First Podium of the Year for the Lizards at Lime Rock: No. 45 2nd, No. 44 7th in GT
It was a bittersweet finish for the Lizards: Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long secured the team's first podium of the year with a second place finish at today's Northeast Grand Prix, but only after seeing the chance to battle the No. 56 BMW to the finish evaporate after a late race tire puncture. Seth Neiman and Marco Holzer brought the No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche into seventh, after an ignition coil failure required a pit lane repair and pushed them far down in the field early in the race. The No. 56 BMW won in GT after leading the entire race.
Patrick Long started third on the GT grid in the No. 45; Seth Neiman started sixth in the No. 44. After a clean race start, Long quickly took P2, with the No. 56 BMW in the lead and the No. 55 BMW (which had started second) now in P3, followed closely by both Corvettes. Fifteen minutes into the race, Neiman radioed in that he had a misfire and immediately pitted for replacement of an ignition coil. The repair sent him back to P15. Just a few minutes later, a major incident collected the No. 55 BMW and both Corvettes- which were running P3, P4 and P5, respectively-- and the No. 02 ESM Ferrari. All four cars sustained heavy damage and pitted.
Near the one-hour mark, still in P2, Long pitted for driver change to Bergmeister, who was back on track still in P2. The No. 56 BMW was in the lead. The No. 62 Risi Ferrari, which had started from the back of the pack, had moved to P3 and the No. 17 Falken Porsche was P4. The four cars were running close together, dealing with the intense traffic of the large field on this short circuit.
Joerg continued to push the No. 56: keeping with him through the heavy traffic. With just one hour left to go, he had closed the gap to the No. 56 to three seconds. The No. 44 had moved up to P7, with Marco Holzer now behind the wheel.
Near the two-hour mark, Bergmeister, still in second, pitted for tires and fuel. The No. 56 also pitted. Fifteen minutes later, held up by traffic, Bergmeister was 17 seconds back from the BMW. Over the next 15 minutes and a full course caution, Joerg closed the gap once again to five seconds. With 10 minutes left to go, a tire puncture sent Joerg diving into the pits. He was back out on track quickly, but was now 34 seconds back from the No. 56 -- too wide of a gap to close in the final 10 minutes.
Bergmeister commented, "It was a frustrating stint to make so much progress and then lose ground with the tire puncture. But I felt good with the car; it was hooked up and the more rubber that accumulated on the track, the better the car got. We had some bad luck here, but we need to keep our heads down and keep pushing. I'm happy to see us back on the podium. Thanks to the 45 crew who did another great job in giving us a great car for today."
Holzer added, "I was flat out in the Porsche for most of my stint: it was handling well and I had fun navigating for position with all of the other classes. If we hadn't had the problem early in the race, I think we had a shot at a top five finish. The 44 crew also did a fantastic job. I'm looking forward to being back with the team at Mosport."
By: flying lizard motorsports