20 February 2014
Sellers returns to USCC action at Sebring
Having missed the Daytona 24 Hours, Porsche factory driver Bryan Sellers cannot wait to get into the action at Sebring.
Having been forced to watch friends and rivals racing at the opening round of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship cars in Daytona, Bryan Sellers will finally get an opportunity to race Porsche's newest – but already race-proven - decedent of the 911.
The American is due to test the #17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR at Sebring from today [20 February] as the American Le Mans Series-winning team rolls out the new car during the TUDOR Championships GT Le Mans class testing in Florida.
Sellers, who signed for a sixth consecutive season as a Falken Tire factory driver last November, joins fellow factory driver and full-season team-mate Wolf Henzler and a second German, Marco Holzer, for the two-day shakedown. The trio will return to race in the 62nd Running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on 15 March.
"This has been a difficult off-season,” Sellers admitted, “With Falken purchasing a new Porsche 911 RSR and it being built early in 2014, it has been difficult to sit and wait. Porsche has shown great success thus far with the RSR and it really has all of us itching to get started again. After winning Petit Le Mans to close last year, sitting and watching Daytona was quite possibly one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It will be great to get into the new car and put all of that behind us!
“It's nearly impossible to mimic driving when you are out of the car. Nothing can prepare your fitness levels quite like driving. I have, however, been able to spend a lot of time in the gym trying to prepare. I have had three months off which hasn't happened in quite some time so I am in the best shape I have been in for quite a while. I am ready!"
Starting one race later than the competition - due to the construction schedule at Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, the team's 2014 Porsche 911 RSR was not available in time for Daytona, but the German marque continued to work on what is currently the only privately-entered 911 RSR while the Porsche North America factory programme secured victory in America's premier 24-hour race.
Team technicians travelled to Germany for the car's final preparations before taking North American delivery just before departing for the test this week. However, Sellers and the team now need to work to learn a car new to them while also matching the Falken race tyre to it. Henzler turned a limited numbers of laps evaluating the previous iteration of tyre on a Porsche test car late last year and, while the two days at Sebring will help compare the programme in real time to its competition, it is primarily being used as a familiarisation session for drivers and crew.
"As a driver, when you roll out a new car, you have to approach things a little differently,” he noted, “You have to really look at all aspects of the car and be prepared to learn them as well as look at the things that you can possibly improve on for the future. However, taking delivery of this new car from Porsche you expect nothing but the best because it's how they run their company and how they operate! There will be challenges, but this is a Porsche, you know a lot of the things you'd expect to go wrong with any other brand, just won't happen with a Porsche.
"For this to be a successful test for the team, we have to be able to run through all of our testing criteria. We will obviously like to show some speed, but more importantly, it will be our only test before the race so we have to check off all of our boxes because we will not have another chance at it until race week."
Sellers' first time behind the wheel of the unfamiliar car will be the first time any driver not directly employed by Porsche will have ever turned a lap in the 911 RSR.
"I actually have not heard much about the new 911 RSR from guys who have driven it and, in some ways, not knowing makes it more exciting,” he admitted, “It's the difference in knowing what a present is before you get it and just hoping and guessing what it is. I love getting the opportunity to drive a new car for the first time. The learning of all the new systems and the way the car reacts, that appeals to me as a driver."
"It will absolutely be a challenge to make up the ground we have lost. All of our competitors will be hitting the ground running and we are just getting started. We have, in my opinion, the best guys in the business at Team Falken Tire and we will all dig in and we'll hit the ground running too. We want to make sure we don't lose anything in the grind.”
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