Team Falken gets frank about Mazda Raceway result
The complaint – and the joy – of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the tightness of the racetrack and the toughness of passing. Add in all four classes of the TUDOR United Sports Challenge (TUSC) running together and it’s a perfect storm for both racers and fans.
For Team Falken and its two veteran drivers, Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers, and their Porsche 911 RSR, the storm hit early and did not let up as the team took home 8th place in the GTLM class. The team started with several tough practice sessions as it set up the car, but the Porsche got faster as each session passed. “At first, we were 1.5-seconds from the Porsche factory cars,” noted Neil Fife, Falken Tire’s race engineer, “but by qualifying, we were just 0.5-seconds off the factory Porsches, so we clearly improved.”
“The race started very exciting for me,” according to Henzler. “It went green and everyone was on full throttle, but all of a sudden, on my left, I saw the Corvette in front of me slowing down and I had to slam on the brakes. So my start was not so good, and we were last and I couldn’t make up any position.
“I couldn’t pass the Corvette and couldn’t get close and lost aero downforce and therefore lost speed at the exit,” Henzler continued. “I managed to move forward at some point, and I think we learned a lot over the weekend, through every set-up we made a change, and after the race we know we could have done more, and it’s something we will continue to work on for the next test at Watkins Glen.”
Added Sellers: “I think it was both a good and frustrating weekend. We made some changes that adjusted the balance to the car, but during the race it was difficult, and there wasn’t much passing. In Wolf’s stint we got up to fourth, and then he got hit by the BMW and we went backwards, and we stopped again. We had excellent pit stops, but these cooler temperatures at Laguna – not uncommon – affected us and we had some trouble coming up to temp on the tires and suffered a loss in place. Once the tires were on temp, we could race with the other cars, but it was too late, but we definitely discovered some good data that we can move forward with; we’ll do more with it in the future.”
“We did get a lot of work done,” said Phil Howard, Team Manager. “Honestly, post-race, we discussed it among the crew and we probably could have done more adjustments for car setup, however we didn’t want to overdo it and throw the car in a unbalanced state, but it’s always about being positive and Watkins Glen is next for the GTLM Class. It’s a long one and we usually do quite well at the endurance races.”
Round five of the TUSC moves to the Motor City for the 100-minute race at Belle Isle in Detroit, set for May 29-30, and featuring the P, PC and GTD Classes. The GTLM class will next race at Watkins Glen, Round six, June 26-28 for the six-hour endurance event.