SEBRING, Fla. – Spencer Pumpelly scored a podium finish at the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring, the opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
The race marked Pumpelly’s full-season debut with Flying Lizard Motorsports as he helped the veteran Porsche squad take home a runner-up finish in its first race in the GTC category.
It was up against this competition that Pumpelly qualified the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“Our plan in qualifying was to do two laps and park the car,” Pumpelly said.
“We stuck to that plan and qualified fourth, only 0.018-second off of second and third place, which tied with the same qualifying time; that’s how close the GTC field was.”
Pumpelly started the car and kept it in the top-five before handing off to co-drivers Nelson Canache Jr. and Brian Wong. The No. 45 remained on the lead lap through the entire 12-hour race despite a spin and contact with another GTC car.
“The Lizards did an amazing job preparing this car and being ultra quick in the pits,” Pumpelly said. “We spent less time in the pits than any other GTC car by more than two minutes.
Nelson and Brian did a stellar job during their stints, so we were able to stay consistently in the top five.”
During his third stint, with less than five hours to go, Pumpelly had the car in the lead and was building a comfortable cushion to second place, before a full-course caution erased the gap.
The team entrusted Pumpelly to bring the car home. For his fourth and final stint, Pumpelly took over the car while the team ran third in class. He then passed Damien Faulkner to claim second place, giving Flying Lizard Motorsports a podium in its GTC debut.
“Anytime you’re at Sebring with a really strong team, your goal is to win, so there’s a little disappointment that we weren’t able to do that,” Pumpelly lamented.
“But, if we put that in perspective, since it was the Lizard’s first race with that car, it was a really good way to start the season. It was a good day for points in what can be the toughest race to make points in.
In the end, everyone seemed happy and we’re looking forward to continuing on our learning curve.”
Though 2013 is Pumpelly’s first full-season with Flying Lizard Motorsports, it is not his first race with the team; Pumpelly drove for the team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011 and 2012.
The Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is next on the calendar for Pumpelly and Flying Lizard Motorsports, but first Pumpelly will travel to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for round three of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, driving for BGB Motorsports. The 2.3-mile road course is only a short trip from Pumpelly’s hometown of Atlanta, Ga.