FRIDAY 10 JULY 2009
HOT ROASTED PORTUGESE NIGHT RACE PAYS OFF
Everyone was looking forward to Portugal. The weather would be nice and a fantastic new circuit was being unveiled to the Le Mans Series fraternity.

But no one expected it to be quite as hot as it was. Especially Allan Simonsen and Pierre Kaffer, who had tested their Hankook Ferrari earlier in the season.
Still, Simonsen was in a good mood.

"I'm glad we came here to test. It's not an easy track to learn since it has many blind corners and the up and down make it a bit of a rollercoaster. Almost like a big Knockhill."

Hankook had been busy with their ongoing tyre development since the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Danish/German driver pairing had high hopes of a top result.

That was initially borne out in practice, being 2nd fastest, but with many teams not yet familar with the track, it was expected that a strong challenge would eventuate.

As qualifying approached, ambient temperatures skyrocketed and after discussions with Hankook engineers, a decision was make to use hard tyres.

It was a gamble that didn't pay dividends – Simonsen found the compound too hard and in the short time allocated for qualifying the tyres simply ween't hot enough to provide the required grip. He would only qualify 7th.


At 7pm, the third round of the 2009 Le Mans Series was underway and Simonsen capatilised on the start, passing three other GT2 before turn 1.

But out of the corner of his eye was the #88 Porsche, out of control and heading for disaster. Allan backed out of the overtaking move to see the Porsche clean up another competitor. And not just any competitor – it was his team mate in the works Porsche #77!

The hard compound tyres made the first stint tough going and it was a relief to move to mediums at the first pitstop.

Team mate Pierre Kaffer backed Allan up with excellent driving and whilst the Ferrari could not match the pace of the leading Dunlop and Michelin shod GT2s, they kept out of drama to finish 5th and bank 4 points.
Thanks must go to the entire Farnbacher Racing team and the boys from Hankook, who constantly strive to improve their product in what is without doubt the toughest testing environment in racing.

Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli have owned the sportscar landscape for many years and for a competitor to come along and bravely challenge them can only be a good thing for everyone.