Over the course of the next month, Tafel Racing will offer a glimpse at the past American Le Mans Series season and a look into 2009. Today’s view comes from Tony Dowe, VP and Technical Director.
Tony Dowe has long been considered one of sports car racing’s most brilliant minds. It showed again in 2008 as Tafel Racing scored four GT2 victories and a runner-up championship finish in the American Le Mans Series’ deepest class. Dowe, who serves as both VP and Technical Director for Tafel, offered his view of 2008 as well as glimpse ahead to 2009.
Question: Looking back on the 2008 season, what is the first memory that jumps out at you? Answer: Winning at the second race (St. Petersburg, Fla., the team’s first American Le Mans Series victory) and winning the last race (Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the team’s fourth Series triumph). It means that we stayed the course. We never gave up.
Q: You have said that you enjoyed racing this season more than you have enjoyed racing at anytime in your career. Why is that? A: Good people.
Q: Tafel Racing has quickly progressed through the ranks of the American Le Mans Series GT2 class from third in the championship in 2007, to a close second in 2008. During the offseason, how do you prepare to win the championship in 2009? A: We look at what was good and what was not good. We try and think about what will change with rules and the people we will race against and what, if anything, we can do to be ahead of those situations.
Tafel Racing Ferrari
Q: What do you recall as your biggest surprise within the team in 2008? A: Just how determined the guys were to win the championship. When Mike Dixon (No. 71 fueler and truck driver) said to me before Petit ‘I want this because I've never won a championship,’ it showed how strong the feeling was inside the team.
Q: While every win is special and important, what victory or podium was the most meaningful to you this season? A: Long Beach. That strategy (no Michelin tire change) was planned from a long way back but it still relied on an instant decision when a particular situation came together. Mid-Ohio was a close second because of a similar thing.
The next installment of “Reflections of Tafel Racing” will be a Q&A with sophomore driver Dominik Farnbacher who finished second in the driver championship sharing the No. 71 Tafel/Bell Micro Racing Ferrari F430 GTC with Dirk Müller. Farnbacher won his first American Le Mans Series GT2 race in 2008 and went on to score three more class wins during the remainder of the season. He has signed to return to Tafel Racing for his third consecutive season in 2009.
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