Farnbacher Loles Racing qualified third on the GT grid for Saturday's American Le Mans Series race in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dirk Werner of Kissenbrück, Germany, lapped the 1.8-mile street circuit in one minute 12.581 seconds at an average speed of 89.28 mph to put the No. 87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR near the front of the class.
The team, Werner and his co-driver, Marc Basseng of Leutenbach, Germany, are rookies on the tight St. Petersburg track. They used two brief practice sessions to fine-tune the setup on their Porsche, which had to be rebuilt after a race-ending hit during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring three weeks ago. Werner was happy with the resulting qualifying effort, but surprised by the class pole position time of 1:11.745 (90.32 mph).
"We're here for the first time – both drivers and team – and the car was pretty much damaged after Sebring. The gap is a little bit too big, but both cars in front of us are front-runners in the ALMS and established drivers and cars, so for our team, it's a pretty good qualifying result. We have a good chance to finish on the podium, and that would be awesome," Werner said.
"It's very difficult to overtake here and I think it will be pretty much a sprint race to the finish because there will be yellows. The pitstops are very important, but I know the guys are well-prepared and they will go on practicing pitstops, so I don't think we have to hide."
Marc Basseng is a contract driver for Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, Germany. He test-drives almost every Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car before delivery to the customer. Although the requirements are different, he said the extra track time helps on race weekends.
"In test driving, you have to notice everything about the car. You have to say if it's comfortable, what's the temperature, how to use the switches, how's the brake. We develop cars for sprint races that are 25 minutes and for races that go 24 hours. That's a huge thing. I have a lot of seat time and a lot of kilometers in the race cars. It makes it easier to come to a new team, sit in the car and be quick after two or three laps. I have a good feeling if the car is 100 per cent good in the front or the rear, and I know what is possible."