SWEET RECIPE: BRYAN SELLERS, FALKEN TIRE, PORSCHE & ALMS AT LONG BEACH In 2009, Bryan Sellers got his first taste of the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the city streets of Long Beach, Calif. The Braselton, Ga.-resident immediately recognized the sweet recipe he had in his hands. That debut was the first in a three-race shortened season for Falken Tire's own American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) race program but the taste left at the end of the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach was inspiring. Since that day, Sellers has won twice in the ALMS (Mid-Ohio and Baltimore) with Team Falken Tire and co-driver Wolf Henzler (Germany). However, nowhere is the unique blend of American racing star and German sports car on Japanese tires quite as tempting as it is on the Cali street course. The successful combination returns to Southern California Saturday, April 14 to try again to reap its just desserts.As is always the case at Long Beach, track time becomes the critical element. The ALMS cars will be restricted to a single two hour practice session on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course prior to Friday afternoon's 15-minute qualifying session for GT cars. No warm-up will be held on race day. An advantage to their four years together as co-drivers, Sellers and Henzler can adapt well to the compromised car setup demanded by the multi-driver format of sports car racing. Nonetheless, splitting driving time between the two - and with only time for one driver to make laps during the qualifying session - means one driver will turn laps during the race with a car setup he has not tried before. Adding to the Hollywood-style drama is no one has driven the newly configured Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on a street course before. Having a strong past history at the track as well as a traditionally strong street course tire should benefit Sellers but what is learned in the first session will likely define the weekend. The Grand Prix of Long Beach - the longest running major street race weekend in North America - plays host to the second round of the 2012 ALMS race season. With a history dating to 1975 and an ALMS tradition to 2007, the event's importance to drivers, teams, manufacturers and fans exceeds its place on the schedule. For Sellers, who has raced here in both sports cars and open wheel race cars, the event holds a special place. Like the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans, an ALMS at Long Beach victory is a hallmark moment he would relish long after his career. The Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will be broadcast live, April 14 on ESPN2 starting at 7:30 p.m. (ET). Live streaming can also be seen on ESPN3 beginning at 7:15 p.m. Live coverage of qualifying in all classes will be available on ESPN3 opening with GTC class at 8 p.m. Friday, April 13. Live timing and scoring of the sole practice (10:15 a.m., Friday) as well as qualifying and the race can be found at www.ALMS.com. Quotes
On the Grand Prix of Long Beach: "Long Beach is a very special event. It's a place you grow up wanting to win at. It was my first race with Team Falken Tire in 2009 and we have always been pretty good here. I think we will be strong again this weekend. It is going to be a learning process the whole way through with the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR but I think we are starting with a good platform. That first session on Friday is so critical. We get so little track time at Long Beach, if you can start that session strong it bodes well for a good weekend.
The shorter race length, just two hours, doesn't really affect how a driver goes about the race. We have to be on full-attack at every race, every stint, every lap. The American Le Mans Series is so tight it doesn't allow for any mistakes or any time to let down no matter if it is a two-hour or twelve-hour race."On Team Falken Tire's Street Course "Magic": "As a program we have been strong at street courses and I am hoping that this year is no different for Team Falken Tire. Falken has always given us a great tire for the street circuits and that makes a huge difference. It is a very tough weekend with very limited track time so rolling off the trailer with a good car seems to be most of the 'magic' we have here. The guys work hard at the shop so we're really close from the start. You don't have time to make too drastic of changes so being good early usually means you're good at the end of the weekend."On being a "favorite" at Long Beach: "I don't think there are ever any 'favorites' in ALMS. The level of competition is so high that anyone can win on any given weekend. Our win in Baltimore may mean we are slightly more prepared for an event such as this, compared to other tracks, but I wouldn't say we can be considered a favorite any more than any other team."On using what was learned at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring: "There is always plenty to learn and apply from previous events. There may not be a lot of crossover as far as the exact setup between Sebring and Long Beach, but we have learned trends and differences about the new car. Every session, no matter what kind of track, we will build on that for the next race."