LONG BEACH, CA – Fontana, CA-based Falken Tire, well regarded for its high performance tires, officially entered the 2009 American Le Mans Series’ highly competitive GT2 class by competing at Long Beach with its in-house-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The car was driven by veterans Dominic Cicero and Bryan Sellers and ran on specially prepared Falken AZENIS RT slicks.
Qualified in eighth position by Sellers, the Team Falken Tire RSR ran within a second of the race podium-winning #92 BMW car, a considerable accomplishment for a brand new team and tire that has never previously experienced the unforgiving Long Beach street course. The Porsche moved to seventh on the grid after the pole-winning car was sent to the rear for a ride height infraction. Sellers started the race, but reported shifting problems early on. He continued to nurse the car for 30 laps, maintaining his position of seventh, but eventually had to retire the Porsche. The team finished 20th overall and 12th in class.
“The car was extremely consistent for a long time,” Sellers said. “I was able to run a steady pace for the whole stint never dropping off more than four-tenths of a lap until we had transmission problems.” Co-driver Cicero agreed: “The tires were consistent and held up very well in our practices. We feel we have a great product for the 2010 season.”
“Despite our race difficulties, our drivers were very happy with the Falken Azenis RT slicks,” added Stephen Mitchell, Falken’s Motorsports Manager.
“The team worked very well together for being our first race. We’ve done a lot of testing, but this was a good experience under extreme pressure,” stated Rod Everett, Falken team manager. “We noticed vibration on very high speed during practice on Friday, and we pulled the transmission and examined it. It’s a shame that we finished where we did, but that’s racing. We’ll learn from this, move forward and do better next time.”
Long Beach also saw the debut of Falken’s new tire team booth with a constant flow of traffic to the Falken paddock Friday and Saturday. Falken awarded a specially designed Falken collectible guitar to Tom Crowe as part of its at-track promotional efforts.
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is painted in traditional Falken teal and blue livery, now highlighted by its new sponsor, Cleveland Golf of Huntington Beach, CA. Cleveland Golf, a force on the PGA tour, embraces many of the same product development ideologies which Falken Tire Corporation applies to their Azenis RT Slick tires used for ALMS competition.
“The American Le Mans is an excellent series and the perfect platform for Falken to demonstrate the strength and capabilities of our technology and capabilities,” noted Andrew Hoit, Director of Marketing, Falken Tire. “The competition this year is extremely tough, and we knew that going in, because we wanted to be able to challenge the factory teams as well as the privateers and our competitors, the other tire manufacturers. We’re running a shorter season this year, in preparation for a full assault in 2010.”
The Falken Tire/Cleveland Golf team will next compete at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in September.
Track title: Ownage
License Type: Mass Market License
Composer: Dimitris Plagiannis (AEPI)
Publisher:Dimitris Plagiannis (AEPI)