Déjà vu at Petit Le Mans
For the second straight year, Team Falken proved it was the endurance team to beat by taking top honors in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at the final race of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Series at the Petit Le Mans 10-hour held at Road Atlanta.
Running its Porsche 911 RSR prepared by Derrick Walker Racing and driven by Porsche Works and Falken team driver Wolf Henzler and his long-time partner, Falken veteran driver Bryan Sellers – who were joined for this race by Marco Holzer – the team took first place once again at the demanding 2.54-mile, 12-turn course. In taking the win, Team Falken enabled Porsche to clinch the GTLM class championship in the inaugural season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“We won here last year in what was the final Petit Le Mans under the ALMS banner,” noted a very elated Henzler, “and now we have won the first United SportsCar Petit Le Mans,” a sentiment echoed by Sellers.
“Team Falken came here earlier and tested and found good tires – the Falkens were fantastic all race,” Henzler continued. “From the beginning of the race, our Porsche maintained a strong pace; we could stay with our competition in the GTLM class and then later on in the race, we could even go faster than the other cars in our class. Leading at the end, the tires fit so well to the car today – they made Porsche’s performance just awesome. Our pit stops by the team were great; we were able to overtake cars in the pit lane. What we did today was the same as last year – we drove a consistent race and stayed out of trouble and relied on our team to take care of us in the pits.”
Sellers found words difficult to express his happiness. “I think it’s either vindication or justification or both for all the hard work Falken – as a team – puts into this program. I mean, it’s everyone – the crew – the people in Japan…. This win is for them. We have all worked so hard this year, and especially for this race, and this is exactly the result we wanted.”
Added Team Manager Walker: “The 10-hour endurance that we know as Petit Le Mans is always difficult to win one time; when you win it twice – and back-to-back – it’s very sweet. The team, drivers, tires, the Porsche, everything just worked as it should today, and that’s what you have to have to win this grueling race once… and now, twice. I’m just so happy with the team – everything worked extremely well.”
Team Falken was strong the moment the liftgate on the transporter touched the tarmac. Sellers set a very fast lap early in practice and again during qualifying and placed the 911 RSR third behind one of the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs, whose driver, Nick Tandy, earned pole.
The team ran well during the race – staying close to the front – and managed to take advantage of other drivers who were getting stuck in traffic. Henzler noted that the Porsche continued to go faster even for the final laps, and the Falken AZENIS RT slicks were still gripping the track.
“It’s a great win for Falken,” added Rick Brennan, Falken’s Executive Director of Marketing. “Two in a row proves what we already know – Falken make great tires. And we can show it and prove it to everyone else in a venue like this. So with the great, hard work from the entire team and all those who support Falken’s race program, our efforts paid off. This win shows Falken is really a special company and a special place to work for all of us.”