FONTANA, Calif. (Jan. 4, 2010) — Falken Tire Corp. is turning over its still-fledgling American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race team to veteran race team manager Derrick Walker in the hope of achieving the team's first GT class victory.
Since deciding in 2009 to compete with its own car, the Falken team has shown promise but ultimately failed to win. In the 12 races during the 2009 and 2010 seasons in which Team Falken competed, the best result was a sixth place finish.
“The ever increasing competition amongst the already fierce GT class in which Falken competes in has forced us to look in all directions, outward and inward, in pursuit of excellence,” said Andrew Hoit, director of marketing, in announcing Falken's decision to engage Walker Racing to manage the Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR this season.
“His experience in such series as Champ Car, IndyCar and Formula 1 combined with the involvement from manufacturers such as Porsche, McLaren and Cosworth, make us confident that Derrick will bring the highest level of professionalism and knowledge to our team for 2011,” Mr. Hoit said.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Mr. Walker started as a mechanic in Formula 1 and worked his way up to managing Roger Penske's F1 team in 1976 and then stayed with Penske Racing, directing four drivers to five IndyCar national championships and 28 IndyCar wins, including five Indy 500 races.
He then was hired to run Porsche Motorsports' IndyCar team in 1998-99, after which he started his own IndyCar team in 1990. In his 17 years as team owner, Mr. Walker's drivers won five races and earned 13 poles in 390 races.
Mr. Walker's team has been inactive the past two seasons. The team will manage the Falken Tire Porsche program from facilities in Indianapolis.
Team Falken Tire will continue with drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler this season, which begins March 19 with a 12-hour race at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
Fontana-based Falken is a subsidiary of Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., which makes the Azenis race tires for Falken.