SEBRING, FL. - Today at the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida, Team Falken Tire raced from a 12th place starting position to be a top contender for a majority of the race before earning the final step on the victory podium.
With varying track temperatures, different track surfaces and twelve hours of intense competition, Sebring International Raceway demanded the best from drivers, teams and tires.
Wolf Henzler started the endurance event in twelfth and in the first lap, the Falken Tire Porsche had gained six positions. Henzler and co drivers Bryan Sellers and Nick Tandy each completed single stints for the first driver rotation, fighting their way up the GT class, and holding on to their positions.
With the right tires, the proper strategy and quick pit stops, Team Falken Tire was able to make consistent lap times, race clean and stay in the top five for a majority of the twelve hour race.
With perfectly executed pit stops, the team not only held and gained ground, but spent twenty seconds less of cumulative time in the pit box than any of the other GT class cars.
Finishing in third place in the final American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring puts the team in the third place in the championship heading into Round Two.
Derrick Walker, Team Manager: "A lot of preparation went into the off season to come out with a stronger package, from tires to car, to team. Particularly the tires it was a concentrated effort to make a new breed of tire that would perform better than what we had last year.
We needed one that was better suited for the RSR. As the result showed, we closed the gap quite a bit with where we were last year. With the tires and the team, everything went according to plan. It was a perfect race for us other than we needed a bit more."
Wolf Henzler: "It was a great day for Falken Tire. After qualifying and after this week of testing, I didn't really expect us to finish on the podium. But once the race started, I felt like that maybe there was a chance to finish on the podium or get a good result.
Always in the beginning of our stint we could follow with the faster cars. We made up a lot in the pit stops because our guys were so fast. They did such a good job all the time. Our car was just running without any problems.
I think this was the key to finish on the podium today. Both Bryan an Nick did a good job today as well. I think we can really be happy finishing third, and starting the season here with a third place championship standing."
Bryan Sellers: "Today was great. To be successful today we needed to run a completely error free race. The guys had to be great in the stops, and they were. If you look back at the total pit time, we were the GT car with the least amount of time spent in the pits.
That's a complete testament to how good our guys are. To be able to finish on the podium today, we needed to rely on them and then we needed to run a clean race. They came through, and ultimately we ended up coming through too.
We're really happy to be able to have a podium at Sebring. We started off the day and we really didn't think there was a chance of anything. It just goes to show if you put your head down and keep driving, and the guys keep pushing and keep working, you can end up on the podium.
It's cool to be able to stand there and say that you were on the podium for the last American Le Mans Series race at Sebring. Hopefully it's not the last time we're on the podium at Sebring with Falken Tire."
Nick Tandy: "I got up this morning and thought we could have a good race, and we have a chance. But really to get on the podium, I thought was a long shot. The team did such a good job. It was a real team effort. We kept on the lead lap. All three of us drove sensibly with no mistakes.
It goes to show there's a lot more to being successful in a long distance race like this than just having the fastest car. It has to be reliable, consistent and you need a great team of people around you which is exactly what we've got here. I'm really happy to get on the podium for my first Sebring 12 Hour."
April 19-20, the series will return to Long Beach, California, about 40 miles from Falken Tire's North American Headquarters, for Round Two of the American Le Mans Series.
Team Falken Tire