Falken and the double Porsche

Make two out of one: In 2020, Falken Motorsport will start with two GT3-Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Nürburgring Endurance Series as well as in the legendary 24-Hour Race in the Eifel. Another success story, however, ends. The team of the Japanese tyre manufacturer says goodbye to the BMW M6 GT3, which has been entered for the last three years in addition to the Porsche and which has provided special moments in the history of the Falken team. In July 2017, Stef Dusseldorp and Jörg Müller won the 48th Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy race with their BMW. The success at the fourth round of the 2017 VLN Endurance Championship was the first victory for the Falken team in the “Green Hell” after 6,610 days or the equivalent of 18 years. In 2019 followed another very good fifth place as fastest BMW at the 24h Race.

“The BMW project was scheduled for two years. We then extended it to three years. During this period, a new vehicle usually comes in and then you would normally renegotiate. As is known, BMW didn’t have a new car yet. It is in preparation but will still take some time. We have decided to focus on one thing, namely on us,” explains Stefanie Olbertz, who is responsible for the motorsport programme at Falken Tyre Europe GmbH, and she adds: “In such case, it is helpful to have two cars of the same manufacturer. It was clear to us from the beginning that it doesn’t make life easier in a racing series if you have two cars from different manufacturers. That doesn’t mean that this will be the same for all and forever. It has nothing to do with BMW or the performance, we were very happy with the car.”

Now a motorsport outsider might get the idea that two different brands give more fruitful and meaningful results for a tyre manufacturer in terms of data evaluation than just one test vehicle. Olbertz, though, objects to this in some respects. “On the one hand this is true because you have two completely different vehicle concepts and you can sometimes switch back and forth. Although the purpose is not the development for road tyres, the findings from our tyre development work are nevertheless partly incorporated. That’s why we did it back then. It has worked perfectly well for three years now. Especially in 2018, this has resulted in some successes. On the other hand, we are saving time and, in part, money by focusing. Moreover, the Porsche is the newer vehicle in which the technical potential has not yet been fully exploited. Last but not least, we have also been working with Porsche for a very long time now”.

After Falken raced from success to success at the legendary Nordschleife in 2018, the team did not make it to the podium last year. In 2018, the Falken team took a double victory at VLN6 with Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger in the Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of Stef Dusseldorp and Alexandre Imperatori in the BMW M6 GT3. At VLN9, Bachler/Ragginger then triumphed again. In total they scored seven top three positions. In 2019, the ‘Falcons’ flew past their goal. “There were several reasons for this, we didn’t get along very well with the unusual weather conditions. In 2018, there was not a single wet race in the VLN whereas in 2019, it was actually completely the other way round. The tyres behave differently on the two cars. Especially in mixed conditions it was not always easy to evaluate and interpret the different results. Sometimes the same tyre did not work on the other car at the same time. At times, we only just missed the podium. In the end, only the result counts. That is a fact. This has also prompted us to look where we can improve strategically,” says Olbertz.

Almost nothing changes at Falken Motorsport in 2020 in terms of the car design. Both Porsches will appear in the traditional turquoise-blue livery: “It will almost certainly not be a purple livery. We’ll see what to do with the second car, so that the two Porsches will not only differ by the start numbers, but the colours will definitely remain the same. It will be easy to identify that it’s a Falken car,” says Olbertz, because it is otherwise also hardly possible to distinguish between the two Porsches. “They are basically identical in construction, just one year apart.”

At the end of February, Falken will then also announce the final line-ups of the GT3 cars. First of all, the shakedown in Portimāo, Portugal, is on the schedule. Olbertz does not put the cards on the table yet: “In any case, there will again be some faces which are familiar in connection with Falken. But there will also be a few new drivers, we have again received works support from Porsche. We are of course very happy about that.” One thing, however, is certain: Both vehicles will be driven by drivers with Pro status, as usual with Falken.