Dominik Farnbacher came of age in 2008, registering his breakthrough American Le Mans Series victory and going on to enhance his burgeoning reputation as the season progressed with three further triumphs – and he has vowed to do even better still in 2009.
Alongside compatriot Dirk Müller, the German drove Tafel Racing to its maiden series success in the hotly-fought GT2 class in only the second meeting of the campaign at St Petersburg, and the duo would go on to recover from a mid-season slump to rebound and finish as runners-up in the title chase, a mere 13 points adrift of champions Jörg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler in the Flying Lizard Porsche 911. All-in-all, not bad for a team that had only entered the ALMS a year earlier.
“Our goal in 2007 was to learn as much as possible about the American Le Mans Series strategies and race tracks,” Farnbacher explained. “You could see we did our homework with four wins [in 2008]. That was very good.
“Also, not to forget, we are a private team and we fought a championship with a factory team. If you look at that, then it was an outstanding performance for Tafel Racing.
“[It was] a great season for all of us as a team and drivers, but there is also a bittersweet taste involved. We could have won the championship if we hadn't had bad luck in Detroit and Sebring, but that's how it is. Second place is also very good.
“I think the team has become a championship team after this season. Tony Dowe and Dave Fullerton (engineer on the #73 car) developed the cars; Scott Besst (damper engineer and data acquisition) gave us the best dampers; Mike Menapace (data acquisition and strategy) [gave us] the best strategies and Ferrari the best car; Lee (Webb, mechanic) and PK (Peter Kaczmar, No. 1 mechanic on the #71 car) gave us the best-prepared car ever.
“It was teamwork which helped us to be so successful this year. It's a package of everything which decides a win or loss. In our case everything worked out very well. From the drivers' perspective, Dirk brought in all his experience from his American Le Mans Series seasons before and his driving skills from the FIA World Touring Car Championship – and I brought in happiness and calmness!”
As to highlights, Farnbacher says two races in particular stand out – his starring early performance at Road America in August, and a crucial victory at Mid-Ohio the previous month that had put an end to a two-race losing streak.
“My best driving moment this year was every time I was in the car,” the 24-year-old enthused. “I had so much fun driving for the team and the F430. I am still young and I have to get my experience up to the others, but in almost every race I felt good and I was satisfied with what I did.