Team Falken Tire will conclude its run in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at the end of the year, it was announced Wednesday.
The company was exploring its options in motorsports and will instead focus on more grassroots programs.
“While we’re concluding what’s been a very valuable and rewarding relationship with IMSA and TUSCC after this season, we look forward to following – and cheering on – the continued growth of American sports car racing under the expert guidance of IMSA President Scott Atherton and his entire accomplished team,” Richard Smallwood, President and CEO, Falken Tire, said in a report on Modern Tire Dealer.
Atherton thanked Falken for its involvement in IMSA.
“The Team Falken Tire program has been a championship-level performer, both on and off the racetrack, for the past several years in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón previously,” Atherton said.
“Its victories at Petit Le Mans each of the past two years – among other victories – prove the caliber of the team.
“Falken Tire consistently has used the team, car and their involvement in the TUDOR Championship in its mainstream advertising and the success they have had against the best of the best GT race teams and tire manufacturers in the world is truly impressive.
“Unfortunately, Falken Tire has made a business decision to discontinue its TUDOR Championship program following the 2015 season.
“They will be sorely missed by their many fans – and by all of us. As always, IMSA will continue to offer an open platform for multiple tire manufacturers in the GT Le Mans class.”
Team Falken Tire premiered in the American Le Mans Series in 2009, and began a full-time effort in 2010.
The team won its first two races at Mid-Ohio and Baltimore in 2011, added another win at Baltimore in 2012, and has since won the last two Petit Le Mans in 2013 and 2014.
After running the venerable Porsche 911 GT3 RSR through 2013, the Derrick Walker-run team switched to a Porsche 911 RSR in 2014, to become the first customer team with a Porsche 911 RSR in North America.
Bryan Sellers, who has been with Falken since the start of its then American Le Mans Series program and driven with longtime co-driver Wolf Henzler, has been an integral part of the effort.
“This is difficult. It is leaving family. I don’t say that casually or as a figure of speech,” Sellers said. “Everyone at Falken Tire and Walker Racing has become my family over the last seven years.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity they presented to me in 2009 and I am excited to see this program through from start to finish.
“Over the course of my time as a Falken Tire driver, we have seen a great deal of success together.
“We have overcome a lot of obstacles and I think we proved a valuable resource to Falken, Porsche and the race organizers in that time.”
The team will finish out the remainder of the season as is.
It remains to be seen what Walker, who serves as IndyCar’s president of competition and operations in addition to his sports car duties, will do from a Walker Racing standpoint in terms of keeping the staff and personnel going.