HALLIDAY'S MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE TO DATE
Californian racing driver and international equestrian, Liz Halliday, received plaudits from rivals and team mates alike on Sunday after a stunning performance in Round 8 of the American Le Mans Series in Mosport, Canada.
UK-based Halliday started the 2h45m race from 3rd in class, 7th overall, and had onlookers gripped when, having inherited 2nd place from arch rival Sascha Maassen of the mighty factory Porsche team when he pitted early for fuel under a safety car period, she managed to keep him at bay for nearly a full stint. Liz was matching his lap times lap for lap in a tense duel, until she was ultimately hampered by a couple of brake lock ups and a flat spotted tyre in the last lap of her stint.
The entire race was held in dry conditions, which came as a welcome surprise after torrential weather caused organisers to cancel Saturday's qualifying session and allocate grid positions according to lap times attained in free practice. With just half an hour to the start of the race and with grey clouds still looming ominously overhead, Halliday's Intersport racing team opted to put a full dry-weather set-up on the LMP2 class Lola-AER, a decisive move which would pay great dividends later in the event.
Liz's performance was followed up by a typically charging drive by team mate, Clint Field, who took to the circuit 3rd in class and 7th overall. Unfortunately, after a few laps Field began to have problems with the front brakes locking up which ultimately had him back in the pits on lap 53, when he came down the pit lane in spectacular style with the Lola's front brake discs on fire. Instantly the Intersport crew set to work on repairing the damage and did an amazing job to have it back on the circuit less than half and hour later. With 50 minutes remaining, Clint laid 19th overall, 28 laps down on the leader and hopes of beating the Porsches were now dashed. The new objective was to cover at least seventy percent of the leaders' race distance in order for the car to be classified at the end of the race and therefore eligible for championship points. Clint achieved this with a quality, consistent drive and came home third in class, securing an impressive eighth podium in as many races for the small privateer team.
After the race, a delighted Liz said: "Today I think I drove the best stint of my career and I am really pleased. I was hoping all weekend for the race to be dry because it's such an incredible track to drive on slicks. I just love this circuit - it's fast and challenging and is definitely one of my favourite tracks of the season. It is a shame we had the problem with the brakes today as we were closer to the Porsches than we have been for a while and I think we had the potential to challenge and maybe split them on the podium. The crew did brilliantly to get us back out on track during the race though, and they were a big part of the points we gained today. We had a tough time, but I am glad I was able to show some of my potential today. I feel like I have learned a lot and stepped up in my driving this weekend, and I am going to do my best to build on that for Petit Le Mans and the future."
Team mate Clint Field was also very impressed by Liz's performance. He said: "Liz was awesome today. This was absolutely the best stint she has ever done and I am very proud of her. When I took over the car, we were in a very strong position thanks to her efforts and we were able to push the second Porsche hard. Unfortunately, after a few laps flat out, the front brakes locked and I had to drive with them like that all the way from Turn 2. They were so hot by the time I got to the pits that they were flaming! Thankfully I managed to get the car back to the boys who did a great job to turn our fortunes around. All credit to them for a great team effort today."
Round 9 of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the famous "Petit Le Mans" in Road Atlanta and takes place on 30th September.