Farnbacher Loles Racing earned its first American Le Mans Series pole position on Friday, with a record GT class qualifying lap on the newly configured and repaved Lime Rock Park road course in Lakeville, Conn. Dirk Werner of Kissenbrück, Germany, put the No. 87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the class pole with a lap of 54.154 seconds at an average speed of 99.716 mph on the 1.51-mile circuit.
"I'm very happy and proud that Farnbacher Loles and I could get the first pole in the American Le Mans Series in only our fifth race," Werner said. "The car obviously was great and I think we did the best job in adapting to the new track, because it changed a lot over the practice sessions. I put out a pretty good lap – it was really on the edge – and I hope now we can get a good result in the race. After a long period of not-so-good results, the team really deserves to be on the podium."
Porsche factory driver Richard Westbrook of London, England, will share driving duty with Werner in Saturday's two-hour 45-minute race. Although Westbrook has raced with Farnbacher Racing in Europe this season, the Lime Rock race will be his first with U.S.-based Farnbacher Loles Racing.
"I'd like to get used to this! It's just been a great start. I'm really surprised about the gap we've had from the moment we first got in the car through both practice sessions. And it was clear in the qualifying, we have an advantage," Westbrook said. "You're not going to get a perfect car, you've just got to make the best of what you've got, and we've certainly done that today. We've just got to carry that over to the race now."
Both drivers expect a tough race on Saturday. They say the track changes challenge the GT cars that share the short, narrow track with the faster, more powerful prototype cars.
"The surface is very smooth and very slippery, and the characteristics changed a lot because it's not bumpy any more," Werner explained. "They changed two turns, so it's very slow in these changed turns now. There will be good overtaking opportunities for the prototypes, but it's also very narrow in these parts, so it will be hard to stay out of trouble."
Westbrook agreed: "This track and the new surface, it's going to be a battle. We've got to make sure, lap after lap, we're quick in the race. We have a great strategy, but there are going to be a lot of yellow flags; it's going to be a lottery. We need to make sure we're in the mix all the way through the race."
Team owner Gregory Loles noted, "We are very satisfied by today's results. Our program is now showing its potential in ALMS. We want to thank Mr. Hartmut Kristen and Mr. Paul Ritchie and all the people at Porsche Motorsport for believing in our program and entrusting us the resources to succeed. I also want to acknowledge all the hard work of our technical team headed by my partner, Horst Farnbacher, data engineer Ewald Mayer and crew chief Kurt Keitel.
"Tomorrow will be very challenging, given the curing process the track is undergoing. With some luck, we should have a good result."
The No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche is powered by a new 4.0-liter engine that generates the same horsepower as the previous 3.8-liter version. The engine, still in its testing phase, is designed to improve drivability by widening the power band.