Street Course Strength & Porsche Diet Look to Put Young Gun Back in Victory LaneAmerican Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) event winner Bryan Sellers is among those especially interested in getting onto the city streets of Baltimore's Inner Harbor September 3. The Braselton, GA-resident and the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR he shares with Wolf Henzler (Germany) have excelled on the ALMS' other temporary street course at Long Beach, CA the last two seasons and are confident that strength will play well on the East Coast as well. Saturday's two hour, 45-minute Baltimore Grand Prix is the seventh of nine races on the ALMS schedule and Sellers has finished in the top-six five times thus far, including his, the team's and the tires first career victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earlier this month. The Falken tire has proven especially strong on the street circuits - including the fourth-place in GT class at Long Beach in April - raising expectations for the weekend. The two-mile long, 12-turn, temporary street course is making its debut this weekend with the ALMS race. Built in Baltimore's spectacular Inner Harbor, the venue is among the best possible environments for a "city" race. Punctuated by the long, back-straightaway, a hairpin and a 90-degree corner, the Baltimore track promises to be a driving and setup up challenge. New circuits provide a unique opportunity in that no driver has ever driven the course before. Therefore, everyone is on even-footing from the start. The team which can unload the car the quickest will likely hold an advantage the remainder of the weekend making pre-race work critical. Adding to the anticipation of the Baltimore event for Sellers is a 15Kg (33lbs) weight reduction that International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) officials - the regulatory arm of the ALMS - have given to the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The RSR has been a strong performer against the four other marques which make-up the 13-car Grand Touring (GT) class. However, the weight reduction could allow the German make to move incrementally closer to the multi-time race-winning BMWs. The further equalization of the field should provide a stronger opportunity for Sellers to take advantage of Falken's strong street course compound though the true impact of the weight decrease is unknown.While the young American continues to impress with his racecraft in the heat of competition, it was his testing skill that was in greatest demand last week. Sellers departed for Japan the day following the most recent round of the championship to lead a private test session of the Falken race tire at the Sportsland Sugo circuit in Murata. It was the second time Sellers has tested at the Japanese facility. The objective of the test was to validate updates made in compound and construction of the Porsche-specific tire since the first test in June. Sellers' background in tire development and his smooth, consistent driving style have proven vital to the company since signing the former open-wheel racing champion to a factory contract in 2009. His analytical approach to testing has reaped great rewards for the company thus far including its first, international, GT victory in the ALMS at Mid-Ohio. The test, which split dry and wet track conditions, was very productive. While much of what was learned will not be utilized until 2012, some might make it into the Petit Le Mans tire. A planned third test will not be run due to scheduling conflicts.Quotes
About the challenges of going to an entirely new circuit: "Being at a brand new track with relatively little track time is a very difficult situation to be in. There is very little you can actually do to prepare for a new circuit like this. There is some studying that you can do, such as look at track maps and discuss some simulation runs; i.e. gearing with the engineers, but everything changes as soon as you go green for the first session. There is no way to tell grip levels of the circuit which make it nearly impossible to estimate braking points and cornering speeds."About the strength of the overall program at the street courses: "The Falken tire has been very good on street courses in the past and it seems to suit the Porsche very well. I think those two things combined put our expectations very high and give us many reasons to have a positive outlook for entering Baltimore. Although Baltimore and Long Beach appear to be very different circuits they are both street courses and will have some similarities."About the possible benefits of the weight reduction: "To be perfectly honest, I think that the 15kg won't do anything. When the weight was added we really saw no performance loss so I expect the same will remain true when it is removed. We will see little performance gain. With that being said, I hope it is a big gain and we see a lot of improvement at Baltimore."About the Falken Tire test in Japan: "The last test in Japan went very well. I would expect that we could see some of the tire testing we did applied to Petit Le Mans but no earlier than that. I would say the majority of the testing information will be used in preparing a tire for winter testing to start the 2012 season at Sebring in March."Live qualifying for the Baltimore Grand Prix will stream on ESPN3.com at 2:40 pm (ET), Friday, September 2. Full event coverage will air Sept. 3 beginning at 4:15 pm. ABC will broadcast a highlight show beginning at 4 pm, Sunday, Sept. 4. Live timing and scoring can be found at.AmericanLeMans.com.