Fontana, CA-based Falken Tire officially entered the highly competitive GT2 class of the 2009 American Le Mans Series' by competing at Long Beach with its in-house Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The car was driven by veterans Dominic Cicero and Bryan Sellers and ran on specially prepared Falken Azenis RT slicks.
Qualifying in eighth position, the Team Falken Tire RSR ran within a second of the race podium-winning #92 BMW M#, a considerable accomplishment for a brand new team and tire that has never previously experienced the unforgiving Long Beach street course.
The Porsche moved to seventh on the grid after the pole-winning car was sent to the rear for a ride height infraction. Sellers started the race, but reported shifting problems early on. He continued to nurse the car for 30 laps, maintaining his seventh position, but eventually had to retire. The team finished 20th overall and 12th in class.
"The car was extremely consistent for a long time," Sellers said. "I was able to run a steady pace for the whole stint, never dropping off more than four-tenths of a lap until we had transmission problems." Co-driver Cicero agreed: "The tires were consistent and held up very well in our practices. We feel we have a great product for the 2010 season."
Long Beach also saw the debut of Falken's new tire team booth with a constant flow of traffic to the Falken paddock Friday and Saturday. Falken awarded a specially designed Falken collectible guitar to Tom Crowe as part of its promotional efforts.
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR is painted in traditional Falken teal and blue livery, now highlighted by its new sponsor, Cleveland Golf of Huntington Beach, CA. Cleveland Golf, a force on the PGA tour, embraces many of the same product development ideologies which Falken Tire Corporation applies to their Azenis RT Slick tires used for ALMS competition.The Falken Tire/Cleveland Golf team will next compete at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in September.