After a very busy month of racing the German VLN Series, British GT and 24 Hours of Le Mans test day duties, Allan Simonsen along with German team mate Dominik Farnbacher, have moved up another step on the Le Mans Series podium, capturing a well earned second place at last weekends Spa 1000 race. And with the Hankook rubber performing so well it can only be a matter of time before the Korean manufacturer takes its first outright win, trouncing Michelin and Dunlop!

The Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari 458 Italia GTE performed the task perfectly, as did the drivers, with only pitstop errors getting in the way of outright GTE Pro victory.

The last week had been rather busy for the team, having to not only re-adjust the car from use at the Nordschliffe, but repair some damage that occured when one-time recuit Jaime Melo was at the wheel.

Arriving at the circuit, the skies were clear and blue – often not the case at the picturesque circuit located in the Ardennes.

The geography of the region dictates highly
changeable weather, creating wet and dry sections of track. This makes it uneasy for a driver, the level of grip changing often without warning.

After the start line debacle at Le Castellet, last month, the organisers called a special meeting to explain what went wrong. Whilst the admisssion of a total communications screwup was welcomed by all, there were many still highly miffed at having to spend hundred of thousands of Euros to return their race cars to former glory.

Going one step further, it was announced that as a result of that mess, teams could now drop their worst round score, effectively allowing a DNF excuse for everyone. Now, the Series would be decided over four point tallys, rather than five.

Significantly more cars were present for the Spa event, since it was the European round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge. Audi revealed its new closed cockpit R18 to the world and Peugeot rolled out their updated 908 diesel racer. It was certainly a battle of maufacturers once again.

If you thought the P1 class was busy, it was nothing compared to GTE, by far the most diverse, hotly contested category in the world, with no less than six factory based manufacturers involved – Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lotus and Porsche.

Anyone who can get on the podium in this category have thoroughly deserved the position for their effort, especially at Spa where the ILMC cars signifcantly added to the track density.

Practice saw a great deal of mishap, especially for the prototypes and contoversially slow Formula Le Mans cars, two drivers taken to hospital for inspection after very nasty accidents.

Despite thaking second place in GTE-Pro, Hankook Team Farnbacher did not have the most ideal weekend. Fining a good setup in practice was difficult, thanks again in no small part to the size of the field, which started with more than 60 cars (only 53 would compete, 41 being classified as finishers).

It was Dominik's turn to qualify, the pairing having alternate event duties.

As qualifying started, the 458 seup was much better than it had been.

This translated to sixth place.

This position forced a rethink in terms of fuel startegy, one that would be desicive come race day – the engineers felt they had a winning combination on their hands by doing only four stops.

It would pay off, with Dominik finishing 11 seconds behind the winning Ferrari 458 of Gimi Bruni and ex-F1 star Giancarlo Fisichella, who used a similar lean fuel map.

And only just, with the Korean rubber shod 458 spluttering across the finish line.

Allan Simonsen dryly quipped: "It was a good race, but we now have plenty of second and third places. By now, we should start winning races, too!"

Dominik Farnbacher added, "We had a relatively trouble-free race. The car was good, the Hankook tyres also lived up to our expectations. Throughout a stint, they were again not only quick, but also consistent. However, we still have to work on the pit stops, because we have lost a lot of time there today", said after the race.

Both team and drivers now lie second in the 2011 championship. In the meantime the two big 24 hour races of the year loom – Le Mans and Nürburgring, followed a week later by the 3rd round of the Le Mans Series. That's guaranteed to keep the drivers, engineers, mechanics and tyre technicians busy.

And of course the most important part of any team – the chefs!