While many teams and drivers use the off season to rest up for 2013, the group at Team Falken Tire has been hard at work preparing for the future. Since checkered flag waved at Petit Le Mans in October, Falken Tire has been busy applying the 2012 season data to the development of the 2013 tires.
Last month, Team Manager Derrick Walker and Falken Tire drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler journeyed with the staff of Falken Tire to Japan to visit Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), where the race winning tires used in the American Le Mans Series are developed, created and tested. In Nagoya, Japan, the group went on a Motorsports Factory tour at the SRI facility where not only did the team get to meet the group of individuals that created the tires, but they also had the opportunity to sit down for a question and answer session to learn more about past and future developments.
“All of the people at SRI were very friendly and welcomed us warmly,” said Wolf. “They tried to answer all our questions as we discussed the plan for next year. I was surprised to see how they have already applied the data from our last race at Petit Le Mans. They did a lot of data analyzing.”
After visiting the Motorsports factory, the group traveled to the Technical Center at the SRI Kobe facility, where the tires are designed. The Technical Center also played host to discussions about the future of Falken Tire in the American Le Mans Series.
“An important part of the visit was to meet with the team headed up by Mr. Nishi to review the 2012 season and more importantly our plans for the 2013 season,” said Team Manager Derrick Walker. “The trip to Japan to visit the both the development and manufacturing plant was very interesting for me, not only were we able to see the process of making these very special tires but we were able to meet all the team involved in the program, many of who we never see here at the races.”
The data collected from Petit Le Mans will play into effect as early as next week when the team conducts the first test of the off season at Sebring International Raceway. “They have made a plan for our upcoming test to the first race,” said Wolf. “What they want to do next year looks very good and I was very pleased and what we saw. If they can bring what they have on paper on the street in a tire, I’m sure we’ll continue to move forward.”
“The trip to visit SRI Motorsports in Japan was extremely productive,” said Kevin Jones, Falken Tire’s ALMS Supervisor. “Visiting the motorsports factory and technical center allowed our drivers and team manager to better understand the tire development process which will help our team give focused feedback to our engineers in Japan for 2013. It was great to get the entire ‘brain trust’ in one room to discuss and plan for the future of this program moving forward.”
The trip concluded with a team dinner in celebration of the 2012 Baltimore Grand Prix win, marking the third win for Team Falken Tire.
“We were treated to a typical Japanese dinner on our last night,” said Derrick. “It was a great night and a very warm welcome from all the hard working guys behind the brand.”
Bryan echoed the thoughts of his co-driver and Team Manager. “Our trip to Japan was very informative and extremely successful. We left Japan feeling energized and having a clear goal and direction of the program.”