Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Round 5 Behind the Scenes: Falken Tire Earns Best Finish at Mosport

In the American Le Mans Series, you never know how a race weekend will play out. According to Falken driver Bryan Sellers, if you told him before the race weekend that Team Falken Tire was going to finish fourth in Round 5 at Canadian Motorsport Park (formally known as Mosport), he would have gladly taken that position. After a difficult test, practice and qualifying session, the team was struggling to feel optimistic looking ahead to the race. However, the Azenis RT slick tires combined with incredibly fast pit stops, a great strategy and stellar driving, the Falken 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR finished fifth. A failed tech inspection for the winning car in the GT class brought the Falken Porsche up to fourth. 

Here’s a behind the scenes look into the race weekend that brought Falken Tire its best finish so far in the 2012 season. 

 Team Manager Phil Howard and Program Manager Derrick Walker do a weekend run-down with the crew upon arriving at the track. Especially in motorsports, communication is key to running a successful team.

The Falken crew unloads the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. A six-cylinder boxer engine never looked so good!

Bryan signs autographs for young Falken Tire fans: Within just hours of being at the track, a group of young fans stopped by to meet Wolf and Bryan and see the #17 Porsche up close. It was difficult to tell who was more excited: the kids or the drivers. At Round 2 at Long Beach, Wolf and Bryan spoke to a group of children about the life of a race car driver, and took time to answer questions and were even disappointed when it wrapped up ten minutes later.   Needless to say, the Falken drivers enjoy speaking with their young fans.

Known amongst the paddock and especially the Falken crew as pranksters, Wolf and Bryan arrived at the track to find someone gave them the taste of their own medicine by decorating the duo’s lockers. Despite the pressure to perform and the constant flow of meetings, interviews and on-track sessions, Wolf and Bryan have no problem making sure they still enjoy the experience of a race weekend. 

A few weeks before the event, FalkenALMS twitter follower @85_froggy tweeted us a picture of an art piece he did featuring the new Porsche.  We invited him to come to our rig to see for ourselves and get it signed. Froggy asked the whole crew to autograph the piece, and later posed for a picture with Bryan and Wolf. Great job, Froggy! You make our stick figures look pretty bad…

Bryan speaking with the TV crew about the importance of each piece of gear that a race car driver has to wear when in the car. Certainly not your typical Sunday dress!

Mike and Renee were the winners for the fan lunch at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park! Mike answered the trivia question on twitter the previous day and got to spend an hour with the drivers. Not only did they discuss the team, tires and car over lunch, but Mike was amazed at the level of interest the drivers had in their fans and how down to earth they were.  The super fan duo stopped by several times during the weekend to show their support—thanks guys!

The Porsche with the well-known Falken Tire livery in pit lane waiting to rejoin the field for the test session. The team was the second highest Porsche for the session and finished 8th in the GT class.

What’s a great perk to having a race car driver from Germany? The chocolate he brings to the track! In the past, Wolf has also brought chocolate to the children at local hospitals he has visited with the Austin Hatcher Foundation. 

Wolf and Bryan debrief with Program Manager Derrick Walker and Engineer John Ward following a practice session on track at Mosport. These sessions are critical to developing the tires and car set up, and must be done after every session. 

Despite their busy schedule, both Bryan and Wolf made time to visit the PorschePlatz to speak with the members of the Porsche Club of America. The PCA members are always very knowledgeable and are full of questions for the drivers. Due to time constraints, someone usually has to rip the microphone out of Bryan and Wolf’s hands.

Looking for the door? The door handle of the #17 Porsche is clearly labeled in the event that corner workers or safety crews will need to get in the car in a hurry. The three lights along the edge of the door are the leaderboard lights.  With so many cars and so many classes, it can be challenging for spectators to identity who is in the lead.  The leader lights on ALMS cars are different colors for each class and help fans pinpoint the top three cars in each class by how many lights are lit on the panel. 

The Falken Tire Azenis RT Slick tire that makes it all happen! 

Falken Girl Brittney signs posters and gives away swag to eager race fans before the race. 

The Falken Porsche on grid, starting 8th, ready to go! 

So many fans stopped by on the grid to see the car and get their photos taken with the Falken drivers before the race. Very few race series allow fans to get so close to the cars and drivers. At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the grid was absolutely packed with fans of all ages!

With just a few minutes before everyone else had to clear the grid, Wolf and Bryan spent the final moments intensely focused, blocking out all distractions. 

The Falken crew makes up a spot in another speedy pit stop. If you look closely, they were even moving too fast for the camera! All weekend, the team set aside time to practice their stops, and it paid off, bringing the car home to 4th in the GT class. 

After the race, Bryan made a beeline to downtown Toronto for a TV interview on AutoShop on CP24. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t let us post any pictures of him in hair and makeup. Maybe next time! Click
here to view Bryan’s interview!

Here are the fan photos from the event. Thanks for your submissions!

From Jonathan (@jonathanjbrooks), here's the Falken Tire Porsche and Falken girl Brittney on the ALMS Mosport Grid.

From Steve (@Scanman73), the Falken Porsche comes in for a pit stop

From Froggy (@85_froggy), the Porsche roars through turn four.

And lastly, from Mike (@MikeyP155), here's the #17 Porsche and the Falken Azenis R1 Slicks in the ALMS paddock. 

Next up, the Falken team travels to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 2-4 for Round 6 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. Live steaming will begin August 4th at 12:45 EDT. The TV broadcast begins at 2:00pm EDT on ABC.

Falken Tire News:
-         - Miss the Falken Tire teaser video from Round 4 at Lime Rock Park? Here it is! http://bit.ly/MpXpY7
- Team Falken Tire helped raise $115 for the Austin Hatcher Foundation with another live twitter auction Wednesday, August 26. Twitter user Anthony (@atflorio) was the highest bidder of this limited edition art piece by Jim Swintal portraying Falken Tire’s first ALMS win in the rain at Mid-Ohio, also signed by Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers. Follow @FalkenALMS for your chance to win special Falken items and raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation.
-       - Falken Tire ALMS merchandise is available on alms.com! Click here to stock up on your swag to support your favorite team!
- Falken Tire is giving away a Porsche 911 Carrera!  Fans can have their chance at winning by clicking ‘Like’ Falken Tire on Facebook to enter by October 21, 2012 at www.facebook.com/falkentire.

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