TAFEL RACING REFLECTIONS: DIRK MÃœLLER It almost seems like Dirk MÃ¼ller never left the American Le Mans Series. In his first full season back since 2001, a year after he won the Series' GT driver championship. After driving...
TAFEL RACING REFLECTIONS: DIRK MÜLLER
It almost seems like Dirk Müller never left the American Le Mans Series. In his first full season back since 2001, a year after he won the Series' GT driver championship. After driving in seven races in 2007, Müller joined Tafel Racing and pumped championship expectations into the program, which took off to the tune of four GT2 victories and a runner-up finish in the class team championship.
Question: Looking back on the 2008 season, what is the first memory that jumps out at you?
Answer: It is always the last victory, so saying that, the victory in the last round in Laguna jumps out.
Q: What do you think was your best driving moment of the year?
A: I would say I had a couple, which I really enjoyed! For sure the first one is Long Beach with keeping the Porsches behind me. There is also Road America with the really exciting last lap, and Mosport when I overtook Bergmeister in the second-to-last lap.
Q: What do you think was the best moment for the team this year?
A: With winning four times it makes it difficult to point out one. I would say the first win in St. Petersburg was great after having a difficult and rough start in Sebring. It gave us a boost for the rest of the season.
Q: What do you recall as your biggest surprise within the team in 2008?
A: It is quite simple. The team impressed me a lot with its incredible speed on understanding a brand new car after switching to Ferrari. We had just a few weeks to really get deep into the car and from the first moment in Sebring we were there!
Q: Your future is being discussed on all of the message boards, forums and blogs. What are your thoughts of having your future driving opportunities being discussed so excitedly by the fans?
A: Well, I take it as a compliment. Obviously we as a team had a great year and this is being recognized by the fans. Thanks a lot for that.
Q: While every win is special and important, what victory, or podium, was the most meaningful to you this season?
A: It is definitely Long Beach. Shortly before my stint I had a handful of ants in my helmet. Trying to get them out and get ready at the same time was already a challenge. Then, while jumping over the wall, I didn't see fresh Michelin tires and Tony pushed me to get ready in the car in world- record time. I knew this was going to be a challenge as well. It was still early in the race, knowing all others have fresh tires, and my huge advantage, track-wise, got killed after the yellows. Then with having two Porsches breathing down my neck, pushing hard, I pulled out my trick box from touring car and stayed ahead. So, with a good car, a good teammate, a good crew and strategy we won a fantastic race.
Q: With a full season - a successful season with four wins - behind you, what do you see as the biggest change between the American Le Mans Series in 1999-2001 and 2008?
A: That is simple. I thought back in '01 that this is a great championship, but it became even more competitive, professional and it is now the best Series I have ever seen.
The next, and final, installment of "Reflections of Tafel Racing" will be a Q&A with owner/driver Jim Tafel. Tafel drove in eight races with a season and career-best fourth-place finish at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. It was Tafel's second season driving the No. 73 Tafel Racing entry, his first in the Ferrari F430 GT.