Farnbacher Loles Racing showed its championship form during the first half of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday. The rookie American Le Mans Series team led the GT2 class and was running second when a rival Ferrari took the team’s No. 87 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR out of the race.
Dirk Werner of Kissenbrück, Germany, drove the first double stint, charging from sixth to the GT2 lead in the first 97 minutes of the race. Marc Basseng of Leutenbach, Germany, drove next, regaining the class lead just past the two-hour mark. Bryce Miller of Hoboken, N.J., held a top-three position throughout his stint, despite a malfunctioning cool suit. Werner took the wheel again and was running second when the class-leading No. 62 Risi Ferrari hit the Farnbacher Loles Porsche at 5h32, causing extensive damage to the right suspension and radiators. The car was unable to continue and the team retired from the race.
Dirk Werner: “I’m so sad right now. I drove to turn 7 and the Ferrari was really close because the track had just gone green. We couldn’t drive really fast, we were just cruising around and waiting until the track was clear. Then the car crashed into me and broke something on the suspension so I couldn’t steer any more. I tried to go back to the pits, but I couldn’t steer the car and I was afraid I would cross the track at a certain point. Then the engine temperature went high, so I had no chance to get back to the pits. That’s really the worst thing that could happen. We were running so great. It’s pretty sad for everybody who is involved. All the work they’ve done to prepare the car is destroyed now.”
Marc Basseng: “It was definitely bad luck for us. It looks like [Ferrari driver Jaime] Melo was too late on brakes. Normally in a 12-hour race, you don’t need to overtake somebody this way. What can I say? Wrong place at the wrong time. It’s bad for our team, but we’ll prepare the car now and be fit for [the next race in] St. Petersburg.”
Bryce Miller: “I’m really excited to be with Farnbacher Loles. I think we were able to show today that we could set the pace among the Porsche teams. We were running second at the time and our lap times were very competitive. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that we were taken out of the race the way that we were. It’s a little bit hard to digest how it happened. The incident was not over position; the Risi Ferrari happened to be an entire lap up on us. Sometimes you just search for answers and you can’t really find one. The only thing we can do is focus on the positive that came from this – that we can run with the best of the Porsches and compete at the highest level of the GT2 category.
Dino Loles, team owner: “We’re obviously very, very proud of the way our car ran. At the time we were doing as well as possible, leading Porsche’s charge against Ferrari. We had very strong stints from Marc and Bryce and then had our hotshoe, Dirk, in the car, looking to reel back that Ferrari. It’s unfortunate, but we’re very proud of what we accomplished this weekend. We proved we can compete at the highest level of GT racing, and we look forward to the opportunity to compete for the rest of the season.”
The No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche carried a special message during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, in memory of Thomas Hanes, father of crew member John Hanes.
“Everyone at Farnbacher Loles has a heavy heart this week because one of our own suffered the unexpected loss of his dear father while in Sebring for this event. Our thoughts are with him and his family today,” principal team owner Gregory Loles said.