IN HER OWN WORDS: LIZ HALLIDAY
BRASELTON, Ga. (July 27, 2006) - Following three wins, a second place and two thirds in the opening six races of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, Liz Halliday's attention now turns to a pivotal stretch of the season. Four races remain for Halliday and her co-drivers, Jon and Clint Field, in the No. 37 Intersport Lola.
After running three events during July, the Series will draw breath and next be in action August 18-20 for the Generac 500 at Road America. During this slight break in her driving schedule, but not in her other pursuits (Liz also is an international equestrian), the winningest female driver in Series history (six victories) took the time to reflect on the first half of the sports car season.
Question: All in all, are you happy with how the first portion of the season has unfolded for you and the team?
Answer: By and large, yes. Getting the LMP2 win at Sebring was a huge confidence-builder for all of us. Winning that race over the 12-hour period proved that our car had the durability you need to win out here.
Q: At the end of 2005, Porsche debuted the first of its LMP2 cars with Roger Penske managing the team. What was your initial reaction?
A: The more top-of-the-line manufacturers we can attract into the Series, the better it is for all of us. We knew from the start that we could not match either of their cars in terms of flat-out speed. Where we could compete, however, was in our ability to finish races."
Q: The Penske cars have won an overall race (Mid-Ohio) and led in several others, and some feel it is the equivalent of an LMP1 car.
A: I would not want to speak for them, but their stated goal has been to win as many LMP2 victories as they can, and I think they are sincere in that belief. Lucas (Luhr) and Sascha (Maassen) are both champion drivers. They are tough to beat no matter what car they might be in.
Q: You ended July with a come-from-behind win at Portland. Explain how it came about?
A: Both Porsches showed early speed. But the No. 7 car got tangled up with Duncan Dayton's prototype and needed extensive repairs. That allowed us to move up to second position. Then with about 15 minutes to go in the race, the No. 6 blew its engine and now it was up to us to take advantage.
Q: When Luhr went out, you were in the car. What did the team tell you on the radio?
A: Just the normal lap information followed by the fact that I was running in first place! After that I was just told to keep the car on course, and not do anything too risky that would jeopardize a win.
Q: Of the three wins so far, which was more satisfying: Sebring or Portland?
A: You can't categorize winning. Sebring was great because it set a tone. When the Porsches came on the scene, a lot of people thought we might not win again. Both Sebring and Portland were gratifying from the standpoint that we had a reliable car, managed to avoid trouble, and came home first in class.
Q: Intersport and Porsche are currently locked in a tight battle in the LMP2 points race. How do you see that playing out?
A: We are, and I hope we will continue to be all the way to the final event at Laguna Seca in October. All of us at Intersport have a lot of respect for the team that Penske/Porsche has put together. At the same time, I hope they have the same respect for us.
Q: How has your driving improved from last year to this?
A: I believe I get better from race to race, but there are still some rough spots along the way. At Salt Lake City, I thought my first stint (to open the race) was one of my poorest as I always have very high standards for myself. Jon pulled me aside and said, 'We all know you can do better,' and put me back in the car for the finish of the race. That meant a lot. I've only been driving this type of car for about a year and I'm improving all the time, but I'm competing against some of the best drivers in the world and I try to learn from each of them as I go along.
Q: At Portland, you "debuted" as a CBS reporter during a feature segment. How did that go?
A: It was a lot of fun. Television commentary is something I want to pursue career-wise and the more experience I can get now, the better. My job was just to talk to the other drivers about some fun topics that were a bit different than the average interview, racing or non-racing. I think I came off OK!
Q: What will you be doing between now and the next race at Elkhart Lake?
A: I'll be concentrating mostly on my horses and eventing in England. I left the States the day after Portland, and for the most part, I've just been working my horses out in preparation for several events in early August. It will be good to spend a couple weeks focusing on my horses consistently, but I also think that I'll be more than ready to get back in the car by mid-August. It's going to be a fight to the finish in our class and I'm greatly looking forward to being in the middle of it.