Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Team Falken Tire and Porsche Part II: Fans Ask The Questions

Last month, Team Falken Tire gave American Le Mans Series fans an extensive look into the Porsche Motorsport North America operation.  We were given the incredible opportunity to visit with Jens Walther, the President of PMNA, and learn a variety of information about the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the Porsche Factory drivers and future development for consumer cars.

Twitter followers of @FalkenALMS were given the opportunity to send in their own questions for Jens, which he answers in Part II of our Porsche feature. 

Brian (@Thezinnmeister): Are there any future plans to use the GT3R’s hybrid technology in future cars in ALMS and FIA competition?

Jens, PMNA: The GT3R Hybrid for us is a laboratory car where we test new technology and new components. At the moment, we test a lot of components for a new sports car, the Porsche 918 Spyder. We take those components, test them in a racing environment and put them in a street car. In terms of future race cars, it’s difficult to say because we don’t know the regulations. Our cars are developed to the sets of regulations that the ACO and the FIA issue. If there is a GT environment where technology like the hybrid is competitive, we certainly will work on that. For us, it’s also important that whatever we do in motorsports is also relevant to the customer. 

Brian (@Thezinnmeister):  How much has the switch to the 4 liter engine made the RSR competitive again?

Jens, PMNA: If you increase the displacement of an engine, usually it comes with an increase in torque, and that obviously helps out of the corners. What we see is, our car is still the smallest engine in the field and the move from 3.8 to 4 liter was certainly a big step in that direction for us. From that point of view, it helped performance and torque. For the concept, there is not enough room for a bigger engine.

Meg (@foxytuner):  What’s the biggest challenge running at Mazda Raceway? I imagine it’s a huge change from Long Beach?

Jens, PMNA: The biggest challenge at Mazda Raceway for us is, it’s a nice mixture of a lot of corners and top speed. The challenge here is to find the balance of the car, to get enough down force for the corners and concentrate on the balance between the front and the rear tire.

Kevin, Falken: One of the big challenges for this track is the track temperatures. When it’s sunny out, it’s still kind of cool, but the sun heats the asphalt and gets some track temperatures. Then as soon as the sun starts to go down behind the hills, the track temperature just plummets. In a race like this, there is a green flag during the afternoon hours, the hottest part of the day, and then you’re ending just after dusk, when it’s much cooler. It’s a big challenge on how you balance the car set up to work with your daytime tire and nighttime tire you select. Combine that with the gusty winds here, and you’re dealing with dirt on the track frequently, which hurts the grip levels. All that makes it difficult to develop tires for this track. 

The Falken Tire Porsche at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

T. Marc (@TMarcJones): Can Porsche use any of the data from last year, or is everything new with the new car?

Jens, PMNA: You can use a lot of data from last year because the car was further developed, but some of the data is still invalid. Many of the variables have changed; the aero has changed, the tires have changed, so there will be an adjustment. Generally, you know a lot about the track, not only from last year, but over the years and all of the collective information. We already know that there is a challenge with the temperature of the track, the wind, the dust, and so all these things we can use as data. When it comes to the very technical data of the car, there is more data we can use from our tests in Weissach, Germany.

We changed some parts in the suspension area and with the down force. When we use the set up from last year, it’s not wrong, but we can make it better because now we have more aero and we need harder springs for that because the car rolling too much. 

T. Marc (@TMarcJones): Do you have anything cool planned for the Porsche fans at each race?

Jens, PMNA: We have specific/special activities going on and some races, but not at all. We try to organize Porsche corrals for most of the races at the American Le Mans Series so that our customers and our fans can meet there and enjoy the races in an environment which is pretty much branded by Porsche.

Dealers and Porsche Club regions organize a corral, and someone from Porsche will go and talk to the group, or a team will bring the drivers over. It’s something our fans, more than anyone else, really appreciate. Some of them have been coming back to races for 20 or 30 years and they really look forward to it.

Now with hospitality in ALMS, a fan can buy a hospitality ticket, through a dealership. So if you have more money than just for a ticket, we’ve started that as well, where through your Porsche dealer you can buy a ticket for you and your family. 

The Falken Tire ALMS Porsche on the Streets of Baltimore

Meg (@foxytuner): What do you think is the track that the Porsches run best at?

Jens, PMNA: Baltimore for us last year was a very good race, not only from a result standpoint, but from the event as a whole. Having so many people to see the race was a spectacular event for us. 

It is different tracks, different years and different drivers. We hope to be competitive at all the tracks. We’ve always done well at street races. That’s why Long Beach was such a disappointment this year and led to some of the new discussions. 

The car is one component, but it’s about the team, the drivers, and the tires. Those components all need to match together. The car is only one of these elements, and we don’t control that all the time. If everything works well, we can win a race. 

T. Marc (@TMarcJones): How does Porsche feel about the evolution of the 911 GT3 RSR, with the new wider tracks and aero/cooling changes?

Jens, PMNA: I think it’s the coolest looking car we’ve ever had.

     Team Falken Tire News
- Team Falken Tire and the Austin Hatcher Foundation held an auction on twitter on June 28th to use Falken Tire merchandise to raise $85  to benefit families with children suffering from pediatric cancer.
- The team races this week at Lime Rock Park in the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The race starts at 3:00PM on Saturday, July 7th.
Live coverage is available starting at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3. The television broadcast will be on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET.
- Thursday, July 5th, the team will hold a twitter photo caption contest. Fans can submit as many captions as possible, and at 5:00pm, Falken drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers will vote on their favorite caption. The winner and a friend will have lunch the following day at Lime Rock Park with the drivers. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/falkenalms. Fans must be attending the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix to win.
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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