Although the Polar Vortex has left most of the United States in the deep freeze this winter, driver Bryan Sellers has felt the cold even more as he was forced to watch his friends race their 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship cars in the series-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona while he was at his home in Braselton, Ga. awaiting the arrival of his newest ride. Now, the only non-Porsche factory driver to get an opportunity to race the German marque's newest and already race-proven decedent of the 911 racing line, the only privately-owned Porsche 911 RSR in the TUDOR series, will finally travel to the warmth of Florida to test in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire machine at Sebring International Raceway on Feb. 20 and 21.
"As a driver, when you roll out a new car, you have to approach things a little differently," Sellers added. "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."
Sellers, who signed for a sixth consecutive season as a Falken Tire factory driver last November, joins Porsche factory driver and full-season teammate Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany), also a Porsche works driver, 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 Mar. 15, a full race later than most of the competition.
"This has been a difficult off-season. With Falken purchasing a new Porsche 911 RSR and it being built early in 2014, it has been difficult to sit and wait," stated Sellers. "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!"
Due to the construction schedule at Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, Germany, the team's 2014 Porsche 911 RSR was not available in time for the Feb. 25-26 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The German sports car manufacturer continued to work on what is currently the only privately entered 911 RSR while the Porsche North America factory program went on to victory in America's premier 24 hour race. Team technicians traveled to Germany for the car's final preparations before taking North American delivery just before departing for the test here this week.
"For this to be a successful test for the team, we have to be able to run through all of our testing criteria," commented Sellers. "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."
The success of the RSR - which includes finishing first and second in its inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans last June, bodes well for the future of the third 911 RSR on this continent. However, the task will be a challenge as Sellers and team work to learn a car new to them while also matching the Falken race tire to it. Henzler turned a limited numbers of laps evaluating the previous iteration of tire on a Porsche test car late last year. The two days of Sebring testing will help compare the program in real time to its competition but is primarily being used as a familiarization session for drivers and crew. 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. However, Sellers has excelled at Sebring in the past and added a podium finish on the 3.74-mile, 17-turn course to his resume in 2013.
"I actually have not heard much about the new 911 RSR from guys who have driven it," Sellers lamented. "In some ways not knowing makes it more exciting. 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."
There will be four test sessions for the TUDOR Championship at Sebring beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. The session will end at Noon. A second session will take the green flag at 2:45 p.m. and run until 5 p.m. the same day. A third and fourth session will mimic the schedule on Friday. Visit IMSA.com for timing and scoring.
"It will absolutely be a challenge to make up the ground we have lost," Sellers concluded. "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."
On the extended off-season:
Bryan Sellers. Image by Wes Duenkel
On his approach for the Sebring test:
On what will define a successful test at Sebring:
On his expectations for the new Porsche 911 RSR:
On 'catching up' to the competition after missing early season testing and racing:
On what he did to prepare for 2014 without being able to drive a racecar: "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!"
For more on Bryan Sellers, please visit him on the web at . Follow Bryan on Twitter () and LIKE him on Facebook at:. Tune-in to Bryan's YouTube channel at.
Visit for more on Team Falken Tire.
Learn more about the TUDOR SportsCar Championship, please visit www.IMSA.com.
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