Team Falken gains points at Rolex Daytona 24
Though no stranger to the fluctuations of endurance racing, which have resulted in back-to-back GT Le Mans Class victories at the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, one of the highlights of the TUDOR United SportsCar season, the No. 17 Porsche 911 RSR of Team Falken proved fallible in hour 19 when a drivetrain failure ended its first Rolex 24.
Still, the only privateer 911 RSR team in North America was able to profit through the valuable skills it developed throughout the entire week of Daytona practice in order to achieve the optimal set-up, which ultimately paid off as the trio of drivers in Bryan Sellers, Wolfgang Henzler and Patrick Long were competitive throughout their time on track.
“Admittedly, we were anxious – though confident – going into the race,” stated Nick Fousekis, Falken’s Director of Motorsports Marketing and Consumer Events. “It was very gratifying that we were able to hold down P2 and P3 for extended periods during the race, demonstrating that our AZENIS RT slicks performed well and worked nicely with the car’s chassis, achieving a good, overall balance.”
“One hundred percent agree; it was a great team effort truly,” added Derrick Walker. “There’s a saying – ‘effort equals results’ and as we have proved before, it’s only a matter of time when we win again. We are looking forward to Sebring.”
Indeed, the Falken 911 RSR was in third position in the GTLM Class up to the 19th hour when the car experienced the powertrain issue. It was serious enough that the car had to be parked for the balance of the race, leaving behind a very disappointed team, which felt it had the strength and skills to power through to first.
“Daytona is a difficult race where a lot of things need to fall in place to get the result we all want,” noted driver Bryan Sellers. “Unfortunately for Falken Tire we had some issues that took us out of the race. There were, however, many more high points in the race than there were low. We showed good speed and consistency that allowed us to run near the lead the entire time. I feel like everyone performed at a high level, and for our first trip to Daytona we were pretty successful.”
Added Porsche Factory Driver Patrick Long, who will be racing with Team Falken for all of this season’s endurance runs, “I think the whole Team Falken organization has a lot to be proud of. Endurance racing these days is really a sprint race and we were able to challenge for the lead while running mistake-free in the pits and on track. I am pumped for Sebring!”
Porsche Factory Driver Wolf Henzler noted that despite the results, the team was able to score points for the championship. He added that the team didn’t focus on qualifying and instead studied how Team Falken could get a better race car.
“Going into the race, it came to what I expected in that we had a really good car,” Henzler observed. “Our Falken tires were durable and were able to run good lap times even at the end of each stint. We had no problems at all up to the drivetrain forced us to bring the car to the garage, but overall, it had looked so good. Having raced at Daytona 10 times, I know what it takes to do a 24-hour race and to finish on the podium: you need not only a fast car, you also need a lot of luck, and this time, we didn’t have the luck. Maybe Sebring will bring us some.”
Along with the two factory Porsche 911 RSR entries, all of the Porsches completed 70 percent of the overall race winner’s distance making them eligible for valuable championship points. The points go towards the defense of Porsche’s 2014 GTLM Manufacturer Championship.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship now travels across the state to compete in the 63rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida. Sebring International Raceway will host the second round of the 2015 season on March 18-21.