TEAM FALKEN TIRE LAGUNA SECA RACE REPORT
Monterey, California – September 19, 2011 – It was a frustrating and short day for Team Falken Tire at the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron in which the #17 Team Falken Tire Porche 911 GT3 RSR was forced to retire early after being hit from behind and suffering irreparable damage. After qualifying in the ninth position for the GT grid of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler were scored 12th in the final results after completing less than half of the six hour endurance event.
Sellers took the green flag at the Northern California track in his Falken Tire Porsche and throughout his first stint was able to maintain position and was involved in many of the now very familiar and fan favourite ALMS GT battles. The first setback for the team came when the American driver dove into the pits for his first stop; a miscommunication on the radio caused the Falken Team to have a lengthy stop, allowing the leaders to go past, leaving the #17 car a lap down. After the stop Sellers went out with a full tank of fuel and a fresh set of Falken Tires and focused on making up the lost ground by maintaining a quick pace around the 2.238-mile track.
After completing his first two stints, Sellers handed over the controls to teammate Henzler and the German driver carried on with the program of recovering the lost lap and taking the fight back to the leaders. His day was cut short however when he was coming into Turn 2 and a slower GTC car made a mistake under braking and collided with the Falken Tire machine, damaging the radiator, engine and gearbox and eventually forcing its retirement. The Falken Tire crew made a valiant effort to repair the car and try to get back out on track to salvage some points, but the damage was too severe and the car remained in the garage for the rest of the race.
The Falken Tire Team will now have only a few days to repair their damaged machine and get ready for the season finale of the 2011 ALMS Season. The Petit Le Mans will take place on October 1st at the Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia. The 10-hour event is one of the highlights of the schedule for the series and it will bring a record 57 cars from over the world that will be looking to take the victory at one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world.
Wolf Henzler Driver, #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
“ I really don’t know how it happened, I made the clean pass and then I was hit really hard from behind and then I knew we had a problem. It’s a pity because there was plenty of time left in the race but unfortunately the repairs required would just take too long.”
Bryan Sellers Driver, #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
“It was a rough day today, we knew that Laguna Seca was going to be a little bit of challenge coming in but we had some high hopes. We had a plan that we wanted to use throughout the race to evaluate the tires and prepare for the cold tonight because we knew that was going to be the challenge but unfortunately we got stopped short. We didn’t have good stint in the beginning and then Wolf got him from behind in a GTC car so all in all it was rougher day than we would’ve liked to have.
The good thing is that we are learning and discovering more problems that we need to address and Laguna Seca has brought to light some new problems that we know we need to be better at for upcoming races and for next year so hopefully we can take a bad weekend and get some positives out of it.”
Derrick Walker Team Director, Team Falken Tire
“It was a frustrating race for us because we had a little miscue on communications coming in and our pit stop took longer than it should and it made us loose a lap. We weren’t out of the running at that point but when Wolf got in the car and started catching up he was hit by a GTC car from behind and that pretty much destroyed the car and we couldn’t continue or repair it in time.
It’s a frustrating end because we were really hoping to have a solid finish here and keep the points going but it wasn’t to be. On the good news front, the 45 car had a great finish to get another win for Porsche.
I think the only positive thing we can look at for this weekend is that it was a practice run for Road Atlanta. We are putting everything on the line for the last race and we learned a lot from this race so hopefully it will transfer over to Road Atlanta and we can have a strong run at the Petit Le Mans.”