Baltimore, MD. (Sept. 1). For the second consecutive year, Team Falken Tire dominated in the streets of downtown Baltimore to take home the GT class win in the American Le Mans Series. Leading 42 out of 67 laps, Falken drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers put on one of the best shows of the 2012 race season.
Porsche Factory driver Wolf Henzler started the two hour sprint race in seventh position, narrowly avoiding an incident in turn one of the first lap. Henzler held his racing line and in the first lap, climbed three positions to race in fourth. The incident in turn one resulted in a yellow flag, lasting for the next six laps. In the immediate laps following the restart, Henzler gained two more positions to advance to second, fighting fiercely to hold lap times competitive to those in the GT class. A penalty to the lead GT car allowed not only to advance to the lead GT position, but gave him the ability to gain a four second lead over the field.
Roughly 37 minutes into the race, Henzler gave up the lead and brought the Falken Porsche into the pits for fuel, tires and a driver change. "The decision we made in our strategy meeting before the race was to pit before everyone else did," explains Program Manager Derrick Walker. "When your competitions dip in, take it early, and then they get a clean race track and run fast. We decided we would take the race to them." The 17 Porsche was the first of the GT cars to pit, and with Bryan Sellers behind the wheel, rejoined the field in eighth. As the rest of the field followed suit, Sellers advanced to again take the Porsche to the lead position. By lap 29, Sellers had worked up a 4.5 second gap over the rest of the GT field. Two full course yellows came out in the final half of the race, erasing the lead that Sellers worked so hard to build, but the American racer never gave up. On both restarts, Sellers had the Corvette of Oliver Gavin hot on his wheels. "Luckily for us, we have Wolf who does the impossible and drove from seventh up to the lead," said Sellers. "When you're given that opportunity, you can't falter. My only mindset was to go as hard as I could and as long as I could, and not let that be the thing that stopped us from getting a win." In lap 67, the Falken Tire roared across the finish line to win at the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT.
"A couple of weeks ago we were loading the Porsche in the truck with the nose bent off following our crash at Road America," says Program Manager Derrick Walker "The guys worked flat out all the next week to put it back together. We came here and it ran flawlessly all weekend." Using the same tires as the 2011 race win, Walker calls the Falken Azenis RT race slicks "one of Falken Tire's treasures," crediting them as lasting over the long haul, wearing down the competition's tires.
The team will take the momentum of this Baltimore win to Road Atlanta next week to continue the constant pursuit of tire development. "It's by no means over," says Walker. "We're just beginning. We're the little tire that could and those other tire manufactures have been racing for a long time and they have strong teams. They're going to be as tough as ever. Road Atlanta is the final race and one of the most important for us."
Source: Team Fallken Tire