Sebring: Tafel Racing preview

Tafel Racing Well Prepared for First Sebring 12-Hour Cumming, Georgia, March 8, 2007 -- New comers Tafel Racing are well prepared to take on their first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to be run on ...

Tafel Racing Well Prepared for First Sebring 12-Hour

Cumming, Georgia, March 8, 2007 -- New comers Tafel Racing are well prepared to take on their first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to be run on Saturday, March 17th.

The Georgia based team has been working flat-out on their new Porsche 997 RSR racers in preparation for the once around the clock race next week at the Central Florida 3.7-mile, 17-turn historic converted airport circuit. The team is coming off of the January test as the fastest GT2 team with Wolf Henzler posting a time of 2:01.678, some two seconds under the current track GT2 qualifying record. However, the team has not stood still, they have continued on an aggressive preparation and development program to win the GT2 class at Sebring, not just the Porsche cup.

The Tafel driver lineup in the No. 71 Porsche 997 RSR will be Robin Liddell, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long. In the No. 73 Tafel entry will be Jim Tafel, Dominik Farnbacher and Ian James. Every one of the drivers has Sebring experience except for Tafel.

"Ninety-percent of the cars in the GT2 field are brand new this year," Tony Dowe, Tafel technical director said. "The Ferraris I would still classify as new, even though they have a half-season of racing to their credit. We have been continuing to develop our cars with the thought of getting out of the box quickly at Sebring to set us up for the rest of the season."

Wolf Henzler set the bar at the January test with his quick time, but the German knows that that performance counts for nothing.

"The team has not rested with those results, they have continued on a strong development curve," Henzler explained. "We made lots of progress in our test at Sebring in January. We are competing against proven ALMS teams and we are the new guys. However, we have a lot of experience with the Porsche and we have a good handle on the new car."

Robin Liddell with a best Sebring finish of third is prepared for a 12-hour sprint race.

"I think the race will be extremely competitive and as we saw last year it was more or less a sprint race," Liddell said. "Having said that, championship wise, it is important to finish well, so we will not take too many risks. Good pit work and consistent stints will be the key, as well as a wee-bit of luck. I think the car will be reliable, it raced well at the Spa 24 Hours last yearand since then has had quite a bit of development, so it will definitely be a serious car. I believe we will be one of the quickest cars out there and of course it is normal to measure yourself against the other Porsche cars, however we are looking for race wins. My impression is that the Ferrari has another level to go to, but as always you never really know what the competition has until you start to push them, so hopefully this will happen from the get go. The team has learneda lot running the 997 Cup car last year, and some of that will carry over to the new car, so I expect the car to be a little quicker, but also more consistent over a stint."

Dominik Farnbacher is ready for the Sebring adventure and the physical strain of the 12-hour.

"Sebring with the Tafel guys will be a fun adventure for me," Farnbacher said. "Driving with Jim and Ian in the new car there will require a lot of focus, but we will be ready. For the drivers it will be hot and the bumpy circuit also takes some energy from you, so we will be physically ready as well. The team has really completed a lot of work since the test. We were the fastest there at the January test, but that really means nothing. The teams will be ready to show their stuff in the first practice."

Jim Tafel knows what it takes to field a team in what will be the toughest class in this years ALMS series.

"If you stand still you will be left behind," Tafel noted. "Tony and the guys have been full speed on the development side with the new car. Although we learned a lot at the test, we are really bringing a race package that we have confidence in will be at the front of the GT2 field. Our driver lineup, I believe, is the strongest in the class. Although we are new to the series, with new cars, we are coming at it with a fresh view. Our goal will be to make a strong first impression by fielding good looking, competitive race cars."

Ian James comes back with the team he has a history with at Daytona and looks to win a third class Sebring win.

"The key will be to stay out of the pits and run consistent from start to finish and avoid incidents with other cars," James explains. "Any new car is a variable, but everything on the car is pretty much tried and tested and the 997 RSR has already done the Spa 24 hour last year, so reliability should be good. The January test is always a bit of a lottery but, it showed that the team already has good pace that can be carried forward to the race. Tafel's engineering department never stands still, so you can bet the cars will be better."

-credit: tr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Robin Liddell , Ian James , Patrick Long , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher