ALMS Winter Test: Wednesday notebook
Dominik Farnbacher has gone from one extreme to the others in terms of GT2 cars in the American Le Mans Series. He drove rear-engined Porsches in 2006 and 2007, moved to a mid-engined Ferrari last season and now is in a front-engined Panoz Esperante GTLM for 2008.
Farnbacher has tested this week for Panoz Team PTG during the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. He confirmed that it looks likely that he will contest the full season for Tom Milner’s team.
“The first session was very different,” said Farnbacher, who won in class four times last year with Tafel Racing. “There were some adjustments moving from the Porsche to the Ferrari at the beginning of last year, and this is another one. But things are going really well. The car is pretty soft on the suspension side as it is an older car but that is not a bad thing. We were quickest in one of the sessions Tuesday and the last one Wednesday, and that made everyone happy.
“It looks like I will be here for the full season,” he added. “This is the Series I want to be in. I want it to be my focal point. It is the place to be.”
SAME AND NEW AT FARNBACHER LOLES: After a strong first full season in GT2, Farnbacher Loles Racing looked formidable again at Sebring with the fastest time in two of Wednesday’s three sessions.
Dirk Werner, new full-season teammate and Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler, and Richard Lietz, another factory pilot, split time in the team’s new 2009-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Lietz was quickest Wednesday morning with Henzler fastest in the day’s second session.
“Everything around the car is pretty much the same,” Werner said. “But we have gotten better with the addition of Wolf and additional support from Porsche.”
Both Henzler and Werner raced for Farnbacher Racing in Porsche Supercup during the 2004 season. Henzler also has raced for Farnbacher Loles in a number of other championships, so he is not exactly new to the team.
“They have grown every year since 2005,” said Henzler, who shared the GT2 championship and four class wins with Jörg Bergmeister in 2008. “It took them one year to become competitive in GT2 and win a race. Their performance improved from race to race. Now it’s another step up as they have been a development team for Porsche.”
A HAND FOR BMW: Joey Hand is back at Sebring for the first time in a BMW since 2006. He is part of the full-season lineup for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team and its two new BMW M3 racers for GT2.
“It’s been OK. We have been down a little on pace,” said Hand, who will drive with Bill Auberlen during the season. “It’s hard for us to make good power on the straights because the front of the car is so wide. Through the corners we’re still not up to our BMW standards. But it’s still early and things will continue to improve.”
PRIMETIME PROGRESS: Primetime Race Group finished fifth in GT2 at Sebring last year with its Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. The team’s second day of testing at Sebring on Wednesday left Chris Hall pleased and quietly confident for a similar result this year.
“We’ve already gone faster than we ever did here last year,” said Hall, who will drive with team owner Joel Feinberg. “The team has done a lot of work. The engine’s performance has improved, we have lowered the car, lowered the engine - really lowered the entire center of gravity. That has made a huge difference. Last season the car really was tough to handle through the corners. Now it’s much, much easier and that’s a credit to the effort the team has put in.”
Feinberg also tested his IMSA Lites DP02 earlier this week at Sebring as well."