Flying Lizard Third and Seventh in Hard-Earned Podium at Mosport; Retains GT2 Championship Lead September 3, 2006--Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada--The Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches finished third and seventh, respectively, in ...
Flying Lizard Third and Seventh in Hard-Earned Podium at Mosport; Retains GT2 Championship Lead
September 3, 2006--Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada--The Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches finished third and seventh, respectively, in today's Labor Day Grand Prix of Mosport. It was another tough race for the Lizards, who watched the No. 45 car start from third, then rocket to first and hold the lead for two-thirds of the race with Marc Lieb at the wheel. But their hopes for a win were dashed when a flat tire and unscheduled pit stop set the No. 45 back far down in the field. Teammate Johannes van Overbeek, who is leading in the ALMS GT2 drivers' championship, was able to battle back to finish third in class and set the fastest race lap of any GT2 Porsche. Sister car No. 44 finished seventh after a solid race by Seth Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik.
At race start, it looked promising for a competitive race with the track finally dry following 48 straight hours of rain. The crew was ready with rain tires just in case, but all cars were able to start on slicks. The No. 45 shot to first place on the first lap after taking advantage of an incident between a Corvette and an Aston-Martin. After shooting the car-wide opening between the Aston Martin and the wall, Marc moved into first and never looked back.
Multiple on-track incidents in the first few minutes resulted in retirement of several cars, including the No. 50 Multimatic Panoz and the No. 22 Team PTG BMW. The resulting caution just fifteen minutes into the race narrowed Marc's advantage, allowing the GT2 field to close back up under yellow. But on the restart, Lieb once again took off and over the next hour built a more than 20 second lead on the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning Porsche in second place.
With a clean pit stop for fuel and tires, Johannes van Overbeek took the wheel of the No. 45, leaving the pits focused on extending the lead Marc had built. Just a few laps after the stop, an incident with one of the Dyson cars resulted in his left rear wheel going off the track, "I thought it was OK: I was able to continue and I still had a significant lead over the 51 Panoz in second. But on the next lap, suddenly I felt the car get really loose. My tire went flat, I spun, and I nearly wrecked but luckily I was able to keep control."
With a flat tire and broken wheel, Johannes had to work his way slowly around the track to the pits, where the crew replaced the tire and sent him back out. But the unscheduled (and longer than normal) pit stop cost the No. 45 a lap and their hard-fought first position. "It was such a shame," van Overbeek continued. "This was the best racecar we've had all year. It was so easy to drive and extremely fast on this track."
The No. 45 Porsche had company in the pits: both the No. 23 Porsche and the No. 31 Porsche also made unscheduled pit stops for repairs. An early race incident between the No. 23 Porsche and the No. 62 Risi Ferrari put the No. 23 out of the running for the lead, and the No. 31 fell back to sixth late in the race after a gear shift issue. With 20 minutes to go, van Overbeek, then in fourth place, was able to pass the leading No. 62 Risi Ferrari to get a lap back and pass the No. 51 Multimatic Team Panoz for third place. "It was too late to do anything about the Ferarris at that point. They were solidly in first and second. It was really disappointing, but in the end, the crew did an incredible job in preparing that car and getting me back on track so quickly. I'm happy that we were able to finish on the podium," added van Overbeek
The No. 44 had another solid race, finishing seventh. Seth Neiman started the race, turning the wheel over to Lonnie Pechnik after an hour and half. No. 44 car chief Paul Truess commented on the race, "It was an interesting race in terms of setup. It's the first time we've run under the threat of rain this year. All of the teams struggled with decision about what kind of setup to put on the car for the race. Because we couldn't predict if it would rain during the race we had to be prepared for every eventuality. And since qualifying had been cancelled, the requirement that cars start the race on their qualifying tires was lifted and we could start on any tires we wanted. We were ready at race start to change to rain tires on the grid if necessary. Luckily, it didn't rain in the race, but the compromises we had made in setup for the rain meant that we didn't handle as well on a green track but were faster once some rubber had been laid down."
With this finish, Flying Lizard retained the lead in both the ALMS GT2 team and drivers' championships. There are two races left to go -- Petit Le Mans in Braselton, Georgia on September 30, and Monterey Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca on October 21. Both races are extra point races. It is still an open championship and the Lizards will need to finish high in the field during both races in order to win.
-credit: flying lizard motorsports