Bryan Sellers Races to Fourth in Monterey GP
Falken Tire Driver Earns Second Top-Five in Three Races with Porsche 911 RSR
MONTEREY, California, May 5, 2014 - When Porsche handed the keys of its new 911 RSR to a privateer for the first time, expectations were tempered by the knowledge that the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class was a factory playground. Bryan Sellers and Team Falken Tire did not let that hold them back. In the third race of their 2014 season, the Braselton, Ga.-resident and longtime teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) have now earned a second top-five finish with the car. Sunday's fourth-place finish in the Monterey Grand Prix placed the No. 17 Team Falken Tire entry as the highest finishing Porsche in the two-hour race run in Monterey, Calif.
Debuting the car one race after the rest of the field, the Sellers/Henzler combination - joined by Marco Holzer (Germany) - fought to a fifth-place finish in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The next race, a short 100-minute sprint on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., did not produce the results the Ohio-native had hoped for but what was learned there translated well as the team moved north to the Monterey Peninsula to compete in the GTLM/Prototype (P) class race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS). Unlike the two previous races, this 2.238-mile facility is a natural terrain road course. It's 11-turns follow the hills and valleys of the area and are far better suited to the design of the legendary Porsche racecar. The track configuration and growing knowledge of the car/tire combination paid-off.
Sellers and Henzler were immediately quick entering the first day of practice on Saturday. Only a minor electrical hiccup prevented a stronger qualifying run late Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, Henzler started the car 10th. Sellers took the wheel near the race's midpoint. Finding the tires slow to heat - a condition anticipated on the low-grip type of pavement and cool ambient temperatures at MRLS - Sellers bided his time during the early portion of his run during the caution free race. As the temperatures rose in the tires, Sellers found that the tire not only gained speed but maintained its grip well into the stint. He was able to take advantage of the strong Falken tire at the end of the race to move into fifth-place in the closing stages.
Sellers crossed under the checkered flag with the No. 17 in fifth-position. However, a post-race penalty assessed to a competitor would move the familiar blue and teal colors of Falken into fourth-place. The final position ranked the team as the highest-finishing Porsche for the day. It was Sellers best finish since winning the 2013 season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
With many of the drivers and teams of the TUDOR GTLM class traveling to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Sellers and his No. 17 Team Falken Tire teammates will now have to wait over a month before trying to maintain the momentum of the Monterey success. Fortunately, the next race, the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, is also held on a natural terrain course, this one in upstate New York. In 2013, Sellers won the SportsCar Challenge support race at "The Glen" adding to the anticipation of the June 29 race.
The stream of the full Monterey GP event can be found at IMSA.com.
On the Monterey Grand Prix: "All in all it was a pretty good weekend. We showed decent speed all weekend. I think we were able to learn a lot. We didn't have the outright pace we needed on cold tires but we had great longevity. We were able to battle back at the end of the stints. We were able to get a decent result for Falken and, hopefully, we'll be able to progress and get a podium sometime here in the near future."
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