TUESDAY 19 AUGUST 2008

ANOTHER MECHANICAL FAILURE DESTROYS NÜRBURGRING OPPORTUNITY


Five time Le Mans 24 Hour stalwart Lars Erik Nielsen returned from Germany's Nürburgring circuit yesterday with zero points from the penultimate round of the 2008 Le Mans Series.

Nielsen's Farnbacher Racing run Porsche 997 GT3 RSR suffered clutch pressure plate failure in the 4th hour, with Allan Simonsen at the wheel, whilst holding down 4th place. It was the third DNF in four LMS races this season – the only highlight being the GT2 class win at Monza.

In a complete reverse twist of fate, GT2 class leaders Rob Bell/Gianmaria Bruni saw their Ferrari 430 GT2 partially destroyed by fire early in the practice session. They would however, recover and take the GT2 spoils.

Regular co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Allan Simonsen had impressed in early practice in the 2008.5 spec 997. The new four litre engine has been fitted and the trio posted the second fastest GT2 time, leading the Porsche way, behind Bell/Bruni in the Virgo 430.

By Friday afternoon, the were 5th fastest, with the sister Farnbacher Ferrari that Nielsen has used to take 3rd place at this years Le Mans 24 Hour, was leading.

Naturally the new engine had a different driving characteristic.

"It's very strong indeed. Porsche have done a fantastic job revising the 3.8 litre engine. It's very tractable, said Nielsen.

"You shift a bit earlier than before and thats to be expected. I think it will be very quick on the more stop start circuits like Valencia.

"Hopefully next year there will be a few more races. Five isn't enough for a series of this depth. We may go to Brno and Porto and that's where the new engine will shine"


New 4 litre engine has great Porsche pace


Clutch pressure plate failure ended the day early

Up the front in LMP1, there was little surprise that the works Peugeot 908's would demand the grid front row. They've won every LMS race during 2007 and 2008. Only the Le Mans 24 Hour uncovers their weakness.

What was interesting was to see the privateer petrol-powered Lola Aston Martin split the 908's from the Audi R10s to take 3rd spot.

Back in GT2, Ehret, Kaffer and Beltoise put the Farnbacher Ferrari on pole. Nielsen, who would start the race, qualified 4th.

Sunday morning warm up – Nielsen was in trouble after last minute LMS addition Liz Halliday (Creation LMP1), carved the Porsche up in one of the brake zones, sending him into the gravel trap.

Lars wasn't amused, "It wasn't pretty. I wasn't impressed at all with her for that. She just cut me right off at the brake point. She's just learning that P1 car and needs to get a bit of respect for other classes that don't have huge carbon brake setups"

Things just didn't seem to get much better at the weekend unfolded.

With the race only 2 laps young, Nielsen's Porsche was tapped into spin, by a Ferrari, leaving the Danish sportscar star to drive back through the field from last place.

He'd eventually hand over to Westbrook during the second hour, who continued the drive forward. Westbrook was now setting some stunning race times and it wasn't long before he's consolidated the car into 4th place.

Westbrook out. Simonsen in.

Four laps later, the drivetrain failed, stranding the younger Dane out on the circuit, with no possibility of mechanical help. DNF. A totally disappointing result.

But there's no time to dwell on the weekend. Another race beckons, far far away.

Nielsen will now travel to Malaysia to compete in the 2008 Petronas Primax 3 Merdeka Millenium Endurance Race, at Sepang International Raceway. He took outright victory in 2007 and will be looking to defind his title, come August 28-30.

He'll be joining his 2007 co-drivers Mahatir Mokhzani and Sven Herberger in a 997 RSR run by his 2007 Le Mans 24 Hour team, Italy's Autorlando Sport.

The final Le Mans Series round will be held at Silverstone, UK, September 12-14.


Will Liz get a christmas card?