Team Falken Tire Testing Duties Pull American Driver from Upcoming Race

Bryan Sellers has been a lead on tire development for Falken Tire’s sports car program since 2009. In that time, the Falken factory driver has helped advance tire compound and construction techniques for the Japanese-based manufacturer in his role as a Team Falken Tire driver in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS). Now those development skills and experience are calling the Braselton, GA-resident to Japan. Sellers will drive in three, on-track testing sessions in Asia as part of a major tire development campaign by the growing tire company. The first test will take place this week.

By testing in Japan, the information compiled, including analysis of the tires themselves, will allow Falken Tire engineers to more quickly design and build improved variants for future use. Because not only tire size but also the chemical construction and building techniques can greatly impact the performance of different cars, the former open-wheel champion will drive an ACO-specification Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the test. The development “mule” is similar to the No.17 Team Falken Tire entry he competes with in the ALMS. The test is intended to benefit not only the tire for the Porsche Sellers races in North America but also all international series employing the GT/GTE class Porsche.

Falken Tire has utilized the “Le Mans Break” – the hiatus in the North American competition schedule to allow interested teams to participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – with great effectiveness. Since the ALMS ran its second, and most recent, event of the nine-race season at Long Beach, CA in April, Sellers has tested the blue and teal, No.17 Porsche four times. The primary focus of these test sessions at Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Lexington, OH) has been to expand the knowledge of the current tire while also examining compounds and construction techniques on the same tracks the car will compete on later this season. The information Sellers and teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) have compiled has gone back to engineers in Japan for analysis. In turn, much of what was learned in the United States will now be applied to the Falken Tires Sellers will test in the three, Asian tests.

Sellers will return to America in time to re-start the ALMS season with the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT, July 9. Sellers and Henzler are coming-off the program’s career best, ALMS finish of fourth at the American Le Mans Series At Long Beach.

Bryan Sellers:
About being called to headquarters for this assignment of developing the Falken Tire: “It’s a special honor to be requested by Japan to test the tires there. The tests in Japan certainly show an increased commitment by Falken. All of the other tire companies that we are competing against are great tire manufacturers. They are not sleeping which means we need to be working as hard as possible to try and catch up. Falken is taking every step that can feasibly be taken and we’re seeing the results of that commitment. I have never been to Japan but I am looking forward to learning the culture of the company and the country.”

About the progress of the Falken Tire racing tire: “I feel like we have made great progress with the tires to this point. However, the races we are coming up on were our weak point in the schedule last year. It will be hard to judge our progress until we are done with the next stretch of races. We have certainly taken steps in the right direction but we are all aware of the work and dedication needed to move forward.”

About the benefits of testing in Japan versus a continued testing program only in the U.S.: “By testing in Japan it should allow us a much quicker turnaround on tires. The shipping time it takes to get the tires from Japan to the U.S. is one of largest logistical problems. By testing in Japan, it cuts roughly a month out of the time needed to get the tires to the States.”

About the elements a driver must bring to tire testing: “In tire testing it is very important to be consistent but also to always be on the limit. There is no possible way to know how a tire will react unless you push it to its max at all times. As a driver you often want to fix the car to fit your style of driving. However, in tire testing it means nothing so you have to learn to focus on tire changes alone.”

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