Flying Lizard No. 44 6th and No. 45 10th in ALMS GT at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
March 17, 2012 – Sebring, Florida – Sebring proved to have it in for the Lizards again this year when the No. 45 was collected before the race even started by the No. 58 Luxury Racing Ferrari. Suffering substantial rear suspension damage in the incident, Joerg Bergmeister--who was starting eighth on the combined WEC/ALMS GT grid--was grounded on course for 30 minutes before officials could get the car back to the team's garage. Once back in the garage, the crew worked rapidly to replace the No. 45's complete left rear suspension, shock, and rear axle and repair bodywork. The Porsche was back on course just under the 1 hour mark but had lost 26 laps on the GT leader due to the lengthy repair.
Sister Lizard Porsche No. 44 fared better: Seth Neiman started near the back of the GT grid and after an uneventful stint, turned the wheel over to Darren Law in P12 (combined). Over the next several hours, the Lizard drivers cycled through their stints - with Andy Lally taking over from Law in the No. 44. In the No. 45, after Bergmeister returned to the race and completed his stint, he turned the wheel over to Patrick Long, then Marco Holzer.
By the six-hour mark, Darren Law was back in the No. 44 and had moved up to P10 (combined). The No. 45 was now P13 (combined) with Joerg Bergmeister again behind the wheel and now 25 laps down on the GT leader.
Shortly past the halfway point, Lizard engineers made the decision to bring the No. 45 behind the wall a second time under yellow to replace a defective gear potentiometer. Bergmeister went directly to the garage where the crew replaced the gear sensor. The No. 45 returned to the pits for driver change to Patrick Long , who was back out on track 40 minutes later, still in P13.
By hour nine, the No. 45 was still P13 (combined), and the No. 44 had moved up to P8 (combined). Bad luck struck again when Joerg radioed in that he had another problem in the left rear. The crew called him into the pits immediately, and diagnosed a broken left rear subframe. The No. 45 went behind the wall for the third time to replace the subframe. Meanwhile, a final pit stop for the No. 44 and driver change to Andy Lally moved the Porsche back to P9 (combined). On the last lap, Lally was able to overtake the P8 GT car for position, moving to P8 (combined). The No. 45 rejoined just a few minutes before the checkered, to finish P13 (combined). The ALMS GT-only finishing positions were P6 for the No. 44 and P10 for the No. 45 and points were allocated according to those results. The No. 56 BMW won in ALMS GT.
Bergmeister commented, "It was a very unfortunate to get hit before the green flag even dropped. But the guys did an incredible job in fixing the car and getting us back on track - not just once, but three times. It's possible that all of our problems stemmed from that initial accident; so other than that incident, we really had a problem-free race. I'm happy that we managed to get some points for the championship."
Lally added, "It was a wonderful first experience as a Lizard: I'm honored to be a part of the team and had a great time with a fun group. I enjoyed all of my stints - it was an exciting race. At the end of the race, when I was closing in on the No. 02 Ferrari with half a lap to go, we both got caught up in traffic and I was able to sneak by to gain a position and points. It was definitely the cherry on top of a very cool weekend."