Falken celebrates a great season at Petit Le Mans
For the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón brought a fifth place position in GT class for Team Falken and 4th in the final results for the GT Team Championship, and 5th place in the GT Drivers' Championship. With two wins plus four top five finishes out of nine races this year, the Derrick Walker-led team proved it was one to contend with throughout the season.
Record-breaking attendance surrounded the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit, which hosted the endurance classic for the 14th time. The 1,000 miles were covered in nine hours, 30 minutes, with Team Falken's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR piloted by Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler, and his partner, veteran Falken driver Bryan Sellers, joined again for this race by Porsche Junior driver Martin "Raggi" Ragginger. Raggi also drove with the duo at Sebring in March.
As was the case throughout the demanding season, which saw the team cross the country twice, compete over the border in Canada, and record its first two victories after just two full years of ALMS competition, Team Falken was successful as a result of both brilliant strategy and the tremendous effort of Henzler and Sellers.
In fact, Team Manager Derrick Walker and Strategist John Ward took full advantage of race yellows all season long, and with excellent pit work by the Falken crew, enabled the team to gain track position and move through the field at every track. This rang true throughout Petit Le Mans, as all three drivers answered the call to push hard through the busy 53-car field to take fifth in class, finishing 15th overall.
"Being our second full year of ALMS competition, we are glad to end the season with a top- five finish at Petit Le Mans," stated Kevin Jones, Falken's ALMS Supervisor. "Being just shy of the podium in the Team Championship is disappointing, but definitely something for us to build on for next year."
"To say that our accomplishments this season in the American Le Mans Series were great would be an understatement," declared Nick Fousekis, Falken's Director of Motorsports Marketing and Events. In true David vs. Goliath fashion, our one-car, non-factory effort competed with the world's best and took top honors at two of the nine rounds. Having done this is a true testament to the team's dedication and our Falken Tire product.
"I can only echo what Nick said," stated Andrew Hoit, VP, Marketing. "Media outlets have referred to Team Falken as the 'revelation of the 2011 ALMS season.' It didn't come overnight, as we have been methodical about our planning and race development all season long, as have our tire engineers, continually improving the AZENIS Race Slick.
"Equally important, we met a lot of people and connected with many retailers, customers and race enthusiasts all over North America," Hoit continued, "and certainly effectively leveraged the tremendous marketing opportunities afforded Falken Tire through ALMS. We're all competitive and wanted another podium finish, but this was a fantastic and very rewarding year for Falken."
At the ALMS banquet Sunday night, October 2, Team Falken Tire won the "For the Fans" award as the organization/person with the biggest impact on ALMS and sports car racing in 2011. This was based on voters who voiced their opinion on ALMS' website.