After months of speculation, Falken Tire has announced plans to continue competition in American sports car racing in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The GT team will compete in 10 of the 11 races open to the GTLM class of the 2014 calendar with the exception of the season opening race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Previously running 2008, 2010 and 2012 versions of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Team Falken Tire will upgrade to the new 2014 Porsche 911 RSR, which is based off of the newest-generation 911 street car. The team was given the opportunity to test privately before Petit Le Mans. Among a field of factory based-teams, the Falken team will be one of few privateer teams in the GTLM class.
Team Falken Tire finished out the 2013 season victorious, running formally retired 2010 Porsche to beat out the factory teams after 1,000 miles of racing to claim the final American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans win. Team manager Derrick Walker will return to reprise his role, utilizing his Indianapolis-based shop to oversee the day-to-day operations of the race team with his Walker Racing crew. Falken Tire veterans Bryan Sellers and Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler will return as the drivers for the No. 17 Porsche.
“To go out in the last ALMS race on top, it was a great victory for Falken Tire. They worked so hard to get this victory. It’s great to see Falken continuing on into the United SportsCar Series,” said Walker. “The commitment they’ve given to racing has been amazing. They’re a very determined company to produce quality tires in the toughest environment.
“This news is great for racing. When you look at the new 911, it’s a bigger step from the current car in terms of optimizing what it needs for a very competitive GT series. It will have all the things every racer needs: more downforce, lighter, more power, more grip, more mechanical grip. Porsche is continuing to make a serious commitment to GT racing and I couldn’t be happier.”
Falken veteran Sellers added, “I am very excited and honored to be returning with Falken Tire, especially after a victory like the final Petit Le Mans. After all the work, it was truly breathtaking. It’s very important I have continuity in a program and I am glad Wolf and Derrick will be returning as part of the program as well. I am very hopeful for the future of our program.”
“Porsche has enjoyed a long relationship with Falken Tire in both the United States and in Europe,” noted Jens Walther, president and CEO, Porsche Motorsports North America. “In the States, 2014 will mark our sixth year working together. It has been a great partnership and Falken Tire has made a strong commitment as the only customer Porsche 911 RSR program in the USA for 2014. Manufacturers will drive the GT Le Mans class in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship but, over the years, Team Falken Tire has proven themselves more than capable of racing with and winning against works efforts in a very competitive and balanced class. Their addition to our own two-car 911 RSR factory program will positively benefit all involved.”