Falken race team’s rapid turnaround leads to VLN podium joy
After a serious accident at the end of the Nürburgring’s Döttinger Höhe straight severely damaged Falken’s Porsche GT3R, the odds were heavily stacked against its race team to return for the next VLN race the following weekend. What started as a nightmare ended in a dream as not only did it manage to compete, but the Falken drivers Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori, out for the first time in the car, also recorded the team’s first podium finish in the VLN series just a week later.
The recovery process started on Monday: Representatives from Falken’s headquarters in Japan, its European headquarters in Germany, race team manager Sven Schnabl and the Porsche Motorsport department convened to see if it was feasible to field a car in the next race. In the back of everyone’s mind was the need to test new tyres before the 24-hour race. With time running out ahead of the June enduro, everyone agreed all opportunities had to be seized. With insufficient time to repair the existing car, the answer was a fresh chassis from Porsche. By luck a GT3 spec 997 was in stock and after the deal was completed on Tuesday, the Schnabl trailer was dispatched and a new, plain white GT3R was picked up direct from Weissach the following day. The entire Schnabl team toiled all night and by Thursday morning, the ‘stock’ GT3 was transformed into a VLN spec racer, set up for the Nordschleife. Come 12 o’clock on Friday, the car was rolled out in Falken’s iconic colours and incredibly, was ready for qualifying.
“In order to be best prepared for the 24-hour race, we have to go to every possible race. I am therefore pleased that the decision to participate in the second VLN race was taken and then everything came together so quickly,” says team manager Sven Schnabl, “Through our good connections with Porsche, we could get a replacement car in no time. This definitely made up for the disappointment the weekend before”.
Takeshi Imakita, chief tyre engineer for the Falken team, adds: “I am appreciative that we have the support of Porsche and that due to the tireless efforts of Schnabl Engineering we’ve been able to race at all this weekend! The disappointment last weekend was immense, but now we can get back on track with our development programme, invigorated by our first podium.
The successful pairing of Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori will line up again for Falken at the next VLN race in the series, the DMV 4 –hour at the end of the month.
About FALKEN Tyre Europe:
The technology and development of Falken High Performance Tyres and their driving characteristics have, for many years, been derived from motorsport, most recently its participation in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and Nürburgring 24 Hours. Tyre technologies developed on track are often transferred to the road, offering improvements in wet and dry grip, efficiency, feeling and control.
Falken Tyre Europe is a brand of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Japan, with European headquarters near Frankfurt. Falken has aggressively expanded its product range, launching new products in new sectors and niches across Europe. Falken’s current products range from the track-inspired Azenis series including the latest FK453 flagship through to the efficient and innovative ZE914, the rugged all-terrain WildPeak A/T, cold weather HS449 and SN832 Ecorun.