- Sellers ready for Long Beach street circuit
- Home race for Falken Tire team
Bryan Sellers Opens Alms 'Sprint' Season In Long Beach
Legendary Street Course Site of Sellers-Falken Tire Association
I think Long Beach has a special place in every American driver's heart.
Bryan Sellers will open the "sprint" race portion of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrsn on the city streets of Long Beach, CA this Saturday. While the ALMS is best known for its exhilarating competition in endurance races: 12 hours at Sebring, six hours in Monterey, CA, four on the Road America circuit and 1,000 miles at Petit Le Mans, the heart of the nine-race schedule features events of two hours, 45-minutes in length and one, the April 16 Tequila Patrsn American Le Mans Series at Long Beach Grand Prix, of only two hours. These "sprint" races place greater importance on speed and race craft over endurance and perseverance. With No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR co-driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), Sellers is primed to the take to the streets in pursuit of his first career, ALMS GT class victory on a track which stands apart in the personal history of the Braselton, GA-resident.
The Pacific Ocean breeze-swept streets have played host to many of motorsports' milestone moments. For Sellers - widely recognized as one of the ALMS' strongest, young American talents - the Southern California coast has been the site of many personal firsts as well. Most importantly, Long Beach played host to his official debut as a Team Falken Tire factory driver. The 2009 debut, which was part of a limited, three-race schedule for the team, saw impressive performances by Sellers and Falken. That is no easy task in a sport dominated by a list of longtime participants who had seemingly cornered the market on success. In 2010, now joined by Henzler, the blue and turquoise Porsche took the next step leading a large portion of the race. The operation is now positioned to move ahead again, placing Sellers in an excellent position to stand on the ALMS podium here at Long Beach.
The Long Beach street course, which predates Sellers by seven years, has changed layouts multiple times since 1975. However, it remains the "grandfather" of all North American street courses and is considered, like Monaco, a true pioneer in the sport. Its now iconic hairpin, final turn has become one of the most recognized action spots in the sport. Because of the tight turning radius required, the corner can also swap the fortunes of competition between the GT and prototype classes. The inherent design characteristics of the cars allows the GT cars to often out-negotiate the purebred racing machines in this turn. However, the reversal is short lived as they enter onto Shoreline Drive's long, bending front-straightaway. There, the horsepower advantage of the prototypes allows them to quickly reassert their dominance for the remainder of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn facility.
It is an abbreviated weekend for the former open wheel champion in more ways than race length. ALMS competitors will open with a single, two-hour practice on Friday morning before qualifying that afternoon in a shortened 15-minute GT class time trial. Adding to the challenge, no pre-event warm-up will be held prior to the 4:30 p.m. (PT) race start on Saturday. Sellers and Henzler will need to extract every ounce of knowledge from the Falken tires and the No.17 Porsche in the practice to provide the Derrick Walker-led team enough information to ready not only for qualifying but the race as well.
About the Grand Prix of Long Beach: "I think Long Beach has a special place in every American driver's heart. We grow-up watching and dreaming about winning this race. I love coming to Long Beach and being in this atmosphere; it's our goal to have a good result with the Team Falken Tire Porsche and stand on the podium this weekend."
About the "sprint" format at Long Beach: "Long Beach is very different from all the other races that we attend and the length [of the race] is certainly one of the reasons. Although all of our races have truly become a full-out sprint, your mindset does change in the shorter races. There is no need to conserve anything in a race of this distance; you use every last bit of energy you have and you push and race hard every lap."
There is nothing that we have done special for Long Beach but the tire worked really well here last year.
About the Long Beach Schedule: "The schedule at Long Beach is probably the hardest obstacle we have to overcome. With such little track time it puts a huge emphasis on preparation. Everything must be right prior to the first session. You just have no time for mistakes. It also makes it important to have a good car [setup] rolling off the truck because you don't have a lot of time to tune."
About the success of the Falken Tire at Long Beach: "I am not sure what has made the Falken tire successful here if I am being perfectly honest. There is nothing that we have done special for Long Beach but the tire worked really well here last year. I hope this year is no different."
Live coverage of Long Beach Grand Prix Qualifying can be found on www.ESPN3.com, Friday, April 15 at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Flag-to-flag coverage of Saturday's race will air live on ESPN3.com on April 16 at 7:15 p.m. (ET). ESPN2 will air the Long Beach Grand Prix highlight show on Sunday, April 17 at 5:00 p.m. (ET). Live timing and scoring of each session can be found at www.AmericanLeMans.com .