Homestead seals Championships for Farnbacher Loles Racing with podium finish The Farnbacher Loles Racing team had two goals at the Grand-Am Rolex Series season finale in Homestead, Florida. The first was to merely take the green flag in the ...
Homestead seals Championships for Farnbacher Loles Racing with podium finish
The Farnbacher Loles Racing team had two goals at the Grand-Am Rolex Series season finale in Homestead, Florida. The first was to merely take the green flag in the #87 Shock Doctor/Intercity Lines/PlanetPorsche Porsche GT3 Cup, which would clinch the Team Championship their second Rolex Series championship in only three years. The second goal was for Leh Keen and Dirk Werner to take the driver's Championship. They needed a little more time for that. Each driver had to log a minimum of 30 minutes behind the wheel to mathematically clinch the driver's title.
Keen of Charleston, SC started the race and ran a consistent pace near the front, while staying clear of trouble. As the 30-minute mark approached, a full course yellow bunched the field. As the clock went past 30, and with 25 laps in the book, the decision was made to pit for fuel, tires and a driver change. With Keen locked in, it was now Werner's turn to grab his share of the Championship. Werner, of Kissenbruck, Germany, also drove at a steady pace but was able to move up to fourth in the GT Class. When Dirk had also passed his 30-minute mark, Engineer Lars Giersling gave him the good news. Werner let out a holler over the radio as the achievement was well-received by the young German.
The sister car, the #86 was started by Canadian Dave Lacey who had qualified the #86 Wheel Enhancement Porsche GT3 Cup in the 14th spot. Lacey was running laps at a solid pace when a problem developed with the transmission. The crew worked hard to fix the car and get it back out. Eric Lux jumped in and was eventually able to join the race, but the car was down more than 50 laps. Eric did his best to give the 86 a respectable showing, in spite of the long odds. It was a difficult finale race of the 2009 season for Lux who had as much bad luck as his sister car had good, in spite of his two podium finishes. Eric was philosophical about the finish. "It was not the way we wanted to end the season, but thanks to the crew for getting the car fixed and back on track. I'm looking forward to next year and a fresh start."
Meanwhile, Werner was not coasting to the finish. With eight minutes to go, and the field coming off one of numerous caution periods, Werner was in third spot and looked to have a battle on his hands to hold off cars behind with fresh rubber. A massive crash took out a number of cars and threw the track under a full course yellow. The clean-up was too extensive for a restart, so the #87 finished the race in third, to put a exclamation point on a fantastic season with yet another podium.
The drivers were clearly enjoying their achievement and looking forward to celebrating with the team, family and friends. Keen reflected on the race and the build-up. "Earlier this week I couldn't even sleep. But I was able to quickly settle in once I got to the track. I decided early on I would give the car to Dirk once I got my 30 minutes in. During my stint, I was able to open up a little gap on the guys behind me. The car was great and I could just cruise throughout my stint. I didn't have to push too hard. But I kept waiting for Lars to come on the radio telling me that it was time to come in. I really want to thank Greg Loles for this Championship. And Lars and Bob and the crew. Everyone did an amazing job."
Dirk Werner was soaked with champagne after the podium celbration, and enjoyed the feeling. "I was pretty nervous when Leh was in the car. But he did a great job. It was like a Sunday drive. When I was in the car, I lost the tension a little bit. But once the 30 minutes was done, it was really cool to drive and I was able to focus. The car was really good in spite of the conditions. For me, it was really fun to drive and at the end, and it was pretty aggressive out there. The team really gave us a great car all season. For me, it is awesome to win a second championship in only three years here in the States. It was only possible with this team and I'm very happy."
Team principal Gregory Loles was enjoying his second Grand-Am Championship as a team owner. "We started the year with one objective, and we put a good bunch of people together, just as in 2007. But I have to say, this is even more special. In '07 we won out of consistency, where this year we were able to win races outright. We had a very strong car at almost every venue. We really can't be prouder of these two guys, who just gave it their all, even when maybe they shouldn't have been giving it their all. But as a team, we come to every race expecting to be on the podium, and this is the result. Congrats to the whole team."