LIZ HALLIDAY MAKES ALMS HISTORY IN PORTLAND Liz Halliday, international equestrian and racing driver, is now the most successful female driver ever in the history of the American Le Mans Series as she claimed yet another LMP2 class victory in...
LIZ HALLIDAY MAKES ALMS HISTORY IN PORTLAND
Liz Halliday, international equestrian and racing driver, is now the most successful female driver ever in the history of the American Le Mans Series as she claimed yet another LMP2 class victory in the Portland Grand Prix, round 6 of the series.
Halliday's record number of wins for a female currently stands at six -- three of which have been claimed this year with yesterday's success adding to earlier victories from season openers, the Sebring 12 Hours and the Houston Grand Prix.
Halliday and her Intersport Racing co-driver, Clint Field, have collected points at every outing and despite massive competition from the mighty, two-car Porsche factory team run by the illustrious Penske Racing outfit, they are still leading the title chase in this David vs. Goliath shoot out.
Saturday's story was a familiar one: Halliday and Field knew from the weekend's practice laps that although they were much closer in lap times than before, they would still not quite have the pace to match the Porsche Spyders. However if they could just hang on to the coat-tails of their rivals and stay out of trouble, then as has so often been the case, they could be ready to capitalise on any problems that the frequently-failing Porsche might encounter.
And so it was when firstly the number 7 Spyder of Romain Dumas had to pit for repairs having made contact with the Highcroft Racing Lola of Duncan Dayton shortly after the start. Dumas later rejoined the race, but was well out of contention. Finally, with just fifteen minutes to go before the flag, the class-leading sister Porsche of Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen pulled into the pits with engine-failure, promoting Halliday and Field into the top-spot and turning a slender 1-point lead in the driver's standings into a slightly more comfortable 5-point advantage for the duo.
With just four rounds of the series to go, the privateer-team drivers know that it will be difficult to hold-back the manufacturer-backed Porsche steam train, but they will continue to work on speed and focus on the strong reliability that the team has proven to have throughout the season so far.
"It is an awesome feeling to win tonight. Up against Porsche it is always a challenge, and along with the extreme heat and lack of grip, we really had to work hard in this race. This one is all thanks to the team and how hard they have worked to make the car so dependable. That has always been the great thing about the Lola-AER, its combination of pace and reliability.
"During my first stint, I had some contact from behind when I had to brake hard for a car in front," continued Liz, "but the car was surprisingly OK and I was able carry on. Then later, when the crew told me what had happened to the Porsche, the message was to play it safe and keep it consistently going around until the chequered flag, and I did as I was told. We cannot be the fastest P2 car out there right now, and everyone knows that, but we do have a great team that prepares the Lola so well and allows us the chance to be there at the end. That is what endurance racing is about after all. It is not always how you start, but how you finish.
"Tonight was a challenge for all of us but I cannot compliment our crew enough -- they put us in a position to take advantage of our rivals' problems and thanks to them, with four races left, we are right in the thick of the point's race. This result gives us a lot of momentum and now we can't wait for Road America."
Liz's team mate Clint Field said:
"We came away from Salt Lake a little disappointed. We took second which was great but we were not happy with our pace. This week we were a little closer to Porsche. The grip wasn't good and our pace in the race was a second to a second-and-a-half off. We kept going around and were happy to capitalise on their reliability.
"When a company like Porsche comes into the Series, they're going to do it right," Field added. "We want to beat them outright. Toward the end of this year and next year, I think we can get closer and beat them fair and square. We have a good car, engine package and tyres. With the announcement that Porsche was coming in, we upped our game and we'll do the same for Acura. Hopefully we'll be as quick as they are."
The next race of the American Le Mans Series takes place on 20th August at Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI, USA.