THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 2009
FIRST POLE FOR HANKOOK IN LE MANS SERIES
few weeks ago the South Korean backed Hankook Ferrari
race team headed to Nurburgring for some extensive
tyre tests on their F430 GT2 Le Mans Series racer.
It proved to be a very positive exercise which showed
just how far the manufacturer has come since the last
race at Algarve. Each day the rubber was reducing
the deficit to Dunlop and Michelin - the benchmarks
of sportscar adhesion.
The fourth and penultimate round of the 2009 Series
was scheduled for the Grand Prix circuit in the Eiffel
Mountains, 150km south west of Frankfurt.
Without doubt, GT2 is the toughest fought category
within the Le Mans Series - getting on the podium
would be the goal.
As practice unfolded, both Allan Simonsen and his
German team mate Pierre Kaffer found themselves at
home with the setup which translated to 2nd fastest.
The remaining two practice sessions were dedicated
to alternate setups. It was now apparent that the
Hankook Farnbacher Ferrari could match the best of
But one key question loomed - will the car be consistent
on tyres or will the drop off be too high, taking
them out of contention?
Pierre Kaffer was on qualifying and start duties,
and didn't disappoint, scoring the team their first
pole for the team, against the factory Porsche and
Ferrari teams, who were also furnished with factory
Michelin and Dunlops respectively.
Whist Kaffer made a strong start he was soon under
attack from Gimmi Bruni in the factort Dunlop Ferrari,
who had obviously pulled out a special set of tyres
to be lapping a full second quicker almost immediately.
Team Modena and the #77 factory Porsche also applied
pressure sending Kaffer to 4th within the hour.
A nasty oversteer problem had now crept in to haunt
the drivers. This was traced to a broken front sway
bar and was responsible for Kaffer's immediate drop
down through the field.
At the end of the first stint, PK handed the car
to Allan in 5th. Unfortunately their pit box was already
in use by the second Farnbacher car of Pierre Ehret
and Dominik Farnbacher, delaying the Dane's change
over by 30 seconds.
Returning in 7th, Allan started his 70 minute fight
back session in full drift style, which is quite ironic,
since Hnakook are big in the drift market within Asia.
Back to 5th, it was time to pit again, but guess
what? The pit box was busy again by guess who - the
sister car. Add another 30 seconds!
Luckily that was the last of the delays and the Ferrari
made it through to a strong 4th with only 4 stops.
If the pit box had been clear, it was a certain podium,
but still points are points - 5 more in the bank for
So now its back to Australia for testing @ Queensland
Raceway with Team Vodafone alongside James Thompson
in preparation for the first of the two V8 Supercar
enduros at Phillip Island. It unfortunately clashes
with the final LMS at Silverstone so that's the season
for Allan with respect to European LMS events.
After Phillip Island, he's back to Brands Hatch to
help Hector Lestor win the British GT championship
before another long trip back down to Oz for the Bathurst
1000. And finally an Asia-Pacific Le Mans race in
Japan - now that should be a fun time and I'm tagging
along on that one.