Falken Tire has confirmed it will race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014, as a privateer entry running new Porsche’s 911 GT3 RSR. The new 911, internally coded the 991, premiered in Europe this year with a two-car factory program in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and a factory two-car effort will also appear in the TUDOR Championship in 2014, with U.S. support and assistance from CORE autosport.
As for Falken, it’s welcome if not entirely unexpected news because the tire manufacturer joins Michelin in the GTLM category. GTLM is the only category where open tire competition will occur in 2014, with Continental the exclusive supplier to P, PC and GTD.
Longtime co-drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers will return for their fifth full season together. The pair and one of Henzler’s fellow Porsche factory drivers, Nick Tandy, teamed up for a stunning upset and popular GT class win with its 2010-spec Porsche 911 in the American Le Mans Series finale at Petit Le Mans last month.
Derrick Walker, too, will return to manage the team from his Indianapolis-based shop. Walker will continue the dual role he served in the second half of 2013 as both team manager for Team Falken Tire and IndyCar’s president of competition and operations.
The team, unfortunately, is set to miss the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the season-opening TUDOR Championship race as it’s a new car and will need to be built up.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”