Lizards’ Last Lap Heroics Light Up the Night as Porsche Edges BMW in GT at Petit Le Mans
BRASELTON, GA – October 1 – Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) in the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR passed Dirk Werner in the BMW just before the last lap to capture first place at the 14th running of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Bergmeister, who co-drove with Patrick Long (USA) and Patrick Pilet (France), actually finished behind the Bruni/Kaffer/Fisichella Ferrari on the track, but since that car was only entered in the International Le Mans Series points battle, the Lizards get first place American Le Mans Series points.
“We are thrilled to take first place at the last two races of the season, especially in the fashion that we did. I was close to the BMW several times in the last 20 minutes, but could never get close enough to pass. Finally, after the late yellow flag, with a little more than one lap to go, Werner got caught in traffic and I took some risk and squeezed by him outside turn six. He got back on my bumper, but I was able to hold him off to the checkered flag,” said Bergmeister, who was also pleased that the pass enabled Michelin to earn enough points to capture the GT Tire Manufacturers Championship.
The “pass” and the rest of the race details can be watched tomorrow, Sunday, on ABC-TV starting at 4:00 PM Eastern time.
The Lizards started their march from the fifth-place qualifying position when the Melo/Vilander/Matos Ferrari retired after crashing in morning warm-up before the race. The one of the factory Corvettes broke early in the race and could not continue, and the other factory BMW had several flat tires. Meanwhile, Pilet, Long and Bergmeister kept a steady pace and stayed away from the multiple accidents that littered the 2.54-mile course during the 1000-mile event.
“We stayed with our plan to stay out of trouble so we were in a position to attack at the end. Everyone saw that the plan worked,” said Long, who had clinched the SCCA World Challenge championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car last month.
Patrick Pilet, who was a late replacement for Marc Lieb (Germany) as the team’s third driver, was impressed by the professionalism of his Flying Lizard teammates.
“Everyone here was really focused on finishing first, and, by adjusting the tire pressures constantly during the race to compensate for the changing track temperatures, the balance of our Porsche improved as the race went on. This was a great weekend for me, and I was glad to be part of the Lizard first place,” said Pilet.
Other Porsche 911 GT3 RSR finishers included the Team Falken Tire entry of Wolf Henzler/Bryan Sellers/Martin Ragginger (fourth); the Flying Lizard Porsche of Marco Holzer/Darren Law/Seth Neiman (eighth); and the Paul Miller Racing Porsche of Bryce Miller/Sascha Maassen/Emanuel Collard (11th).
In GT Challenge, Jeroen Bleekemolen and his brother Sebastiaan (both The Netherlands), along with team owner Tim Pappas, brought the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car its second straight championship, and Pappas’ second straight drivers title. The Alex Job Racing Battery Tender Porsche of Leh Keen/Brian Wong/Bill Sweedler was second, with Spencer Pumpelly/Duncan Ende/Peter Ludwig third.