Photo by John Thawley Lakeville, Conn. --Tafel Racing finished sixth and tenth in GT2 today at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Contact ruled the day for the team from Georgia.
What began as weather abbreviated weekend on Friday with rain eliminating qualifying, the clouds stayed over the Tafel Racing team. At the drop of the green flag a fellow GT2 competitor checked-up in front of Robin Liddell in the No. 71 Tafel Porsche, causing him to jump out of line and was called in for a stop-and-go-penalty. Upon his return to the fray, three laps later, Liddell was giving room to a P2 car and was punted off the circuit in turn three, causing substantial damage to the RSR. The team affected repairs enabling Liddell and teammate Wolf Henzler to finish the race garnering valuable points.
The No. 73 Tafel Porsche had an equally tough day. Early contact with a GT2 competitor put team owner and driver Jim Tafel into the spin cycle. Later, after turning the wheel over to co-driver Dominik Farnbacher, he was hit again by the same deranged driver, this time putting him into the wall in turn seven. The result was quite a bit of body damage and causing a full course caution. Farnbacher was able to continue, bringing the damaged RSR home in sixth place.
Robin Liddell was at the wheel of the No. 71 for the opening stint. His early penalty was a sign of things to come for the Scot.
"I am not sure what he was thinking," Liddell said. "I gave him all of the room that I could, I even went onto the grass to get out the way and he found me and punted me into the wall. I really had no where to go. It was a shame we had a pretty good car. The guys did a good job to get us back out so we finished. At the start a GT2 car in front me hit his brakes, I jumped out of line to avoid him and I was called in, just a tough day."
Teammate Wolf Henzler drove the last hour to be classified for maximum points on what was a very difficult outing.
"The car was really tough to drive," Henzler said. "The crew did great work to get it fixed, but it felt like it didn't have damping in the shocks and the steering was crooked. Finishing was really all that we could have hoped for today and we owe that to the guys, because every point counts."
In the No. 73 Tafel Porsche Dominik Farnbacher was running lap times as fast as the leaders in GT2 until he was punted by a GT2 car that was several laps down.
"He was a few laps down and was driving like a crazy man," Farnbacher said. "He really had nothing to gain by being that aggressive that late in the race. I had a good car, I was able to turn really fast laps, as fast as those leading the race. The car had a little understeer, but that was ok. After what happened with the 71 guys, we really didn't need what we got at the end of the race."
Jim Tafel was affected by the same arrant GT2 driver that punted Farnbacher.
"The same guy that punted Dominik spun me early in the race," Tafel said. "I am not sure what goes through some of these guys minds. He was on a rampage today and hit several cars. I had a pretty good opening stint, it is pretty crazy out there with the traffic and the prototypes coming up on you. Dominik was running fast laps at the end until he was put off. We have a lot of damage from the weekend to repair before Mid-Ohio."
"A tough day all around for us," Tony Dowe, team technical director said. "We got the early penalty on Robin and then the heavy contact sent the 71 back to the paddock for repairs. The guys did a great job getting it back together, but we were several laps down. Jim and Dominik got hit by the same car, the second time putting us into the wall and we had to be towed out of the tires. Not our best day, but we will regroup and be ready to go in two-weeks at Mid-Ohio."
Round seven of the American Le Mans Series will be run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 21.