Daytona 24: Farnbacher Loles Racing race report

Farnbacher Loles Racing showed its championship form during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, although the race didn't go the way they had hoped. The team had the momentum of the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT team and driver championships, a ...

Farnbacher Loles Racing showed its championship form during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, although the race didn't go the way they had hoped. The team had the momentum of the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT team and driver championships, a strong 32-man driver lineup and a talented, cohesive crew. But wins at Daytona require an element of luck, as well, and it wasn't with Farnbacher Loles on Saturday and Sunday.

Farnbacher Loles set the two fastest GT laps during the race and led the fast-lap stats for 18 hours of the 24-hour race. 2007 Rolex Series GT champion Dirk Werner posted the fastest lap in the No. 87 (GT Champion) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup -- one minute 51.240 seconds -- at the six-hour mark. He held it until Wolf Henzler, driving the No. 86 (Power) Porsche passed him at 10h15 with a time of 1:51.285.

Four Farnbacher Loles drivers (Henzler, Jorg Bergmeister, Leh Keen and Werner) and two cars (Nos. 86 and 87) led the GT class five times during the first half of the race.

The race settled down for most of the team cars during the final six hours of the race, but the No. 86 (Power) Porsche was plagued by issues with the car's clutch hydraulic system. The No. 83 (Fitness) car also encountered problems and retired from the race.

The No. 87 (GT Champion) Porsche topped the Farnbacher Loles finishers with an eighth-place finish, giving full-season drivers Dominik Farnbacher and Dirk Werner a solid start in Rolex Series GT points. The No. 88 (Doncaster Racing) Porsche demonstrated Doncaster's consistency and finished 12th, with the No. 84 (Team Seattle) car right behind in 13th. The No. 86 (Power) Porsche was a disappointing 19th after a leading performance in the race, and the No. 85 (Team Seattle) car finished 21st. The No. 83 (Fitness) car and the No. 89 (Italian) Porsche retired from the race before the finish.

note: Team Seattle raised $439,000 for the Children's Hospital and Regional Care Center in Seattle during this year's Rolex 24 for a total of more than $3.1 million in 12 years.

Gregory Loles, team owner: "I want to offer big, big congratulations to Mazda. I'm sure they're going to be a very worthy opponent all season. And my heartfelt congratulations to TRG. They represented the Porsche marque incredibly well. Unfortunately, we didn't have the luck ourselves this time, but we're very happy with the performance of all our drivers and our crew. Monday morning we'll start preparing for race two -- it's a long season. Ironically, we're better off coming out of Daytona this year than we were last year, so we're looking forward to another strong fight. "

Tim Bergmeister, No. 83 driver: "It was a new experience for me in Daytona, my first 24-hour race here in the U.S. It's different. I know the 24 hours of the Nordschleife [Nurburgring], of Tokachi, of Bahrain, but this one is special. I had really good teammates and the car worked well, but we had a lot of bad luck during the race. But that's the way it is."

Chris Bingham, No. 84 driver: "The car was great all night. We spent a total of maybe 20 minutes of out-time, but it was all in the pit area. We didn't go into the garage one time. Our longest time out was maybe 10 minutes, so it's a testament to this crew, our drivers and everything about this team this year. We really put together a great program with Farnbacher Loles and all the Team Seattle guys, and everything we did for the Children's Hospital is incredible."

Ross Bentley, No. 85 driver: "I guess we broke rule No. 1, which is stay out of the pits and the garage. Other than that, we had a good race. But the coolest thing about this race is there will be close to half a million dollars going back to the Children's Hospital. Personally, to see Don [Kitch Jr, Team Seattle founder] drive the wheels off the car through the race -- better than he ever has -- and for him to finally get to take the checkered flag is great. He deserves it."

Wolf Henzler, No. 86 driver: "The crew did a very good job. It's always very hard for them. We are five drivers so we can go and have some rest, but the crew can't. They have to work the whole 24 hours. Unfortunately, we didn't get the result everybody wanted. We wanted to win the race, but you need a lot of luck also, not only a fast car. I'm not happy for Eric and Lee -- they're running the season together and they're starting without a good result, they don't get many points. I hope and I wish that they will have better results during the season and hope they will be back in the championship."

Dirk Werner, No. 87 driver: "It's not the result we hoped for. For the championship, it's not so bad -- last year we started worse. But you don't come to Daytona just to be part of it, you come to win the race. It looked good from the beginning, but then soon we had some problems and through the whole race, the problems never ended. I think we are pretty lucky to get an eighth-place in the end, and for the championship, nothing is lost."

Greg Wilkins, No. 88 driver: "The end result doesn't show how well the car performed. We were very unlucky in the early going of the race, so that really set us back, but we have been on the pace since then. It's a tribute to the Farnbacher Loles team, Greg Loles and our team -- the guys did a great job. And to our co-drivers. We'd never driven together before and the chemistry was really good. They're very nice guys and very quick guys. Maybe we can get together again later in the year."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Bingham , Jörg Bergmeister , Ross Bentley , Greg Wilkins , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Dirk Werner , Tim Bergmeister