Bryan Sellers Takes his Position as Only Non-Porsche Works Ace Seriously at Sebring
American Driver to Debut Only Privately-Entered Porsche 911 RSR in the World
SEBRING, Fla., March 10, 2014 – With the start of the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 15, Bryan Sellers will become the first non-factory Porsche driver in the world to turn a race lap in a Porsche 911 RSR. The magnitude of that honor didn’t take long to sink in for the Braselton, Ga.-resident. When Porsche Motorsport signs off on you for a role behind the wheel of the up-until-now factory-only 911 RSR, you take the honor seriously. And you prepare with intensity. Sellers, who has raced Porsche 911s since 2008 and been a Falken Tire factory driver since 2009, understands the magnitude of racing the first privately-held 911 RSR, the most current and sophisticated 911 racecar ever built. The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany), will debut in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Sebring International Raceway this week.
Having missed the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona because of the car’s build schedule, Sellers, Henzler and Holzer each had a run in the car they dubbed “Valentina” at the TUDOR Championship official test here in Sebring in late February. With the car coming straight from Porsche Motorsport’s factory in Weissach, Germany to Florida, and still unpainted in the familiar Falken Tire teal and green livery at the time, no one knew what to expect with a car in a privateer team’s hands or on Falken’s Azenis race tire for the first time. By the end of the two-day, four-session test, the car, the team, the drivers and the tire all proved up to the daunting task. The No. 17 ended the final practice fourth in the GT Le Mans (GT LM) class against the two Porsche North America factory cars and other manufacturer programs from BMW and SRT. The test was the first time that any team or driver not directly employed by Porsche had turned a lap in the 911 RSR. Henzler – Sellers’ full-season teammate in the No. 17 – and Holzer – who will race the two remaining TUDOR Championship endurance races with Falken while campaigning fulltime in a factory 911 RSR entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship – are both Porsche “works” drivers. Sellers and Henzler enter their fifth season as Falken Tire teammates with four previous combined victories including the 2013 season-ending Petit Le Mans.
Despite the initial success in testing – and back-to-back 24-hour victories for the 911 RSR factory cars – the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit will prove the most demanding test yet on man and machine. Its combination of turns, track surfaces and bumps can ‘spring a trap’ at any moment. A new car, no matter how well prepared or the pedigree it comes from will be challenged to go the full race distance. In 2013, Sellers and Team Falken Tire proved up to the challenge finishing third.
You can visit the official web site of IMSA for timing and scoring of each session beginning with Thursday’s first practice session at 9:55 a.m. EST, the second session at 4:05 p.m. and “Night” practice at 8 p.m. the same day. A fourth, one-hour practice will take place at 9:55 a.m. on Friday, March 14 with TUDOR Championship GT LM qualifying at 4:30 p.m. Final warm-up will be race morning, Saturday, March 15 at 8 a.m. The 12 hours of racing will begin at 10:15 a.m. EST on Saturday.
The first three hours of the 62nd 12 Hours of Sebring can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 with the remainder of the event streamed live at IMSA.com. A three-hour recap of the race can be seen on March 16 at 8:30 a.m. EST.
On being the only non-Porsche factory driver to race the 911 RSR: “It's certainly an honor and a privilege to be the only non-factory driver to be in the new Porsche 911 RSR. First and foremost, it's an incredible car and I am very excited to be able to race it. There is a lot of knowledge that comes from being associated with Porsche and Falken Tire. I have spent the last few years of my career being fortunate enough to learn and be paired with both of them. This opportunity will bring together everything we’ve learned as a team over those years.”
On the approach to Sebring: “It is difficult but you cannot approach Sebring any differently than any other race. You have to be smart and push hard the entire time. You must be fast and try and put yourself in a position to win in the end. Anything short of that, and I can promise you, you won’t win.”
On his goals for Sebring: “It may sound lofty, but my goal for Sebring is a win! We are coming into a race that we were successful at last year with a new car that has already won two of the biggest endurance races in the world: Le Mans and the Rolex 24 At Daytona. I would like to contribute to and continue Porsche's success and have the Falken Tire 911 RSR win a third!”
On what the team learned in testing: “Testing here at Sebring last month taught us lot. We learned about what options we have with car setup moving forward. Our engineers have reviewed and analyzed all the data and put together a great plan on how to progress through the week. Those two days won’t overcome missing Daytona but it certainly helped close the gap to where we would have been!”
On his co-drivers in the No. 17: “I am very honored and happy to be able to return with Wolf [Henzler] for yet another year. We have also added Marco Holzer for the long races. It is a great dynamic! We have all been friends for quite some time. It is nice to finally have Marco on our team instead of fighting against him. This is a great lineup and I am proud to be a part of it.”
On his personal off-season preparation: “I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on fitness in the off-season. There is no replacement for driving the racecar but with missing Daytona it was important for me to be as physically prepared as possible. There is no outside pressure on me that is greater than the pressure I put on myself to succeed. I wanted to come into this day as prepared as I could possibly be!”
On why the nickname Valentina: “We called the new Porsche 911 RSR Valentina because she was born on Valentine’s Day. The name came from Wolf because it was the first day she was ever driven.”
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