Farnbacher Loles Racing will compete in sports-car races in two countries this weekend, drawing on the full talent and resources of the multi-faceted international team. Transporters are en route from the team's race shop in Braselton, Ga., to Long Beach, Calif., for an American Le Mans Series race and to Mexico City for a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race. Both races are scheduled for Saturday, April 19.
Owner Gregory Loles credited his team for making it happen:
"Obviously, this is a very complex weekend for us, but we're lucky to have a very deep bench, in engineering, mechanical and driver talent. I'm very grateful that all of our drivers and crew are focused on what is best for us, putting the team ahead of everything. As a result, we are able to send the cream of the crop to both races. I'm very proud that our organization is able to run two series at the highest level in two different countries. That's a testament to the depth that we've created at Farnbacher Loles."
Farnbacher Loles Racing will combine forces from three continents for the American Le Mans Series race in Long Beach, Calif., on April 19. The U.S. team will field the No. 87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for Marc Basseng of Leutenbach, Germany, and Australian Alex Davison, now living in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
Basseng is competing in two series this year – the American Le Mans Series in the United States and the Langstrecken Meisterschaft Nürburgring (VLN) in Germany – plus several endurance races in Europe and North America. He anticipates commuting between continents 15 times, covering about 95,000 miles.
This week's race will be his first on the 1.968-mile Long Beach temporary street circuit. He will prepare for the race by watching other drivers' in-car race videos, a technique that helped him quickly learn the track for the previous series race, in St. Petersburg, Fla. And he'll arrive early to adapt to the warm climate and thwart the effects of jet lag.
"The race is in LA, so it is a 14-hour flight from Germany! But I get used to it and it's no problem. Back to Germany is a bit more complicated, but you get used to it if you do it eight or nine times," he said. "I'll arrive two days early to get a little bit used to the temperatures. I think the weather will be nice, so it will be one more holiday weekend on the race track."
Alex Davison has extensive experience driving Porsches. He won the 2004 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship with 16 wins and 23 podium finishes in 26 races, and finished second in 2006 and 2007, adding 16 more wins and 37 more podiums. He has also collected wins in the Porsche Michelin Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.
Davison opened the 2008 season with second-place GT2 finishes in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (ALMS) and the 1000 Km de Catalunya (Le Mans Series), both in Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs.
The Farnbacher Loles Racing drivers are fit and ready for the high-altitude Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race in Mexico City on April 19. The 2.5-mile road course is 7350 feet (1.4 miles) above sea level, leaving both drivers and cars short of oxygen.
Dirk Werner of Kissenbrück, Germany, had a strong race in Mexico last year, en route to the Rolex Series GT championship. He drove from last to second in class during his stint, in only his second series race. He will share driving duty in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car this weekend with Pierre Kaffer of Salenstein, Switzerland.
"Mexico City was my first Grand-Am race besides the 24 hours of Daytona, so it was quite exciting. We started at the very end of the field and I was the starting driver. I worked through the field and I was second when I gave the car to my teammate," Werner recalled. "The track is fun to drive. It has a long straight, so you can get a good slipstream and overtake at the end of the straight. There is a long combination where you really have to have a good setup for the car and a good line. It's kind of a driver track."
"I want to say how proud I am of being again part of the Farnbacher Loles team after the Daytona race," Kaffer said. "It is a pleasure to help Dirk and the team to try to score important points for the championship. Unfortunately, I don't have much experience on this track yet, but one of my strengths is that I am able to learn tracks pretty fast. I am really looking forward to this race and, of course, I will do all my best to win and gather points."
Leh Keen of Charleston, S.C., and Eric Lux of Jacksonville, Fla., will drive the team's No. 86 Porsche in Mexico City. Keen has two second-place GT finishes on the Autodromo track.
"Mexico is one of my fave events of the season. The whole atmosphere is different from any other circuits. The people are real diehard fans – huge autosport fans, very nice and just happy to be at the race track," Keen said. "The fave part of the course to me is the esses that start real slow, then end up high speed, top of fourth gear and into fifth. It's very fun to work each corner a little faster and then shoot out of them at the end.
"Our Farnbacher cars will be very good at the track. It's high-speed and a nice surface – a little bumpy at times – with a long, long front straight. The altitude is very high, so the car's power is down, so momentum is a little more key than at other events."
Eric Lux recently logged some high-altitude training for the Mexico race. He spent nine days snowboarding, mountain biking, running and hiking at 13,000 feet in Colorado. "I do that purposely before Mexico, so when I get there, it's just another day," he explained.
He noted the importance of car setup for the Mexico race: "It's an old Formula One track, so it has a lot of technical corners, a lot of fast corners, a lot of slow corners. It requires quite a bit of discipline not to try to go too fast in the slow corners. It really defines the teams by who can set up the car the best. With this track, this many corners and how challenging it is, it should be a good track for us and for Porsches in general. Hopefully, Porsche will be able to give Pontiac and Mazda a good run in Mexico."