TAFEL RACING REFLECTIONS: DOMINIK FARNBACHER Tafel Racing's Dominik Farnbacher came of age in 2008. The 24-year-old German didn't just score his first American Le Mans Series victory last season...he won four times and also finished second in...
TAFEL RACING REFLECTIONS: DOMINIK FARNBACHER
Tafel Racing's Dominik Farnbacher came of age in 2008. The 24-year-old German didn't just score his first American Le Mans Series victory last season...he won four times and also finished second in the GT2 championship with Dirk Müller. Farnbacher already has reason to look forward to 2009 with a contract extension that will see him back behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 GT.
Question Looking back on the 2008 season, what is the first memory that jumps out at you?
Answer: My first memory is what a great season for all of us as a team and drivers. But there is also a bittersweet taste involved. We could have won the championship if we wouldn't have had bad luck in Detroit and Sebring. But that's how it is. Second place is also very good. I am very happy that Dirk and Tony (Dowe, Technical Director) taught me a lot this year that I can use to aim for the championship next year.
Q: What do you think the turning point was for Tafel Racing between 2007 and 2008?
A: I think the turning point was that in 2007 the team was new in that series. Our goal in 2007 was to learn as much as possible about the American Le Mans Series strategies and race tracks. You could see we did our homework with four wins. That is very good. Also, not to forget, we are a private team and we fought a championship with a factory team. If you look at that, then it was an outstanding performance for Tafel Racing. So I think we will be a lot stronger for 2009.
Q: What do you think your best moment as a driver was in 2008?
A: My best driving moment this year was every time I was in the car. I had so much fun driving for the team and the F430. I am still young and I have to get my experience up to the others but in almost every race I felt good, and I was satisfied with what I did. In Road America it was very good in the first hour when I escaped Melo and Bergmeister and held onto the lead. I was very proud there.
Q: What do you think the team's best moment was in 2008?
A: The best moment for the team was in Mid-Ohio. We came back after a few bad races for the championship run. After we won the race everybody on the team was at the victory party and you could see in their faces how proud everybody was after that incredible win there.
Q: What event are you most looking forward to in 2009?
A: I look forward the most to Sebring. I mean it's the beginning of the season and the cards are mixed new again; new teams, new drivers, new cars. That is so exciting. You never know who will be strong and who will run for the title. I can't wait for the first practice in Sebring but, all in all, I had fun every race last year. I can't wait to see the regulation changes to all the GT2 cars and the many fans showing up at the races to cheer us. That is so amazing.
Q: How do you think Tafel Racing has evolved to become a championship contender?
A: I think the team has become a championship team after this season. Tony Dowe and Dave Fullerton (engineer on the No. 73) developed the cars. Scott Besst (damper engineer and data acquisition) gave us the best dampers. Mike Menapace (data acquisition and strategy) the best strategies and Ferrari the best car. Lee (Webb, mechanic) and PK (Peter Kaczmar, No. 1 mechanic on the No. 71) gave us the best prepared car ever. So it was teamwork, which helped us being so successful this year. Of course we made mistakes but mistakes are there to make them better next year. For next year the team will be even stronger. Also without our sponsors Bell Micro, East Coast Jewelry, and Ulysse Nardin, they made it possible and supported us. It's a package of everything which decides a win or loss. In our case everything worked out very well. On the drivers' perspective, Dirk brought in all his experience from his American Le Mans Series seasons before and his driving skills from the FIA and World Touring Car Championship. And I brought in happiness and calmness!
The next installment of "Reflections of Tafel Racing" will be a Q&A with 2000 American Le Mans Series GT2 Champion Dirk Müller. Müller finished second in the driver championship sharing the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GT with Dominik Farnbacher. Müller won his 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th career American Le Mans Series GT2 races in 2008. He also added his 14th career pole position.