SELLERS STRONG IN HEAT, TEAM'S DETERMINATION UNWAIVERED Lakeville, CT -- July 24 It was a hot and humid race in Lime Rock Park for Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÃ³n. But the ...
SELLERS STRONG IN HEAT, TEAM'S DETERMINATION UNWAIVERED
Lakeville, CT -- July 24 It was a hot and humid race in Lime Rock Park for Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. But the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche showed its speed and tenacity around the 1.53-mile track for the Northeast Grand Prix.
Friday began with early morning showers, and after a successful practice, the team prepared the #17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, knowing that the qualifying session would most likely mean running in the rain. Sellers' teammate, Wolf Henzler, drove the Team Falken Tire Porsche for the qualifying session, and the car was undeniably fast. "Wolf did a great job in qualifying and really restored hope within the team and brought back the motivation," remarked Sellers. Henzler was able to secure the second fastest lap of the GT Class, giving the #17 a much coveted starting position. "Heading into the race on the front row at least starts you in good position for a good result," said Sellers. "At Lime Rock [Park], qualifying is a huge element of the race because it's so difficult to pass. We had extremely high hopes because of his efforts."
And those hopes were needed as race day proved to be an entirely different situation. With blue skies and a persistent sun, the track began to dry out, changing the running conditions drastically from the previous day. As a result, the car set-up needed to change, and the team only had morning warm-up to analyze the data. "The condition changes were difficult for us, maybe more difficult than the other GT cars," noted Sellers, "because this was our first trip to Lime Rock [Park] as a team, so we had no past experience to draw from." After warm-up, the team made a change to the #17 in hopes that it would improve the dry-track running of the Porsche. As Sellers observed, "Our dry set up was a stab in the dark based off past races."
As the green flag waved, Sellers' teammate Henzler was once again in the car. Though able to hold on to the P-2 class position for a while, the #17 found itself at the mercy of the yellow flags. "We gambled with our strategy early in the race hoping the first two yellows would be the only," explained Sellers. "When the third yellow came out, it ended up putting us a lap down from the leaders." With three yellows in the first hour alone, it was obvious that although the track was drying out, the inconsistent conditions were hazardous.
The #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche came in for its third pit stop on Lap 90, and Sellers jumped behind the wheel. "When I got in, our strategy was to go as far as we could as fast as we could, and hope to capitalize on others' mistakes," said Sellers. And the strategy worked until Sellers found himself struggling to slow the car down.
"When I went into the second chicane, the brake pedal went to the floor. By the time I got the pedal pumped back up, it was too late and the car spun into the outside tires." Despite the contact, the formidable Porsche 911 GT3 RSR drove away fairly unscathed. "The Porsche is built so strong that the damage was very minimal," said Sellers, "and we were fortunate to get away with just cosmetic damage." As the checkered flag flew, Sellers claimed a P-8 finish for the #17 Team Falken Tire entry, a true accomplishment against the challenges the team had faced.
Although they had very little data to work with, the Falken Tire team showed great fortitude and commitment. "The guys this weekend put together a good car with very little data," noted Sellers. b^0x001cIt really shows how far we have come as a team. All the pieces are falling into place and it won't be long before we really show what we are capable of." Sellers will have another chance to show the capabilities of the Team Falken Tire Porsche in Lexington, Ohio, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, August 5 -- 7.