Falken Factory Driver Knows COTA and the Challenges Awaiting the ALMS
AUSTIN, Texas, September 16, 2013 - The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is long, 3.4-miles, and complicated, 20-turns. For many of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patrón drivers, this will be their first taste of the newest road course in the United States. But, this isn't the first rodeo at the Austin, Texas-track for Bryan Sellers. The Braselton, Ga.-resident nearly pulled off a late race podium spot with Fall-Line Motorsports in the GRAND-AM Sports Car Challenge Series earlier this year. While that will give Sellers a leg up on some of the competition, it also puts into clear focus the challenges he and teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) will face in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The two-hour, 45-minute International Sports Car Weekend ALMS race is scheduled for Saturday, September 21.
Adding to the challenge of racing at a brand new track is that Sellers and Henzler will be driving a completely different Porsche 911 GT3 RSR than the car they qualified at the most recent round in Baltimore. There, before ever reaching the starting line, Henzler was caught up in a massive pileup that eliminated the No. 17 and several other cars. The team determined the car, which took hits to both the front and the rear, was damaged beyond repair. With a short turn-around time, the team pulled the 2010 Porsche 911 out of mothballs and began to retrofit it with current RSR parts. The 2010 car was a real performer capturing Sellers' first two ALMS GT class victories in 2011 (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Baltimore Grand Prix). However, improvements entering the 2012 season made the car obsolete and it was replaced by the newer, 2012 iteration of the 911 GT3 RSR. Working with IMSA, the official sanctioning body of the ALMS, the team has created a "new" car off the older chassis. What the three-time ALMS race winning program will find as the car powers uphill to COTA's signature Turn One will likely tell the tale of the weekend.
Sellers will have his first taste of the upgraded 2010 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on Tuesday, September 17 when a promoter test day is held at the track. A second test session will take place on Thursday. Two official practice sessions will run on Thursday and Friday with qualifying for GT class getting underway at 2:10 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) on Friday. A final warm-up will run on Saturday morning.
Live coverage of qualifying of all ALMS classes can be found at the Series' web site and ESPN3 on Friday, September 20 at 2:50 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3 beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday, September 21 while ESPN2 will provide delayed television coverage at 1 p.m. EDT, Sunday, September 22. Full international coverage, as well as live in-car camera footage, will be available real time at www.ALMS.com. Live timing and scoring of all sessions, including qualifying and the race, are also found on the Series' official web site.
On benefits of having raced at COTA before: "Unfortunately, I think most of the teams in GT have tested at COTA for one or two days. So, the advantage I would have had in knowing the track will be null and void. If there will be any advantage at all it will be in knowing how the track races in traffic as well as in my own class. It is a very interesting track in race conditions, and that may lean in my favor a little bit. ALMS GT is some of the best racing in the world, with some of the best drivers in the world, it will not take any of them very long to catch on."
On his expectations of the Team Falken Tire Porsche after the repairs: "I expect that the Team Falken Tire Porsche we run at COTA will have something in-between both cars. There is certainly an advantage to the wide body car with the stability and the overall lateral grip that will not be available to us in the old generation car. The team worked hard as always and the Falken car will be in the best race condition it could possibly be in. I have a lot of faith that we can, and will, be strong but the proof comes when the green flag drops."
On his favorite turn at COTA: "Turn One is my favorite corner. I really like the elevation heading into it. It is very steep in the brake zone which allows you to brake extremely late and should offer a great passing zone. The toughest part of the track is the fast transitional 'esses'. It is very important to get the timing right through that section. If you get it wrong it will affect the rest of your lap negatively. It is a long lap and you can't leave anything on the table or it will compound itself."