SELLERS DRIVES FLAWLESS RACE, TOP TEN FINISH AT UTAH GRAND PRIX TOOELE, UT -- July 12 After a car fire early Saturday morning sent the ...
SELLERS DRIVES FLAWLESS RACE, TOP TEN FINISH AT UTAH GRAND PRIX
TOOELE, UT -- July 12 After a car fire early Saturday morning sent the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche back to the garage for extensive repairs, Bryan Sellers knew that racing in the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix in Round 4 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) was going to be tough. And he came prepared.
Despite incredible efforts by the team, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was unable to make qualifying, so the #17 was sent to the back of the 34-car grid -- a position that every driver hopes to avoid. "It's tough starting at the back of the grid for a lot of reasons," explained Sellers. "When anything happens, you're always in the thick of it. You're kind of stuck back where you don't want to be, and it's definitely the worst place to be at the start."
But potential accidents from front-runners aren't the only draw back. "The problem ends up being that when you start at the back, by the time you get to the front of the GT Challenge field, you have given up a lot of time," says Sellers. And with the GTC cars averaging lap times 5 to 6 seconds slower than the #17 Team Falken Tire entry, the problem can be compounded. "Your mind set going in is to just get through that as quick as you can, and then see how the race plays out after that."
As the green flag waved at Miller Motorsports Park, Sellers was the first to drive, and he made quick work of the field, flawlessly passing the slower GTC traffic, and moving expertly up to the rest of the GT competitors. Once up to speed, Sellers then focused on the important task of giving his team essential information about the car and its set-up. "What we were able to do is tune the car a little bit throughout the race, and actually in between drivers. They made a change after I got out and before Wolf got in, based on what I was able to tell them." Sellers' teammate, Wolf Henzler, took over the #17 Team Falken Tire entry at Lap 25.
Both Sellers and Henzler agreed that although the on-track changes were crucial and assisted both drivers in their success during the race, it's almost impossible to make up for lost track time. "But again, I have to give credit to my team. Without their hard work after the fire, we wouldn't have had a car at all. They really came together this weekend," said Sellers. "We got better as the race went on and the changes improved the car; but it was almost too little, too late. Missing sessions really hurt us."
Although the Team Falken Tire Porsche started at the back, flawless driving and smart engineering saw the #17 machine advance through the grid, landing the team a ninth-place GT Class finish after passing half of the ALMS competitors.
Bryan Sellers is already looking ahead to his next race, where he'll pilot the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Lime Rock Park for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix in Lakeville, CT, July 23-24.
With competition as close as the GT class of the ALMS Sellers knows the key to doing well is to never stop learning. "We'll go back and review everything we've learned over this weekend, take the tire data we've collected, and make our best decisions as to what to focus on moving forward to Lime Rock." There is no question that Sellers will be prepared.