Hi everyone! My name is Bryan Sellers. I am new to Speedhunters but the team I drive for, Falken Tire, is not. Most of you may recognize Falken Tire from their extensive and dominating involvement in Drifting, many of you may also recognize then from their new involvement in the ALMS. I have been with Falken Tire for two years now beginning last year with a three-race schedule, Falken has since increased their involvement to a full time season, and started to change the game. I feel proud to be involved in the program and to see where we are progressing too.
Laguna Seca is the site for round three of the ALMS. Laguna has a special place in my heart, because it is where I won my first car race. Everything about Monterey is special from the track, to the fans, and the city.
As a tire development program and team, we had been very successful in the first two races qualifying on the front row and leading laps in both. We also knew that Laguna would provide the biggest challenge to date. We knew coming into the weekend that Laguna was a notoriously low grip racetrack and we had a small selection of tires to choose from.
After the first session, we unfortunately had a feeling that the weekend was going to be a little bit harder than we had even expected. We were quite a ways off the pace and knew we had some work to do.
Tire development is the key component to success. You must have a good car balance to make the most of the tire you are given.
So we set off to work, and got the guys started on making some improvements.
The Ferraris were the cars to chase all weekend, they set the benchmark pretty high for all of the other cars. We knew if we had any chance at a result it would eventually have to come by going around a Ferrari.
The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca has become a icon in US motor racing and a huge component in going fast at Laguna. Not only is it picturesque but it is also awesome to drive.
At the end of the first day we had made big improvements and had at least worked ourselves into the window of being competitive, we were finally starting to get a racecar under us.
On Friday night before the race, the track always hosts a press event where they bring drivers from multiple series and have fans come out and collect autograph cards and posters.
The crowd at the event was massive. The Falken girls were rolling posters and stuffing them in bags al nightlong.
The morning of the race it’s all about race prep, from all parties included. The morning starts with the guys practicing pit stops before the warm-up.
The morning warm-up did not go according to plan the gains we seemed to make over the course of the week were diminished and we were back to struggling for pace again.
During the warm-up, we had a couple of last minute tire combinations to run through and try and optimize our race setup. Fortunately, we found the best combination of tires we had all week.
After the warm-up we had to make sure the television coverage knew of our goals for the weekend and the progressions we had moved through.
The overall pace following the warm-up was down we only showed up 7th on the grid.
We had some last minute meetings in the trailer to see if we could improve the car. We sat and went through all the data and feedback available.
The final prep begins for the drivers and the crew. We had some time to sit and think about the race before we had to head to the grid.
It is such a long day to be sitting in your racing suit! So as soon as the warm-up was over it was time to relax and get ready.
One of the crew’s final preparations was to take the car through IMSA tech to make sure the ride heights and cambers are set properly.
On race day we got a chance to sit and talk with all the fans during the autograph session.
The American Le Mans series is far different from most race series in the world. The grid opens before the race and fans have full access to come up to all the cars that are on display.
Sitting on the grid, you start to run through all the events that could happen over the next couple of hours trying to play out every scenario in your head.
As I mentioned the grid is open to fans, it is great to have such avid and knowledgeable fans!
Unfortunately the strategy didn’t work out as planned. A few laps after we exited pit lane we were met by the leaders trying to put us a lap down.
Eventually, we went down a lap after fighting hard to keep the leaders behind the Ferraris were just too strong early in the race.
Shortly after my double stint began, it was clear that the only strategy left was to keep me in the car for another stint.
Through my three stints we were able to advance the car to seventh!
As Wolf got back into the car, the temperature outside began to cool significantly and we were hoping that it would play into our hands.
Laguna Seca was a huge step in our ALMS development and I am excited to see what Falken will have in store for us next!