No. 45 2nd at Petit Le Mans, No. 44 8th: Lizards Close 2011 Season on High Note
October 1, 2011 – Braselton, Georgia – Joerg Bergmeister brought the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche home to a second place finish at the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans today, edging out the No. 55 BMW with a late-race pass. In the No. 44, Marco Holzer crossed the finish line eighth in GT. The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari won in GT.
Both Porsches ran virtually problem-free over the race, which lasted nearly 10 hours at Road Atlanta. In the No. 45, Bergmeister started fourth on the GT grid and Darren Law started twelfth in the No. 44. It was a clean start for the 52-car field, and both Bergmeister and Law held their positions at the start.
Over the next four hours, both Lizard Porsches cycled uneventfully through driver lineups: Patrick Long and Patrick Pilet in the No. 45 and Seth Neiman and Holzer in the No. 44. Incident after incident on track resulted in four lengthy yellows in the first four hours which fragmented the GT field pit stop sequence into several groups.
Just past the 4.5 hour mark, Bergmeister, back in the No. 45 for his second stint and in P3, had a left front tire puncture, sending him into the pits for an unscheduled stop. The stop dropped him to P6. Just past hour five, a second tire puncture sent Bergmeister back into the pits again. Meanwhile, the No. 44 had gradually climbed through the GT field to P8.
The race of attrition continued through the afternoon, claiming car after car and resulting in a total of 10 full-course cautions over the race. At hour nine, Bergmeister was once again behind the wheel of the No. 45, now in P3 behind the No. 55 BMW in P2. The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari was in the lead. Over the last 30 minutes, Bergmeister gradually closed the gap to the No. 55 and was putting pressure on the BMW looking for an opportunity to pass. A final caution at the end of the race ate up precious laps, leaving Joerg only a few laps to make his move. With just a lap and a half to go, Joerg overtook the No. 55 to take P2, securing the tire manufacturer title for Michelin. No. 44 finished eighth.
Bergmeister: "When we went green after the final caution, I had just 1.5 laps to go to the checkered. I had a one-lap lead on P4 and knew I had to make my move. At Turn 6, Dirk defended on the inside so I went to the outside and got by him. There was a bit of contact but I got by and from there it was just staying ahead of him. It was a great finish to a tough year. Thank you to the crew who worked so hard this year."
Patrick Pilet: "I was really happy to have the opportunity to be here as a last minute additon. The team did a really good job and made everything easy for me. We had fast pit stops and gained time at every one. No one made a mistake and of course there was Joerg's fantastic pass at the end. I'm really happy to be back with the Lizards and finish on the podium."
Patrick Long: "Over the last two races, we've shown that if we stick to the plan and let the race come to us, and are in there at the end, you can get results. To end the year on a high note gives us good momentum into the offseason.
Marco Holzer: "Even with all of the traffic it was actually a really good race. The No. 44 didn't have any problems over ten hours and we finished P8. I was happy with my times, and the crew did a fantastic job at the pit stops. I want to say thank you to the Lizards: I learned a lot this year in my races with the ALMS. I really hope to be able to come back here next year."
Darren Law added, "The No. 44 guys drove a great race and the crew did an excellent job. It was incident-free, and I'm happy with the result. It was a difficult race dealing with all of the classes, but a lot of fun."
Craig Watkins engineer of the No. 45, "It's been a long, challenging year. Any time you are in it for the long haul you are going to have years that are tougher than others. We ended the year on a high note: first with the win at Laguna, then with a second here at Petit. Thanks to the crew of the No. 45 for putting up with the endless changes to the car to improve it. In the end, we brought a solid racecar to the grid at every race this year thanks to their hard work."
Thank you to our fans, friends and family for all of your support over a long season. We'll see you in 2012!