IN HIS OWN WORDS: GREGORY LOLES "We're really close." The saying might be overused but not in the case of Farnbacher Loles Racing. The first six races of the American Le Mans Series were more often than not filled with misfortune and just...
IN HIS OWN WORDS: GREGORY LOLES
"We're really close." The saying might be overused but not in the case of Farnbacher Loles Racing. The first six races of the American Le Mans Series were more often than not filled with misfortune and just general bad luck - podium finishes at St. Petersburg and Lime Rock not withstanding. Persistence paid off two weeks ago with a well-earned GT2 class victory in its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Road America with drivers Dirk Werner, Richard Westbrook and Bryce Miller. Naturally team principal Gregory Loles thinks may serve as a springboard for more good fortune down the road.
Question: Before Road America, how many times were you asked when the team would win its first race?
Answer: You know the party line...everyone feels like they're close. But we really were. It goes all the way back to Sebring actually. We've had a good car all year long. We feel that we've reached a good place now. Clearly what happened at Mid-Ohio was very disappointing where we beat ourselves when we had the best car. We just messed up. We can make up stories but the racing gods weren't with us. We could have gotten our pit stop done, gotten the wave-by and that would have been it. We've now put together all the elements and we were looking at 2009 as the year where we would be a major threat.
Q: So when will the team win its second race?
A: We really like Mosport. We're in an interesting situation where in Europe we're running a Ferrari and a Porsche. The Ferrari clearly took steps at Road America. Now there is another step coming at Mosport, and the Ferrari will be very strong. Richard (Westbrook) has a conflict with FIA-GT but we've gotten Pierre Kaffer in the car and he knows the track and the Series really well. We knew this would be a year where we would have to learn a lot of things. But we feel we're pretty close and we're pressuring Porsche to make sure they don't fall behind and give us a good, strong package and car.
Q: Dirk Werner has really opened a lot of eyes this year, especially having to partner with a number of different teammates, with Pierre joining this weekend at Mosport. What qualities does he bring to the table?
A: The whole Dirk story started a few years ago when Wolf Henzler was running Supercup for Farnbacher in Europe. He had the maturity to do well, and Horst (Farnbacher) said he had another guy for a second car, and that guy was Dirk. Wolf won nine races and Dirk nearly finished second that year. I remember Horst saying that it would be hard keeping Wolf around with an American Le Mans Series program still a couple of years away. But he said Dirk was the one to keep.
I'm biased, but I think we can put him up against anyone in the GT2 class right now. And I'll take that bet. We're giving him a good car but he's just very special and is very fast at learning tracks. He had never been Road America before the last race. But it takes him three laps and he's doing 90 percent of what the car can do. He has an incredible personality and he'll be with us for a long time. I already have a commitment that he will have an experienced US factory driver with him full-time next year. Next year is going to be interesting to say the least with BMW coming. Porsche doesn't like losing to Ferrari. But it's absolutely devastating to lose to BMW!
Q: We'll use that as a segue. Are there any late-season surprises that you could share? It sounds like the 2009 program is well under way.
A: We're definitely working on a second car but we're not sure there will be one for Petit Le Mans. We don't want to overextend ourselves. A second car would be very much a gentlemen's car and we don't think that would be a wise move. Typically that kind of car would have more issues on a weekend and we wouldn't want that to detract from the success we want to have there.
Petit Le Mans is a very big race for us. That race will be good for the Porsche. And clearly it's an automatic invitation for Le Mans and we would very much like to go to France next year. If we could put up a big result in the race, that might just lock it up. We need to have multiple Porsche teams from the US racing at Le Mans every year.
The Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 24 from Mosport International Raceway just outside of Toronto. The eighth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series will be aired live on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio will air the race live on XM Channel 166. Live radio coverage also will be available from American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.