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Le Mans Series - Nurburgring

THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 2009
FIRST POLE FOR HANKOOK IN LE MANS SERIES

A 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 the GT2's.

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 our heroes.

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.

 

 

 

 

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Team Brask Management c/o Corren Troen, 4 Buckingham Place, London SW1E 6HR
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