For the 41st running of the toughest race on earth, Black Falcon, the privately owned local team from Meuspath took on the world’s biggest racing teams and Won! A monumental achievement for all those involved, in some of the most difficult racing conditions imaginable.
What a difference one year can make. In May 2012, the Black Falcon team started the 24 Hour race at Nürburgring with high hopes of victory. Having qualified in 3rd position, the team tasted bitter disappointment after the car was crashed following a high-speed tyre puncture on the fourth lap. Now one year later, that bitterness has been replaced by the sweet taste of success. A whole year in planning. Is what it took from the entire team including all the partners, drivers, team members and sponsors. With three SLS AMG GT3’s and two Porsche cup cars entered, the build up to this race, left the team with no time to spare. The start of the racing season was blighted by poor weather. Heavy snow and freezing conditions meant the first race and test days were cancelled. Leaving little time and fewer opportunities to make the final set up and preparation for the cars.
With two test days and two VLN races, the team worked alongside their partners: Dunlop, Bilstein, Pagid and AMG, to get the best working combination of tyres, dampers, brakes and chassis, to produce the number one performing car in the field. With this combined effort and many late nights the Black Falcon team worked tirelessly to have all the cars ready to go for the 24 our race.
For the 2013 entry, Black Falcon entered with car number 9, one of the strongest driver combinations in the field. Five times DTM champion and one of the living legends of Motor racing, Bernd Schneider, teamed up with his Dubai race winning team mates and Carrera Cup super stars, Sean Edwards, Jeroen Bleekemolen and new for 2013 Nicki Thiim. In car number 10, Andrii Lebed, Harri Proczyk and Dennis Rostek, making a second strong entry, joined Andreas Simonsen. For the third entry, sporting the number 63, Christian Bracke and 24-hour Nürburgring first timer, Khaled Al Qubaisi and their Pro driver, Daniel Keilwitz, joined Vimal Mehta.
After a washout on the Friday practice sessions, Saturday saw the sun come out over the Eifel and all three cars breeze into the Top 40 qualifying sessions. Andreas Simonsen topped the time sheets in both Qualifying 1 and 2. With the order of the Top 40 qualifying being decided by lottery, it was to the misfortune of Sean Edwards in car number 9 that he should get stuck behind slower traffic and therefore miss out on taking a place on the front row. Not that is would have mattered anyhow as the car 9 would also have to serve a five grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement in qualifying 1, meaning that Sean would start the race in P11. For Simonsen in car 10, a fantastic lap saw them taking P9 against some of the best teams and drivers in GT racing. For Keilwitz in car 63, in his first race in the SLS a respectable P17.
With the race starting unusually at 5pm on Sunday and the weather predicted 24 hours of rain, the teams were all happy to set off from the start line under dry conditions. However, for car 9 stating in P11 the challenge was going to be tough. With the Audi’s, Aston Martin and BMW steaming ahead from the start line, the Black Flacon number 9 was quickly losing time to the leaders and by the first pit stops already had a mountain to climb!
Sadly for Simonsen in Car 10 after a great start, had contact with a SEAT and damaged the right rear axle. Limping back to the pits where the Black Falcon mechanics worked furiously to have the car back on track, having lost only 6 laps. A great job by the team, but sadly now putting a podium finish well out of reach. The drivers would now be fighting to keep some pride and get into the top 20!
Meanwhile, Car 9 and 63 continued the battle on track. With Schneider at the wheel, the team moved in and out of the top 5 as the teams made their pit stops, and soon into early evening the rain started. By the time Bleekemolen took over the deluge had begun and cars were crashing off the track all over the place. Conditions continued to worsen with fog sitting on the track and soon after 11 pm the race organisers took the decision to temporarily stop the race. For car 9 this was a shame, as Bernd Schneider was now cutting his way back through the field to make up some to of the lost time from the opening stages of the race, the new Dunlop rain tyres, proving to be unbeatable in these conditions. However, this was to be cut short and the race would not start again until 8am the following day.
During the break, the cars were quickly cleaned up and made ready for the restart, unusually giving the drivers and team members some time to sleep. However with the race clock still ticking, time was getting short for Black Falcon to get to the front.
With great relief the race restarted at 8am and all three SLS were on track in what was still a very wet race. In conditions like these, the drivers had to be extra cautious to avoid getting involved in any accident, but for car 9 this was not the time to be too careful. There was a race to be won and Bernd Schneider had a point to prove. With the full Dunlop rain tyre working at its best, Schneider set the fastest laps in the field and pushed the car into the top 3. A driving stint that saw the team have their hearts in their mouths on many occasions. Soon Edwards took over and proved he too could be the fastest man on track. Car 63 in the hands of Nürburgring 24 hour first timer, Khaled Al Qubaisi taking the restart had crept its way into the top 20. Vimal Mehta took over for a clean stint before handing the car over to Christian Bracke.
Sadly for car 10, a technical issue saw the car stopping on track leaving no chance for a top 20 finish. The team did manage to get the car restarted and safely back into the pits.
By midday on Monday, with the rain easing and the track beginning to dry, car 9 moved onto the superior Dunlop cut slick. Demonstrating the great set up, fantastic strategy and awesome driving skills, car 9 was soon leading the field.
With careful planning and a little bit of luck the Black Falcon pit wall team chose a strategy that would allow them to make one less pit stop than their competitors. By the final stint with a four-minute lead, Sean Edwards was able to adopt a fuel saving mode and despite the hard charging Z4 from Marc VDS, Edwards was able to cruise to the finish line.
Finally all five Black Falcon cars finished the 24h Nurburgring race, the two Cup Porsche finished in the upper places in the strong SP7 class. No scratches or dents, only tires, fuel and brakes were used by the Porsche drivers, which have done a real zero-mistake-job under extreme conditions.
Winning the Nürburgring 24hrs has been the dream for all those involved with Black Falcon. The emotions ran high as this; the ultimate goal of winning was deservedly achieved. Giving Mercedes their first ever 24hr win at Nürburgring. A success like this is only possible, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Black Falcon team. Most especially mechanics, but also, the strategic planning on the pit wall, the support from Dunlop, Bilstein, Pagid and of course AMG, their team, and the all dominating GT3 car they have built.
A last lap misstep by another GTC team afforded the No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport team of Henrique Cisneros, Sean Edwards and Marco Seefreed to collect a podium finish in the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race.
The sister car, the No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche, led the GTC class for a couple of hours before a small problem with the brake light derailed their chance at a podium. Kuba Giermaziak, Carlos Gomex and Mario Farnbacher were the pilots of that entry.
The podium result for the No. 30 MOMO car puts them on a good track in the GTC championship with a third place standing in the points championship
Henrique Cisneros, MOMO owner/driver No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsports Porsche GT3, who drove a double stint: “What a fantastic finish! We knew we didn’t have the car to go for the win but we were hopeful for a podium.
The team did a fantastic job on the pit stops all day. For overall time, I think we were the second or third team with the least amount of time in the pits. We were very consistent and the team did a great job.
In the end during the last hour we always said we need a little luck on our side to be able to make it to the podium and luckily, with literally three corners to go, the third place car had a problem.
I think they ran out of fuel, and we passed them on the very last lap. Obviously luck was on our side. We couldn’t have asked for a better finish. We’re proud of the work everyone did and all the other drivers. We’re leaving with a very happy third place.”
I think it took the whole front bumper off and they didn’t even get a penalty for it which really ruined out race. Then on the last lap, I was cruising around and I saw a GTC car struggling out there so I dropped it down a gear and started pushing it.
It was the third place car. I managed to get by him with two corners to go. It was a great end to a not so good race but we’ll definitely take it for the podium. Everyone did an amazing job. Congratulations to the whole team.”
Marco Seefried, driver No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsports GTC class and Sebring rookie: “It was a very surprising race to the very end. I think the TRG #66 car ran out of fuel on the last lap. We got some luck at the end because previously we were unlucky.
I’m really happy with the podium. That’s a good result. I’m proud to be here, my first time and a podium. Thanks to NGT, thanks to MOMO and thanks to Porsche. It was really a great race and a great experience.
Kuba Giermaziak, driver No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver GTC class: “Our race was going well at the beginning. We had to struggle because we started from the back. We got back to Top 3. First we lost the lights during the day.
We don’t know how it happened, but it just fell off, probably from the vibration. Then Carlos (Gomez) got hit from the back. Luckily, we managed to fix the car under yellow.
We put the light in and fixed the rear bumper so we were sure everything was okay, but we didn’t have the brake light. We had to stop again to fix it. We were leading the race quite easily with about an eight second gap.
The crew tried to fix the light and they managed. Unfortunately, it took over 10 laps because of how they had to fix the wiring. At least we got a podium on the second car.
We should be happy for that because they drove much of the race without the front splitter, which is difficult to drive so they did a great job. This is a good finish for them for the season. For us, I think we will come back here next year and try to win it again.”
Mario Farnbacher, driver No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver GTC class and Sebring rookie: “We were leading three quarters through the race. We had a problem with the rear light and had to pit to fix it which cost us 12 laps.
It was not possible to get those laps back. It was a tough race. I think the team did a good job. Maybe at Petit we will do better and we finish on the podium.”
Carlos Gomez, driver No. 31 MOMO NGT Motorsport driver GTC class: “It has been a great experience. Obviously with what was going on in the ninth hour when we were leading the race, this is not the result we expected with that performance.
The guys did a great job in pit lane, as did my co-drivers. A little part, the brake pedal sensor, is what took us out of the race. It took the guys 30 minutes on pit lane to find and solve the problem.
Who would have thought it was that. But that’s how it is. Sometime you need a little bit of luck to win this race and we didn’t have it today.
The next race for the No. 30 MOMO NGT Porsche GTC of Henrique Cisneros and Sean Edwards will be Round 2 for the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race on April 19-20.
The iconic brand of MOMO is increasing its commitment to racing in 2013 with a presence in many racing series across the globe.
In the U.S., MOMO will launch a two-car assault in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at the 12 Hours of Sebring with two Porsche GT3 cars in the GTC class. The legendary No. 30 MOMO-liveried car will feature MOMO owner/driver Henrique Cisneros, Brit Sean Edwards and German Christian Englehart. The No. 31 MOMO-liveried entry has drivers Kuba Giermaziak, Mario Farnbacher and Carlos Gomez. Both cars will be expertly prepared by NGT Motorsports. The No. 30 entry will be a full-season ALMS effort with Cisneros and Edwards.
The MOMO flag will also be flown on no less than seven Porsche GT3 Cup cars, all under the NGT Motorsports stable. The cars are all competing at Sebring in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama race as follows: No. 23 Ary Krau, No. 24 Mark Llano, No. 25 Angel Benitez, No. 26 Carlos Gomez, No. 27 Daniel Duerson, No. 28 Amadeo Quiros and No. 29 Eduardo Cisneros.
Additionally, MOMO is supporting Dominican driver RJ Lopez in the Gold class of the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup and Alexis van de Poele in the IMSA Lites L1 class events, both entered at Sebring by ANSA Motorsports. RJ Lopez is a former Dominican Republic GT champion and runner-up in the 2010 Trans Am series. Alexis van de Poele is the son of the great Eric van de Poele; a two-time 12 Hours of Sebring, three-time 24 Hours of Daytona and five-time 24 Hours of Spa winner. Eric will be present at Sebring and provide his son Alexis with precious parental advice!
Finally, MOMO will expand to Europe this year with the sponsorship of a two entries program in the Porsche Supercup and one Audi R8 in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) GTC class, both racing under the new MOMO-Megatron Racing banner. MOMO will be announcing in the very near future its full driver line-ups for these two programs.
“The new MOMO owners are clearly very familiar with MOMO’s racing heritage and they share founder Gianpiero Moretti’s racing ‘DNA’ in their passion for the brand combined with their active participation in motorsports,” said MOMO’s CEO Massimo Ciocca. “Times have changed, but for now, we have gone back to our IMSA roots through our entry in the GTC category in the ALMS, with the red and yellow color scheme that reminds the fans of the iconic MOMO colors, upgraded with 21st century graphic design technology with chrome paints and fluorescent lines. For 2013 we have also expanded to additional series such as IMSA Lites in the US, the Porsche Supercup with the brand new Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car, and the ELMS with an Audi R8, to further highlight and increase the footprint of the popular MOMO brand. Needless to say, MOMO is definitely back to professional racing and we look forward to what the future holds for the company.”
The historic 12 Hours of Sebring race will be held on Saturday, March 16.
On the 12th January 2013, Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon made history by winning the Dubai 24 hour race twice in a row. For the second year running the SLS AMG GT3 took the top place on the podium after one of the toughest weeks in the team’s history.
Starting with testing on Wednesday, all was well with the two cars entered for Friday’s race. The pace was good, the set up working well and the drivers were happy. However, this equilibrium was soon brought to an end. Towards the end of the Wednesday practice, the session was stopped for a Red flag. The news over the radio told the team that sadly the car bearing Number One had spun at Turn 5 and crashed heavily into the barrier. With great thanks, the driver was unhurt, a testament to the strength and safety of the SLS AMG GT3!
With the car recovered to the pits it was immediately obvious that this chassis would never roll again. Various options were explored, with the support of AMG and in the end the personal relationship that AMG Bernd Schneider has with rival team Preci Spark, negotiations began to find a way the Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon could acquire their spare car.
Time was of the essence, as the team would have to strip the crashed car and build up the replacement chassis in 24 hours.
With thanks to the Jones brothers and the Preci Spark team a deal was struck and by 9pm Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon had a replacement chassis. With qualifying beginning at 5pm the next day, it would be a sleepless night ahead for the mechanics.
Through a quite unbelievable force of team work from the Black Falcon mechanics, lead by the never tiring power of chief mechanic Marvin Wagner, car Number One rose from the ashes and was able to dominate qualifying taking pole position by a healthy margin over its rivals.
Step one complete, but the car was only half ready to take on a full 24-hour race. Yet another sleepless night ahead as the mechanics toiled away to get this car ready. After all this we just could not fail now!
With the race starting at 1400 on Friday 11th January, it was becoming heart achingly close that the car would be ready. The team continued to work calmly and methodically to ensure every screw was done up properly, every measurement was accurate and that this car would not fail. It was a testament to the incredible team work, that only seconds before the race started, car Number One was in position, on the ground and ready to start the race. It should be mentioned that under normal circumstances after a rebuild of this type, a car we require a roll out before being used at race pace. This was now just not possible. Some fingers would need to be crossed!
In car Number Two, Andreas Simonsen had a fantastic start, pulling the car from 14th in qualifying up to seventh and well within sight of the leaders. Throughout the race there was numerous Code 60 “safety car” situations, from which the team seemed to almost always find not to be in their favour. Several times having only just passed the pit entry before a Code 60 began, or being stuck in traffic at the fuel pumps or just being behind a driver on the track driving 40 kmh, which on one occasion lost the team a full 90 seconds from their competitors. All in all the frustrations were mounting as the team fought to the front and then lost positions because of the Code 60.
Despite all this, by the half-way mark, car One occupied Position One and car Two thanks to the hard work of Khaled Al Qubaisi, Andreas Simonsen, Sergei Afanasiev, Simon Knap and Steve Jans, had puled itself up to Position two, behind its sister car.
However, their luck would not remain and throughout the night, car Two sustained a number of contacts with other cars until, despite the strong build of the SLS, the team had to bring the car into the pit garage for repair.
This was very sad as the mechanics and drivers had all been working hard and with great success, pushing the car for a definite podium finish. Losing 20 laps in the pit box, dropped car Two out of the top ten and out of contention for a podium. Therefore it become the new goal to finish as high up the top ten as possible and from here on in the divers would have to push hard.
With only one hour to go, Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon had once again taken complete control of the race.
The main competitors had gradually fallen away with problems of their own and car Number One driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sean Edwards took an emphatic win at 1400 on Saturday the 12th January.
Driving into Parc Fermé, Khaled once again jumped onto the bonnet of the car, shrouded in a UAE flag and unable to contain his emotion after this incredible story. Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon, back-to-back winners of the Dubai 24 hours!
For car Number Two, the fight back through the field had been metronomic and the drivers pulled the car into a respectable 7th place overall. Sadly not the result the guys had worked so hard to achieve, but with the confidence and knowledge that they can fight for top honors in 2014.
Marvin Wagner, technical director Black Falcon: „The title defence was not easy for us. I am very proud of my team, which showed that it works professional and focused also in difficult conditions. We did not had any technical problems on all three Black Falcon cars during the whole 24 hours and gained the victory as a reward.”
Also the Porsche 997 Cup GT3 entered by Black Falcon Team TMD Friction was managing its own up and downs during the Dubai 24 hours event. After setting the fastest Qualifying time in the 997-class with 2:03.944 Christian von Rieff, Christian Raubach, Burkard Kaiser, Erwin Stückle and Patrick Huisman started from position 15 overall and first in class, alongside the SLS #2. During the opening stages of the race, the Black Falcon Porsche #44 was the leading non-GT3-car in the field and always in the Top Twenty. Unfortunately after 8 hours of racing, another car hit #44 and the car had to return to the pits for repairs. The team worked feverishly to repair the car but sadly this meant two hours in the pit and #44 rejoined the race in position 57. During the night there was more drama as the team had to manage a second accident caused by a competitor. From the early morning the car #44 drove lap after lap from position 42 up to 28 overall and finished on position 5 in the class 997. In the last lap Christian von Rieff managed to drive next to the Black Falcon SLS #1 and crossed the checkered flag alongside the winning car for a team photo finish.
Sean Paul Breslin, Black Falcon SLS Team manager:
“We came to defend the victory. We have suffered a lot. We never gave up. And now we’ve done it.
After an excellent, self-sacrificing team performance our drivers have achieved the maximum and won for the second time in a row this prestigious race.
We are speechless, overjoyed and can not even believe it. Thanks to everyone who made this possible and especially to all the fans and supporters who have kept their fingers crossed.”
Jan Derenbach, Black Falcon Porsche Team manager:
“Unfortunately we had some bad luck with our Porsche during the race and had to handle two accidents which were caused by the mistakes of competitors. But in the first part of the race we showed that we are also competitive with our Porsche 997 Cup. I want to thank the mechanics and drivers who did a great job and I am very proud that we were able to defend the title.”
Henrique Cisneros, the 2010 and 2011 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champion, returns behind the wheel of the No. 30 MOMO-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 race car. Also returning to the MOMO team for 2013 is Sean Edwards. Edwards won the 2012 running of the 24 Hours of Dubai, is a former Supercup race driver since 2008 and co-drove with Cisneros at the Rolex 24 last season. The duo, paired with Carlos Kauffman and Nick Tandy, finished 18th in class and 29th overall in the 2012 running of the Rolex 24.
Cisneros and Edwards will be joined this year by 22-year-old Kuba Giermaziak, a three-year Porsche Supercar pilot who previously partnered with Cisneros in the 2012 ALMS Petit Le Mans race for a GTC class victory. The fourth driver for the 51st Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona is Porsche factory driver Patrick Pilet. The young Frenchman has been a Porsche factory pilot since 2008 and was the 2007 Carrera Cup France champion, as well as the 2010 24 Hours of Dubai winner.
The MOMO NGT Motorsport team previewed a demonstration to their commitment to the MOMO brand and its heritage at last year’s 50th annual running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a press announcement and unveiling of the car in a rather familiar red, yellow and black livery that evoked memories of its founder, Gianpiero Moretti’s glory days of racing. Look for a similar livery for the car for this year’s twice-around-the-clock running of the historic race.
“We are proud to be returning to the Daytona 24 Hours this year and with an exciting driver line-up,” said MOMO co-owner and team driver Henrique Cisneros. “We had some successes last season, including our class victory at Petit Le Mans and numerous podium finishes in the American Le Mans Series. We plan to build on that in 2013 and no better place to start than Daytona.”
“We are looking forward to the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona,” said Wahab. “We are proud to have MOMO again for 2013 and are thankful for Porsche Motorsport’s support. I’m very confident for a posi tive achievement this year as we have some of the best Porsche drivers on our team representing successes from around the world.”
The No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport team will be present at the Roar Before the 24 Daytona Test Days on January 4-6, 2013. Drivers Sean Edwards and Kuba Giermaziak will be the only drivers represented at The Roar testing.