Podium for Team Falken at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
For the second time in the first three races in the 2013 season, Team Falken Tire put on another impressive performance to land on the American Le Mans Series GT podium. Saturday's second place finish not only marks the team's best finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but the best finish in the 2013 ALMS season.
Bryan Sellers started Round 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from second position in the GT class. With a perfect race start, Sellers in the No. 17 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR expertly passed the pole sitting Ferrari to lead the GT field in the first lap. Sellers maintained his lead for the next 47 minutes until the factory Corvette of Jan Magnussen took the position. Sellers pitted for tires and fuel in second place, passing the driving duties onto Porsche Factory driver Wolf Henzler.
With another flawlessly executed pit stop by the Falken Tire team, Henzler rejoined the field in second position, ready to continue the chase after Magnussen's Corvette for the lead. For the entirety of his stint, Henzler held the position and created a gap from third position. As the sun started to set and the temperatures started to drop, the Falken Tires continued to hold strong with the Porsche RSR, keeping up with the competing factory teams. Jan Magnussen had a slight speed advantage, but Henzler kept up close with the GT leader while fighting off the fellow Porsche of Marco Holzer, who stayed close behind. With some of the most intense ALMS GT racing so far this season, the drivers raced hard and clean.
Bryan Sellers took over for the final stint, which was hampered with full course cautions. In the final twenty minutes, Sellers and John Edwards in the factory BMW battled hard over second position. Sellers sat in second and in the final green lap, pulled away from Edwards to get up to the tail of Antonio Garcia's Corvette in first. In the end, Sellers crossed the finish line in second place, earning the second podium of the year for Team Falken Tire with Henzler.
"It was a great day," said Bryan Sellers. "To come away with second is fantastic. It was another one of those days where everything has to and did go right. The guys made no mistakes in the pits and we were fast. It's a huge improvement here for us. Hopefully this means we have some really good prospects for the future. I think it means we're moving in the right direction."
"It was a very good performance today and I think everybody can clearly see the team as a whole package is getting better and more competitive," said Wolf Henzler "We finished third at Sebring and second here today, and this shows our testing really paid off in the off season. Mazda Raceway is not an easy track, and we've always struggled in the past here. But this year we were so close. Bryan qualified second, so close to pole. In the race, we finished right behind the leader."
With three total ALMS race wins in previous, Team Falken Tire is off to a strong start to earn more podiums for 2013. In Round 1 at Sebring, the team earned a third place finish after an intense 12 hour long battle with intense factory competition and varying conditions. Known for superior performances on street courses, the team qualified second in Round 2 and raced up front on the streets of Long Beach. Round 3's second place finish reflect the progress Falken Tire has continues to make in tire development, car set up and team performance.