Mid-Ohio ALMS Weekend
Competition in the American Le Mans Series is always wide-open. Now, even at the season midpoint, everything in the GT2 class is still wide-open. Who can win on any given track? Which will be most dominant, Ferrari or Porsche? Who will prevail at the end of the season? None of these things has a forgone conclusion.
While Saturday's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge officially marks the second-half of the season, Tafel Racing attacks each weekend with the same intense focus on victory that it opened the year with in March. With two victories already this season, the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC driven by Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) and Dirk Müller (a native of Germany living in Monaco) is looking to add to its podium string in the two hour and 45-minute feature on July 19.
With two races now under their belts as teammate, Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Alex Figge (Denver) are looking to the familiar confines of the Ohio track to take the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC onto its first podium of the season. Lexington's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course provides an ideal setting for a wide-open assault for both cars.
After last weekend's grueling battle of survival on the narrow confines of Lime Rock (Conn.) Park, Tafel Racing is looking forward to the wide-open spaces of the American Midwest. At 2.25-miles long, the 13-turn Mid-Ohio facility is three-quarters of a mile longer than the tight Lime Rock course.
The difference in length, run-off room and wider track surface is like walking from a cave to a pasture for drivers trying to race in 400+ horsepower machines in four distinctly different classes. Unlike last weekend's fifth round of the 11 race season, Mid-Ohio gives drivers room to challenge for position while making way for the quicker Le Mans Prototypes (LMP) within the multi- class race. Last weekend's race left few teams in the Series without some level of repair to be made before heading to Mid-Ohio. For Tafel Racing, Technical Director Tony Dowe (Cumming, Ga.) decided that the damage to the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Ferrari was too great and the work to critical to be done 'in the field'.
The team opted to return to its Cumming, Ga. headquarters to mend the bodywork just behind the driver-side door. The body of the beautiful No. 73 Ferrari had already been spoiled with a hard impact into the tire barrier during Lime Rock's second practice session. The David Fullerton-led No. 73 crew worked diligently and returned the ride to Figge and Tafel by race morning warm-up. Although suffering additional battle scars during the event, the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari requires only cosmetic repairs prior to traveling to Ohio.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge marks NBC Sports' first American Le Mans Series broadcast of the season. A tape-delayed airing of the event can be seen on your local NBC affiliate on Sunday, July 20 from Noon until 2:30 pm (ET). Live timing and scoring of each on-track session and the American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcast can be found at AmericanLeMans.com.
QuotesTony Dowe, Technical Director: About the challenges of back-to-back weekends: "We have a plan for the year and I think it's good enough to allow some flexibility when things don't go quite the right way and solid enough to allow us to press very hard when things do go our way. Repairing the damage that even a car that finishes the race has is a major challenge with back- to-back weekends. Our number 71 car has had to be brought back to Cumming and is undergoing a big repair in order for it to be ready to race again correctly."About Mid-Ohio:
"This race is at one of the best circuits for overtaking. Our testing highlighted that this circuit has many faces, from being very greasy and lacking in grip, to being very good in grip levels. It's always changing and is particularly affected by the sun and heat."
Dominik Farnbacher, Driver, No. 71: About this weekend: "I am very motivated for Mid- Ohio. Lime Rock showed us again we can win the race but we had bad luck there. Our car proved outstandingly strong in the race. So we will try to get it to work as well at Mid-Ohio."
About the Mid-Ohio circuit: "I only drove last year at Mid-Ohio but I was very comfortable with the track. My favorite part is the 180 [degree turn] before you go on the long backstraight. It is a very challenging corner; quicker than you expect."About the GT2 competition this season: "It is very good competition this year. ALMS and GT2 gets stronger and stronger every year. I think The GT2 class is the one with the most competition. I want to win the championship with Dirk. It doesn't matter how and who is driving against us. "
Dirk Müller, Driver, No. 71:About the Mid-Ohio circuit: "Mid-Ohio is a great place. Everything needs to be perfect to get a good lap time there. You as a driver in combination with the setup of the car have to be right. I have no favorite part of the track because the whole track, as a combination, is the highlight for me. I very much like the track and I am looking forward to the weekend."
About the GT2 competition this season: "This kind of competition is what I had five years in a row in the touring WM championship. Obviously, I like that very much and I am proud about our competiveness at Tafel Racing."