Sebring 12 Hours
BRYAN SELLERS 12 HOURS OF SEBRING RACE REPORT
Mechanical Issue Ends Top-5 Drive for Factory Ace's ALMS Season-Opener
SEBRING, FL, March 22, 2011 - Bryan Sellers again proved why he is considered one of sports car racing's best, young talents at Saturday's 59th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Despite the overwhelming temperatures and the greatest Grand Touring (GT) class competition ever assembled, the Braselton, GA-resident charged the No. 017 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR into the top-five of the race's largest category in the 56-car field. In the end, the effort of the Falken Tire factory driver here in Sebring, FL would be for naught as the characteristically bulletproof car came to a stop on leader lap 220 with a gearbox failure. Sellers and his Team Falken Tire teammates Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Martin Ragginger (Austria) leave the first race of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season with a 17th in class finish.
The former open wheel racing champion was chosen by Team Owner Derrick Walker (Indianapolis) to take the green flag of the 12 hour endurance race. Sellers powered the blue on turquoise Porsche shod with Falken's newest racing slicks across the start-finish line 11th in class to start the clock ticking. A Florida sun beating down from a cloudless sky heated temperatures outside and inside the cockpit adding to the already heat-soaked pressure of the race. As a result, the race was marked by several on-track incidents. However, the No. 017 remained largely unscathed reaching nightfall with a clean car and running fourth despite a gradually worsening gearbox. With each lap the engagement of fourth gear - in the six-speed transmission - grew worse. Eventually, with just three hours remaining, Sellers felt the typically smooth sequential unit send out its final protest. Moments later, the day was over with heartbreaking silence for Sellers who saw his best chance to win one of the sport's hallmark events come to an end for this year.
The car's race day performance in what is widely considered endurance racing's most challenging event proved the off-season changes and effort of Sellers and Team Falken Tire. The native of Ohio and his team cut deeply into the once substantial competitive edge of the factory juggernauts. The overall competitiveness is encouraging as Sellers enters the April 16 American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The Southern California event has been one of Seller's favorites with exceptional performances on the temporary street course.
Bryan Sellers: About the race: "This was by far the most competitive GT field I have ever seen and we were holding our own in it. It was great to have the Falken Tire Porsche run so high up the charts for such a long duration of the race. However, we still have a ton of work to do."
About the ongoing development program: "Sebring was a very productive event for everybody involved with the Falken Tire program. We were able to learn a lot about the tires and our program leading us closer to our final goal. Team Falken Tire was able get some life and longevity out of the tires but we're still looking for the combination with the overall speed. It's going to be a balancing act for us; we must find a way to have both. I have no doubt we'll find it. Everyone is working really hard."
About the race-ending malfunction: "The gearbox had been a little rough since about Hour Four. When it finally did go out around Hour Nine the guys worked so fast to get it out of the car and inspect it. However, they realized the length of the repair would be greater than the amount of time left in the race. It was a disappointing way to end the day but we showed we can run towards the front."