Falken Tire Factory Driver Spurs TUDOR Season-Finale Victory in Porsche
For the second-consecutive year, Braselton, Georgia's-own Bryan Sellers hoisted the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory trophy for the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta. With the track less than five minutes from his home, it is easy to understand why the driver of the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR knows the way to the classic sports car racing venue so well, but his uncanny knack for finding the top-step of the victory roster impresses even the most jaded follower of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Just as it was in 2013, the win in the most competitive GT racing class in world came at the last race of the season for Sellers and teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) - who were joined by Marco Holzer (Germany) this weekend. The season-long fight to take a victory for the only privately entered Porsche 911 RSR in North America was spurred by several inspired drives by Sellers during the 10-hour race.
Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR carrying the "1" on the electronic position board at Road Atlanta. Image by PCNAAfter qualifying third on Friday, Sellers wasted little time asserting himself when the green flag waved on Saturday morning. He quickly moved the Porsche up to second and began to push the pole position-winning factory 911 RSR. Even after a brief moment falling back to third, the six-year veteran of the Falken program made a decisive move on a restart on the downhill final turn at Road Atlanta to lay claim as a serious challenger for the 17th Annual Petit Le Mans GTLM trophy. Sellers handed over the driving duties of the pristine teal and blue Porsche to Henzler who held position near the front of the field before himself relinquishing the ride to Holzer. When the car came back to Sellers near the race's midpoint, he proved his mettle by turning a lap time good enough to hold the GTLM fastest race lap honors for most of the day. It wasn't until late in the event when Henzler narrowly nipped his longtime teammate for fastest race lap.
As Sellers, Henzler and Holzer rotated the No. 17 for ten-hours, they remained steadfast at the front. The trio ran a faultless race and the Team Falken Tire crew mimicked that in pit lane. Sellers held the lead entering the race's final hour and gave the car to Henzler with less than an hour to go. Henzler fought off several attempts by fellow Porsche factory driver Michael Christensen (Denmark) in the closing minutes while the Dane defended against the Dodge Viper SRT behind him. It all became more interesting when a caution flew with 20-minutes to go, packing the field. Only last year's stunning final moments equaled the six-minute race to the checkered flag when it went green again. Ultimately, the No. 17 crossed the finish line just ahead of the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR entered by the factory and the factory-entered Viper.
In addition to securing Sellers his fifth major sports car victory, all with Team Falken Tire, the win also helped propel Porsche to the GTLM Manufacturer title. Also, by leading at the race's eight-hour mark, the points awarded for that allowed Porsche to clinch manufacturer honors in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Championship.
On his second-consecutive Petit Le Mans victory: "We were starting to think that our consecutive season win-streak was going to come to an end. We did know that the Team Falken Tire Porsche would be strong at Road Atlanta and that we would have an opportunity to compete for the win. I think everyone was motivated above and beyond even our normal amount because it is such an important race to all of us. After tasting victory last year no one wanted to leave with out a win.
We have had a great run over the past few years, and all the victories have been done as a team. That means Falken Tire, Walker Racing, Porsche and the drivers. Everyone plays their part! It means a lot to me to be in a program like Falken, and in a program that is so supported by Porsche."
On winning on his home track: "The win was amazing! It is particularly special because I was able to share it with all my friends and family here in Braselton. There is something special about winning the race but something even more special about being able to share it."
On the importance on the opening stint: "It was completely necessary for us to put in a really strong opening stint. The factory Porsche 911 RSRs are our benchmark. We needed to set the tone for us that we could hang with them. It was difficult with the traffic to stay close to Tandy, although he was able to open a little bit of a gap with the PC traffic early in the stint, but we were able to match pace shortly after."
On the battle for fastest race lap with teammate Wolf Henzler: "The team was giving me grief that Wolf was coming after my fastest lap and he did get it by .004-seconds. My answer to the team was I am happy if he beats my lap because we were very fast during my stint and if he could go faster that the win would be ours."
On the Falken Tire: "The Falken tire was great all day. It was fast. It was reliable and it was durable. It was exactly what the Falken engineers designed the tire to be. My hat's off to everyone in Japan and here in the States who worked on getting us such a great tire for Road Atlanta. The testing we did here was crucial. We have spent a lot of time at Road Atlanta and built a great tire for the track. Without the testing I am certain the victory would have been much more difficult."