Elkhart Lake, Wisc. – August 18, 2012 – The #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR took the GT class lead at the drop of the green flag at today’s four-hour American Le Mans Series Road Race Showcase, and held it for most of the race, but some ill-timed full course cautions snatched a potential victory from their grasp at Road America.
Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) kept a large contingent of Ferraris, Corvettes, Vipers, a Lotus, and BMWs at bay for more than three hours until they came in for their last pit stop under yellow when others had just stopped under green. The track position they lost when the others didn’t have to come in cost them a win. Bergmeister, who drove the last stint which included the late yellow flags, was happy with the car’s run, although he lamented the second place finish.
“It is too bad that the timing of yellow flags, not the best car, determines who can win the race. Our Lizard Porsche was great today, and we thought we had a winning plan, but luck was not with us. Still, a second place in this class is good as we moved up from fourth place in the last couple of minutes. I was waiting for someone in front of me to make a mistake, and when the Corvette and BMW hit each other, I was right there to pass them both. In the last four races, we have a win, two seconds, and another first place finish that was eliminated in tech, so we continue to have had a good second half of the season,” said Bergmeister, who had won four previous races here.
Patrick Long, who drove the middle part of the race, was happy with the car’s performance, and that he could maintain a lead, albeit a narrow one, over chasing Corvettes and BMWs.
“We should be happy with a good second place effort, but, although we would rather have the win, we have to accept the luck of the yellow flags. I was able to push hard at qualifying pace for my whole stint and our Michelin tires stood up to the challenge. The Lizard Porsche was fast and balanced, and we’re looking forward to Baltimore in two weeks,” said Long.
Finishing in the fifth position in GT, their best result of the year, was the Chopard Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA), while the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA) finished 12th after running as high as third late before a tire failure due to increasing oversteer led to an event-ending crash. The second Flying Lizard Porsche of Seth Neiman (USA) and Marco Holzer (Germany) was eight after Marco had put the car first on the grid.
For Sascha Maassen, this was the first race all year where he felt the Paul Miller Porsche was capable of mixing it up with the GT leaders.
“It was clear that we were working the yellow flag strategies. In the first two stints we had issues with the tire pressure, but we improved that scenario during the race. The last two stints we got it right and the car was picking-up speed. Bryce did a great job in the end. Once we had a really good call when we beat the ‘pits closed’ sign by two seconds to come in just before the pits closed, so Bryce was able to go out in third on the last restart. My second stint I enjoyed a lot as I was fighting with the BMW and then I was fighting with the Ferrari. Being able to fight with these cars shows us that we are gaining performance,” said Maassen.
Bryce Miller was proud of the team effort shown by the crew, and please with the new car’s tire development.
“I was battling a little bit of under steer. The track conditions were very difficult. There were a lot of cars off and if they didn’t go off they were kicking up dust and dirt. It was especially exciting there when we went back to green the last time. The hardest part was just trying to find clean track and take advantage of all the incidents out there. Over the four hours it was getting pretty greasy but I am really proud of the team. They really hit their marks on all of the pit stops. They’ve been working really hard at that and it showed. The Dunlop tire has been progressing. Getting the car to marry the tire has been a progress in the making too,” said Miller.
The Team Falken Tire team, which has intensified its tire program as well as the season has progressed, drew praise from its two drivers as their Porsche was again headed for a top four finish. Wolf Henzler was also very complimentary of the Falken crew.
“The race went than qualifying did for us. We were closer in our lap times to our competitors. The first couple of laps in each stint we could stay at the same pace as the others, but they started to pull away. Unfortunately at the end of Bryan’s stint, we don’t know exactly whathappened, but something happened with the left rear tire from the increasing over steer and the car spun in the Kink. The Kink is a very fast corner and he hit the wall. The most important thing is he’s alright. In the last pit stop with Bryan, he did a double stint, we jumped from 9th to 4th, making up five positions. The guys really made a very quick tire changes and refueling,” said Henzler.
Bryan Sellers knew something wasn’t right and thought he had a slow leak, and the team couldn’t find anything bad on the telemetry, but luck was not with them today.
“The Porsche has been really strong the past couple races and it means that what we’re doing right now is moving in the right direction. Without a little bit of bad luck today we might have had a decent finish. It was a very difficult situation for us unfortunately. We had a tire failure due to increasing over steer that developed during the race, and had a huge wreck. It’s one of those situations where we did all the right protocol to prevent it from happening. I slowed down, called in to the team, they checked the telemetry.
Everything looked okay, I still didn’t feel right. So I slowed down to a speed where if we had a slow leak, it’s still a savable speed. Unfortunately it wasn’t a slow leak. Ultimately it ended with a lot of crash damage and a lot of work for the guys ahead. The hardest part of the day for me is the fact that there’s a whole new list of things for the guys to do. This put us behind a little bit instead of progressing. The guys are good and I have no doubt they’ll turn it around,” said Sellers
In the GTC class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, Cooper MacNeil (USA) moved closer to clinching the series championship in his WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car as he teamed with Porsche specialist Jeroen Bleekemolen (The Netherlands) to win his second GTC race of the season and carve out a 31-point lead over the Green Hornet Racing Porsche team of Peter LaSaffre (USA) and Damien Faulkner (Ireland), who finished third. The JDX Hertz Porsche was second, with Martin Ragginger (Germany) and Chris Cumming (USA) at the controls – all on the same lap as the winners.
MacNeil, who lives in the nearby Chicago area, knew that if he could keep the car together, Bleekemolen could take it to the house.
"There is really no better place to win our second race than here at Road America. My goal for the stint was to keep the car in one piece so Jeroen could go out and do his thing. That's what we did. The car was great. I had no issues. My run was pretty drama free. We extended our lead in the points even more heading into a tough street course in Baltimore," said MacNeil, who ran a similar car last year in IMSA GT3 Challenge.
Bleekemolen, who has multiple Porsche Supercup championships and a Le Mans class win, said the car was great and the team performed well.
"The whole race was pretty much perfect. We didn't make any mistakes on the track. Cooper put in a really great stint. The guys did perfect pit stops and we had good strategy. It got exciting because of the yellows. If it weren’t for the yellows to close up the field, we would have had a gap on the rest. The car ran good. It was a little hard in the middle of the race, but at the end the car came back and was perfect," said Bleekemolen.
Also finishing on the same lap as the winners in GTC was the Hollywood Studios Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Bob Faieta/Michael Avenatti (fourth); and the GMG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of James Sofronas/Alex Welch (fifth).