The American Le Mans Series schedule is filled with classic, North American road courses. For the drivers, venerable venues such as Sebring, Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta and last weekend's Road America require a draw from a deep well of speed, precision and courage. Mosport International Raceway demands an even longer drill. The first purpose-built Canadian race course has changed little since it was carved into the hills of Bowmanville, Ontario in the late 1950s and it remains to many drivers a perfect mix of dream and nightmare. Therein lies the magic of Mosport. The track is a favorite among the drivers because it is a challenge. It demands respect and rewards speed and exact driving. Tafel Racing joins the American Le Mans Series north of the border for the Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday, August 24. Drivers of the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC, Dominik Farnbacher (Ansbach, Germany) and Dirk Müller (a native of Germany now living in Monaco), enter the two hour and 45-minute event with three victories and one class pole position in 2008. Alex Figge (Denver) and Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) will be making their fourth start of the season together in the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC at Mosport.
Unlike some of the 11 stops on the American Le Mans Series calendar, the prestige of winning Mosport is less about its surroundings and more to do with the course. The 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit is wickedly quick and brutally taxing on man and machine. To find success on the track, drivers must dig deep within themselves and trust their engineers and mechanics like never before. The opening right hander at the end of the front stretch sets up the entire circuit. Fast and falling-away, down and to the right, Turn One begins a rollercoaster ride of short straights and quick, sweeping corners before it leads to the deceiving fourth turn, a left-hand flick not unlike "the Kink" at Road America where Tafel Racing finished third on August 9. Turn Five, the Stirling Moss Hairpin, is a complex of turns broken up as 5A-5C and is the slowest section of the track before it spits the cars onto the long, slightly bending back-straightaway. Turns Eight and Nine are a series of 'esses' that bring the cars to the final turn, 10, where the tight right- hander launches the cars onto the uphill front-straight.
The quick corners and long-straights give multiple passing opportunities within class and almost limitless choices for the faster prototypes (LMP1 and LMP2 classes) to overtake the GT2 class entries. While every venue keeps the road car-based GT2 efforts looking not only ahead but in their mirrors, Mosport raises the multi-tasking capabilities of the drivers to an all-time high. The 2007 pole position was set by a Ferrari at one minute, 17.841 seconds equating to 113.724 miles per hour (mph). When compared to other venues on the schedule, only Road America has a faster average speed (115.581 mph set by Müller in qualifying earlier this month) and the Wisconsin track is one and a half miles longer in length than Mosport.
The Grand Prix of Mosport can be seen live on SPEED starting at 3 PM (ET), August 24. XM Satellite Radio Channel 166 will broadcast the full American Le Mans Series Radio web broadcast live also going on air at 3 PM (ET). For the first time in Series history, qualifying can be seen live via streaming video available at both AmericanLeMans.com and SPEEDTV.com beginning at 1:30 PM (ET), August 23. Live timing and scoring of each on-track session and the live American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcast can be found at AmericanLeMans.com.
QuotesTony Dowe, Technical Director: "It was here last year that we turned a corner as a team when we finally got the direction we needed with the Porsche. This year we have had good direction and now we are pushing very hard to get our performance ready for a back-to-back set of races that are very different in the type of circuits and the challenges they present. We are going to be testing ahead of the Mosport race with some new developments that I feel the car has needed in order to give us some adjustability in our setup; to remove some of the 'knife edge' conditions that the car has had as we have got nearer to the 'perfect' setup. Let's hope that the ALMS gets over their timing problems as it was amazing how much the lack of information upset the early part of the race at Road America. Unfortunately, Mosport is quite primitive in some of the facilities available, I'm thinking of the media in particular, so I hope the team's fans get to read about what's going on when it happens and not sometime after the event."
Dominik Farnbacher, Driver, No. 71: About his favorite turns at Mosport: "Turns One, Two and Four are blind, very fast downhill turns; very challenging and dangerous. One mistake and you are in the wall. This is like 'The Kink' in Road America but you have 'The Kink' three times in one lap at Mosport. It's very cool when you drive trough these turns. Here you really can feel how much downforce a GT 'streetcar' has. That is really amazing."About preparation for Mosport: "To prepare myself I went back home to Germany to train mentally and physically in daily sports. That helps to stay focused and fit during this important and dangerous race. Dirk is also a very well trained driver. That is a key for success."About the car for Mosport: "The car was just perfect in Road America. Tony [Dowe, Technical Director] gave Dirk and me a perfectly balanced car. That helped at the fast race track in Road America, and I am a 100 percent sure he will do the same for Mosport. That will make us quick in the fast downhill turns."
About the competition in GT2: "It pushes me even more. I am thinking about the championship and racing every single second. I am more focused than ever. I train hard everyday to give the best of what I can do to Dirk, Tony and Tafel Racing. I am very happy to have such an experienced team behind me."
Dirk Müller, Driver, No. 71:About Mosport: "I am really looking forward to get back to Mosport. My memories are really good on this track. It has always been a lot of fun and I have had a lot of success here. There is definitely time to attack, but you need to be very cautious not to risk too much. The runoffs are hungry and not very comfortable. I know from last year that the track suits the Ferrari. Dom was quick there as well. So with the Ferrari, Tafel Racing, the Michelin tires and the drivers, we are looking forward to a great race!"
About the most challenging aspect of Mosport: "Being in GT2 at Mosport nearly every corner is quite challenging. The easiest is the hairpin, but it is also one of the most important ones."
About the competition in GT2: "I am very happy about the competition in our class. This pushes everybody on the team to give their best to receive always the maximum. We don't need to win every week, but we like to be ahead at the end of the year. It is so tight right now in points that I believe it will come down to the last race in the last lap!"
Jim Tafel, Driver, No. 73: "Mosport is known as one of the fastest and most challenging courses in the world. It forces you to feel when and where to brake versus having visual cones and markers like most of the other tracks we run. It is similar to Road America in that you roll through the corners at a higher rate of speed than what you would think they would be. Turn Four, the blind, left-hander, is really challenging. It takes laps and laps to be able to build the confidence to achieve optimum speed and line to get through Turn Four at a competitive pace."