If great change brings greater opportunity, then Bryan Sellers should have the greatest opportunity of his career at the 60th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR the Braselton, Ga.-race car driver will share with season-long teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) and endurance-race addition Martin Ragginger (Austria) at Sebring International Raceway is an all-new race version of the venerable German sports car. Falken Tire, of which Sellers has been a factory race and development driver for four seasons, has brought a new AZENIS racing slick to Florida and the March 17 season-opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón has new competition drawn from around the globe. All combined, the new elements provide the sort of game-changer moment that Sellers relishes.
In 2011, Sellers had his most successful sports car season to-date. Winning twice in the ALMS, taking fourth in the season-long GT driver point championship and third in the worldwide Porsche Cup competition highlighted the American young gun's breakout season. The former open-wheel racing champion hopes the developments for 2012 will provide even greater opportunity for success. Competing against 22-cars spread across the GT classes and 63 entries overall - including the debut of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) - Sebring will make every pass a significant accomplishment. Every new element of the program must perform flawlessly to take advantage of the opportunity presented.
The new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has undergone significant changes since the 2011 season-closing Petit Le Mans. The car - still based on the type 997 platform - has had wide-ranging bodywork alterations to allow for wider dimensions, flared rear wheel arches and front wheel arches which provide for wider diameter front tires. Improved aerodynamics gives better front stability while the enhanced airflow allows the four-liter, six-cylinder engine to produce 460 BHP. Sellers and Team Falken Tire have had four days of testing with the new car entering race week at Sebring. The new Falken AZENIS tire draws from the results of last year adding important developments done since. Coupled with the new car, the challenges to fine-tune both are significant but the rewards can be equally great.
Despite all the changes over the winter, several key elements remain as the bedrock that helped Sellers win twice (Mid-Ohio and Baltimore) in the ALMS last season. Team Falken Tire returns with the same driver line-up, engineering staff and management it enjoyed last season. The group showed well here on the 3.74-mile, 17-turn road course in 2011 running consistently in the top-three before a mechanical issue sidelined the team late in the 12 hours. Traditionalists will appreciate the corporate motorsports colors of Falken Tire remain the same for 2012 as well.
The 60th Anniversary 12 Hours of Sebring will be broadcast at noon March 18 on ABC and shown live starting at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on ESPN3. Live coverage of qualifying in all classes can be seen on ESPN3 beginning 3:20 p.m. Friday, March 16. Live timing and scoring of each session can be found at ALMS.com.
About the opportunity versus the challenge: "As a driver you always want the opportunity to be great. You relish the opportunities because they can be so few and far between. I would say the potential does overcome the concern for Team Falken Tire. There is a lot of opportunity with the new Porsche and the newly developed Falken tire. As always, I believe there will be teething problems to work through, however I think the car and tire combination will be strong."
About the importance of Sebring: "I feel like I have grown up at this race. It has been a race I have always wanted to compete in. I love the track and I love the atmosphere. There is no better feeling than getting to drive a race car. At Sebring, you get the opportunity to do that, and put on a show for people who love the sport as much as you do."
About mental and physical preparation for the 12 Hours of Sebring: "It's very difficult to prepare mentally for Sebring. It is one of those races that you have to just get in and do. It is a very physically demanding race and also very demanding on the crew and equipment. You prepare as much as you can but you try and step up when you are needed. One of the most difficult parts to the week is the actual duration of it all. It is very important to pace yourself through the week and make sure you are taking care of yourself and your guys as much as possible. It's our biggest event so the media demands are increased more than usual adding another factor to the event. That is one of the things that makes Sebring great though, the attention it draws!"
About what remains to be found in the new Porsche-Falken Tire combination: "There is a lot that remains to be found with the new Porsche 911 RSR and Falken tire! What we do know is that it is a completely different animal. We have a lot of work to do. I know the guys at Team Falken Tire will give us a great car when it's time for the race to start."