MONDAY 18 JULY 2010
OUR DANISH HERO ENJOYS A PORTUGESE SAUNA

After the brilliant results at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Nürburgring, Allan Simonsen and Team Farnbacher Hankook, headed to the 6km long Slovakiaring circuit in the Republic of Slovenská.

Rising star tyre manufacturers, Hankook, had booked the circuit for Allan and team mate Dominik Farnbacher to evaluate wide range of new tyre construction and compounds on their Ferrari 430.

Team Farnbacher Hankook knew that it would be hot at the Portimao circuit, despite it being a twilight race.

With the European summer in full swing, everyone gravitates to the Mediteranean basin, for sun and sea. In the case of our Danish hero, it was for the 3rd round of the 2010 Le Mans Series.

A testing ban at the Algarve venue had sent the team to Slovakiaring – not ideal but there was little point in arguing the rules. Knowing what lay further ahead, it would be a very positive step for the penultimate LMS round, in late August, to be held as the sun went down, at the F1 Hungaroring circuit, in Hungary.

2009 had seen ambient temperatures hover around the 35 degree mark, whilst the track was ten degrees hotter – that was always going to be tough to create a linear stint strategy. They'd struggled to hang on to 5th, but it did add points to Hankook's debut LMS campaign.

Now, a bank of LM24 tyres in stock, and the team feeling very happy with the baseline, it was decided to use them as an initial tyre choice. Everyone was feeling very confident indeed and rightly so. Coming off a run of great results can produce further stunners such is the intangible element of success. It's difficult to measure just how positive the mental effect is for a driver and the team.

Three practice sessions were available in Portugal – 2 x 60 min in daylight and a 90 minute evening session. With a scheduled race start time of 5pm, it was clear the race would end in darkness.

It turned out to be a frustrating start with the entire P1 scrapped after a faulty master cylinder appeared as trhe mechanics were warming up the car prior.

P2 was no better, in fact just awful. Intermittent power steering, an overly stiff setup which didn't make the brake package effective and the very hot track temperature played havoc with the tyres.

As the night session came into play, the car started to behave better but it was obvious that they'd be struggling for pace. That mean the same strategy used at the last two races would be used - keep it clean and try and capitalise on others misfortune.


Team tested more than 10 tyre variants

Struggling for pace in the extreme heat

Allan turned in the fastest lap the Hankook Ferrari had ever managed at Algarve and whilst he was happy with that, it only represented 10th in GT2. This gives you an idea of just how extreme and fast development cycles are from one year to the next. GT2 is the toughest sportcar car class in the world, bar none. And its getting the best drivers as well.

As a bit of fun, an 'old school' Le Mans start was used, with drivers running to their cars, where the mechanics would secure them before heading off for the two formation laps.

It was 35C in the cockpit but Allan pressed on to get down to 8th place at the 70 minute mark, having disposed of a couple of GT1 and GT2 cars. Dominik swapped in whilst Allan rehyrated after his sauna session.

Three stints each without drama, resulted in 7th, after a spirited attack by Jaroen Bleekmolen in the GT2 Spyker, whcih came out in favour of Allan. Ironically most other teams also experinced trouble free runs.

Still it was some points in the bank - next round Hungaroring Aug 20-22.

The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a 4.692 km (2.915 mi) race circuit located in Portimão, Portugal.