Team Falken takes third place in GTLM class at 12 Hours of Sebring
With its strong trio of drivers – Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long – Team Falken maintained a consistent challenge for the lead in the GTLM Class during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, eventually settling for the final podium step in its class with its third place finish at Sebring International Raceway, Round 2 of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar (TUSC) season.
Though the team qualified 8th, Falken’s Porsche 911 RSR quickly moved to the front, which had been dominated by the two factory Porsche entries who qualified first and second. With Sellers setting fastest lap for the team, all three drivers – supported by a well-prepared pit crew and a good Falken tire – never let up their aggressive challenge for the race win.
“It was just a strong race effort by all of Team Falken,” stated Nick Fousekis, Falken’s Director of Motorsports and Marketing. “We spent a fair amount of time testing at Sebring, and with our previous strong results in endurance racing, we knew we had both a good game plan and an incredible determination to score well.”
“The weather also was cheering us on,” added Yoshi Yasuda, Team Falken tire engineer. “When it cooled, the temperature played to our advantage as our Falken RT-Slick tire exhibited even better grip.”
The third place finish came as a result of a tough battle in the last 30 minutes as Falken’s Pat Long challenged Pierre Kaffer in the Ferrari F458 Italia for second, moving past the F458 only to be repassed by Kaffer. With time the true enemy, the checker flew at the 12-hour mark, and the team finished in third – 12th overall out of 44 starters – and just 27.6 seconds behind second place. Antonio Garcia in a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R won the GTLM class. Team Falken’s privateer Porsche 911 RSR was the only RSR to register a podium.
“Team Falken was right where we wanted to be – in the thick of things,” declared Derrick Walker. “Everything clicked – as we had prepped for – and while we didn’t finish at the top, we registered key points for the team and our drivers, which help us toward our ultimate goal of the GTLM championship. This is the kind of motivation we need as we head toward our ‘home track’ of Long Beach next month.”
All three drivers agreed with Walker that the increased testing commitment paid off. “I’m happy with a podium after a pretty trying day,” noted Long. “It was awesome to lead early on, and in the end, third place was good. It’s a great honor to be part of this group with Bryan and Wolf and the entire Walker/Falken organization and I look forward to returning at Petit Le Mans.”
The balance of the season prior to Petit will continue with Henzler and Sellers. Added Henzler: “It was a great team effort today – our Falken tires were running great. Equally important, the changes made for the race were the way to go. It was good that for a while, we were leading the race, but at the end, we were not quite there, but the speed was there. So I’m happy with third place.”
Sellers echoed the fact that the Porsche RSR was consistently fast. “It was a good improvement from where we were in qualifying. I’m excited with third, and the result shows good focus for the future.”
Up next, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will host the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase as part of the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 18, 2015.