Flying Lizard Wins GT2 at Lime Rock: First Season Win for No. 45, No. 44 Finishes Fourth Lime Rock Park, CT -- In one of the most exciting races of the 2007 ALMS season, the Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches came from the back of the...
Flying Lizard Wins GT2 at Lime Rock: First Season Win for No. 45, No. 44 Finishes Fourth
Lime Rock Park, CT -- In one of the most exciting races of the 2007 ALMS season, the Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches came from the back of the GT2 pack to finish first and fourth, respectively, at today's Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. The No. 45 Porsche now leads in the ALMS GT2 drivers' championship and the team is second in the team championship.
Stakes were high in today's race, the halfway point of the season. The narrow 1.54 mile Lime Rock circuit proved to be a high-consequence course: nearly every team suffered at least one significant incident on track. The Lizards started seventh and eighth out of ten GT2 cars. (Friday's qualifying session was cancelled due to rain and the cars gridded based on Friday morning practice lap times.)
In the No. 45 Porsche, Joerg Bergmeister encountered some bad luck just after race start when a flat tire sent him immediately into the pits and put him two laps down on the next closest car. "I couldn't believe it," said Joerg. "After all that work, to be so far down so quickly was incredibly disappointing. But I stayed focused and kept on it: I was determined to stay in the running. Traffic was so difficult: everyone was in the game to win. One mistake, and cars were off into the wall or the swamp -- there was just no room for error."
During his 90-minute stint, Joerg was able to gain five positions, turning the wheel over to Johannes who headed out in fifth. 30 minutes into Johannes' stint, he was on a strong fast pace, but was still one lap down on the fourth position car. Of the top five cars, three were Ferarris. The No. 31 Petersen White Lightning Ferrari and the No. 62 Risi Ferrari were battling it out for first place, the No. 18 Rahal Porsche was in third; and the No. 61 Ferrari was in fourth.
With 45 minutes left in the race, the entire Ferrari field was collected in one incident which put the No. 18 Rahal Porsche into the lead and Johannes into second. Although all three Ferraris eventually rejoined the race, they had fallen back significantly and the No. 54 Team Trans Sport Porsche had moved into third place behind Johannes and the No. 18 Porsche.
The No. 61 Ferrari was the first of the three Ferraris back on track and passed the No. 54 Porsche, moving into third. The No. 18 Porsche then pitted for fuel and tires, giving up the lead to the Johannes in No. 45 Porsche. The No. 45 had had only one pit stop so far in the race during the driver change, and Chief Strategist Thomas Blam had to make the call if the car could finish the race without refueling. "It was a tough call," said Blam. "If we had come in for a splash of fuel, we would have run the risk of letting the No. 18 regain the lead. We calculated that we could make it and asked Johannes to stay out and conserve fuel."
Then, just minutes later, the No. 18 Porsche was hit on course and had to pit again, extending Johannes' lead to over a lap. All was going according to plan until Johannes bumped a prototype on course with just 10 minutes to go in the race. "With fluid from the front spraying my windshield, I knew I had damaged the radiator," said Johannes. "But if I pitted it would have cost us the race. They made the call for me to stay out but I had to make it two more laps. I was also so low on fuel that I wasn't sure which would happen first: that the engine would overheat or I would run out of fuel. But I was able to finish without pitting and we have our first win of the season. Thank you to everyone on the team who made this possible. I'd also like dedicate this win to a friend who passed away last week -- I wish he was here to celebrate with us today."
Meanwhile, Seth Neiman and Darren Law in the Flying Lizard No. 44 Porsche had one of their best races of the season, finishing fourth in GT2 after starting from eighth. Seth Neiman started and ran a good pace over his hour stint, switching to Darren Law. Along with Johannes in the No. 45, Darren worked his way through the GT2 field. In the final minutes of the race Darren was in fifth place. On the restart from a late race yellow, he overtook the No. 54 Porsche that he had been chasing for the previous 30 minutes to finish fourth.
No. 44 strategist and team manager Eric Ingraham added, "Despite taking our share of hits during the race, the No. 44 came out on the right side of the attrition in GT2. The crew did a great job -- both in prepping the car and in today's race pit stops. The drivers had good stints too -- they were able to keep pushing forward to the front of the field and stay relatively out of trouble."
The race will be televised on CBS Sports (tape-delayed) on Sunday July 8 at 1 pm Eastern Time. Up next for the Lizards is the seventh race of the 12-race ALMS season, the Acura Sports Car Challenge on July 21st at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.