The Farnbacher Loles Racing team had very specific goals entering the American Le Mans series race at St. Petersburg, Florida: to maintain the pole-wining speed they showed at Sebring, while eliminating the reliability issues that temporarily ...
The Farnbacher Loles Racing team had very specific goals entering the American Le Mans series race at St. Petersburg, Florida: to maintain the pole-wining speed they showed at Sebring, while eliminating the reliability issues that temporarily side-lined them in the season opener. A little luck wouldn't hurt either.
In practice and qualifying, they showed no loss of pace as Wolf Henzler put the #87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the front row next to the Risi Ferrari of Jaime Melo. Henzler felt he could have taken the pole if not for a red flag during the qualifying session, which came out during his hot lap. Nonetheless, the front row starting position put the team in great shape for the race, which is one of the shortest on the schedule. Running on the narrow street circuit also makes passing difficult so a good start here is important.
The race unfolded nicely for the team as Henzler took the lead on lap 10 and seemed in control of the GT2 Class, holding the position until the German driver ducked into the pits on lap 38 with a severe oversteering problem. The stop quickly turned into another heartbreak as a major problem was discovered at the right rear. Debris from another car had lodged in the wheel well, shredding the right rear tire, which in turn cut the brake line. The tire rubber wrapped around the line and suspension necessitating lengthy repairs.
With Dirk Werner now behind the wheel, the #87 re-entered the race down 16 laps. Dirk showed the car was still on pace by setting the race's fastest lap at 1:14.373. As at Sebring, to get points at St. Pete a competitor must complete at least 70% of the overall race winner's laps. The team had no trouble meeting that standard with their seventh place finish. For the second straight race though, it was a disappointing end to a weekend that held such promise.
The American Le Mans Series heads to Long Beach, CA for the next round on April 18th.