FOR FIRST TIME SINCE WIN
Nearly four weeks have passed since the last American Le Mans Series race event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Team Falken Tire has been pushing forward with little time for rest. Last month, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR completed a two day test at Road Atlanta, dedicating the time to overall balance and tire development. This week, the blue and teal race car brought the team to Mid-Ohio, where last August, drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers hard charged through torrential downpour to earn the team its first win.
Although happy to return to the track of the team's first of two wins in 2011, Falken driver Bryan Sellers and the team focused on the task at hand: testing. "When you first drive in, you remember what a fun weekend that was, but our main focus is winning that race again," said Sellers. "It's straight down to business and laying the foundation of the next win."
The 15-turn 2.4 mile road course hosted ideal track conditions during the two day test, allowing the team to test numerous tire compounds and constructions. Program Manager Derrick Walker described Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as a track that demands ultimate performance from the tires, including good handling and tire grip, and for more than just one lap. "Everything has to hang together and stay together here. There's a lot of wear and tear on the tire with every lap and grip surface."
"We tried so many new constructions and compounds, and had some pretty good results," said Derrick Walker. The construction of the tire for the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR needs to be strong but yet flexible to deal with all different types of turns and shifts in weight of the sports car. The compound of the tire refers to the outer construction: the levels of grip and how the tire while still holding together over the different track surfaces and changes in temperatures at Midi Ohio. Some of these new tire designs may well appear as early as Round 4 at Lime Rock Park and others will be used later in the season.
Currently competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, co-driver Wolf Henzler was unable to attend the test, but Sellers was joined by German racer Martin Ragginger, who ran as the third driver with Sellers and Porsche Factory driver Wolf Henzler. "We drafted Martin in because we specifically had so much to do," said Walker. "Getting both drivers here was necessary, and it was certainly worth having him here."
The GT team now looks ahead to Round Four at Lime Rock Park, nestled in the hills of Northwest Connecticut. The team will give the Porsche a proper front to back rebuild and even put on a fresh layer of paint, making the car as good as new. "The second half of our season will be a big run to Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta," said Walker. "The car has been doing a lot of testing since last on a race track, and it's time to do an engine rebuild and have it ready to go for Lime Rock Park." Round 4, the American Le Mans Northwest Grand Prix will take place July 6-7.