading Ferrari would spin in front of the eventual race-winning No. 87 Porsche and the No. 71. Muller moved into second only to be hit in Turn Five by the No. 45 Porsche while battling. While the damage did not eliminate the Tafel entry it did allow the Porsche passed dropping the Bell Micro No. 71 to third. Farnbacher and Muller maintain second in the Driver's Championship; seven points behind the drivers of the No. 45 Porsche.

No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC Drivers: Alex Figge (Denver, Col.), Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.)

Alex Figge and Jim Tafel ran their strongest race of the season at the four hour Road America event. Figge started the race from seventh and held it for the first 45 minutes. On Lap 40, the race's second caution period, team engineer David Fullerton (Cumming. Ga.) called for Figge to stay on course moving the No. 73 Ferrari to third in class. Figge remained in the top-five until stopping for fuel at the one hour, 14-minute mark. At two-hours, Jim Tafel took over the No. 73 in the sixth position. For 45 minutes Tafel held in the top-10 until spinning on fluid in Turn 14. Contact with the tire wall at the end of the spin resulted in damage to the left rear wheel and bodywork. A stop for repairs dropped the car to ninth, five laps behind the class leaders. Tafel would take the checkered flag in that position to earn the No. 73 team's fourth top-10 of the season.


Tony Dowe, Technical Director: "It was a good impression of World War Three wasn't it? I am a bit disappointed at the end but we are getting down to the part of the season where you take no prisoners. With all the yellow flags that came out it bunched the field up and you got a real knockdown, drag-out in the end. It was pretty much as I thought a fuel consumption race. We had to make fuel. The championship is tighter than ever which means everybody is going to be a little bit more tightly wound at the next race."

Dominik Farnbacher, Driver, No. 71: "From the beginning I was driving normally. I was not pushing very hard. The car was very, very quick in the beginning. There were two safety car procedures in a row where it kept the gap close so it was not an advantage for me to be quick. I had some bad luck with traffic and lost two positions. Our strategy from that point on worked out perfectly. We double stinted our Michelin tires when I was in the car. In the beginning the tires were perfect. They dropped-off a little bit at the end of the double stint. We collected points and it is good. There are still four races to go and a lot can happen."

Dirk Muller, Driver, No. 71: "It was not the easiest race for anybody because of the circumstances. There were lots of yellows which I was not expecting, lots of confusion in the beginning with the time keeping [the race was delayed 11 minutes for a timing and scoring malfunction]. I really had to push the car. My first stint in the car was amazingly good. At the end it was very difficult for me because there was no right mirror [the glass was broken when Farnbacher was overtaken for the lead] and the [number] 45 car was losing huge amounts of oil. My windscreen was completely covered in oil and with the sunset it was like a blind ride. The final lap was just all over the place. Going towards Turn Five I had contact under braking and I went sideways. Going out of the corner I nearly lost the car and made contact as well. It was really tough to get the car back on the track. I am happy with third. We lost a few points to the leaders but still everything is wide, wide open. We need to just look forward and keep pushing."

Jim Tafel, Driver, No. 73: "Alex did a really good job during his stint. He was having trouble with the gearbox on the up-shifts; I felt it more on the downshifts when I got in the car. We took a roll of the dice and kept him out during a caution and we had to fuel under green. It was a good gamble. We got up to third place. Alex did a great two hours. I was working on my times and something [fluid] had to be down on the track. I had a massive spin in [turn] 14 and went into the tire wall. We fixed the damage and just got right back up on it. The car had a push after that but it was kill or be killed out there. It made for an interesting evening. I am very proud of the 71 car for the podium and the whole team."

-credit: tr

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Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Alex Figge , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher
Teams HART