Flying Lizard No. 45 Wins Petit Le Mans in GT2 and No. 44 is Fifth; Porsches Finish 1 through 5 in GT2 October 6, 2007 -- Braselton, GA. -- Flying Lizard won the first Petit Le Mans of the team's history today when the No. 45 Porsche crossed ...
Flying Lizard No. 45 Wins Petit Le Mans in GT2 and No. 44 is Fifth; Porsches Finish 1 through 5 in GT2
October 6, 2007 -- Braselton, GA. -- Flying Lizard won the first Petit Le Mans of the team's history today when the No. 45 Porsche crossed the finish line first in GT2 today at Road Atlanta. In a race of attrition with nearly a dozen cautions, more than one third of the field did not finish the 1000 mile endurance race, but the No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches avoided major mechanical problems and stayed out of trouble to finish first and fifth, respectively, in GT2.
[petit1.jpg] "It was a near flawless race for the No. 45," said Joerg Bergmeister, who started the race, driving together with Johannes van Overbeek and Marc Lieb. "We had a few issues at the beginning -- the left front tire was graining the left front a bit -- but after we made a compound change, the car handled well and we were very competitive for the entire race. The team did great pit stops -- we just had to keep the car on the track and push hard. This is my fifth consecutive class win at Petit and I'm proud to have been able to celebrate this with the Lizards."
[petit2.jpg] In the No. 44 Porsche, Seth Neiman, Darren Law, and Lonnie Pechnik also had a strong race. Neiman started the race in seventh, handing the car over to Darren, and then Lonnie. At the end of Lonnie's first stint, approximately four hours into the race, the No. 44 had progressed to third position as GT2 cars began to fall out. By the halfway point, the No. 31 Ferrari and the No. 62 Ferrari, which had both been battling for the lead for the first half of the race, were out of contention: the No. 31 was retired after colliding on course with the No. 53 Panoz, and the No. 62 fell far back in the field after being hit by a prototype and struggling with non-functioning brake lights over multiple pit stops.
Just over 6 hours into the race, the No. 44 was in fourth position, with the No. 45 in the lead, the No. 18 Rahal Porsche in P2 and the No. 71 Porsche in P3. Darren was on a strong pace and in the hunt for the top of the GT2 pack when he was hit by the No. 6 Penske prototype, sending both cars spinning off course. Darren was able to continue and pitted immediately. The crew made some quick repairs in the pits, Lonnie Pechnik took the wheel, and the No. 44 was out again, still in P4. On his outlap, Lonnie realized there was an issue and pitted again, driving immediately behind the wall for repairs. "The toelink and exhaust were bent -- we repaired those quickly and cut off some bodywork that was rubbing, and then reset the toe. It was a fast repair and a great job by the crew, but we fell back nearly 13 laps on the No. 45 which was in the lead. It was a shame because we were running at such at great pace and had hopes for a podium," said team manager and No. 44 strategist Eric Ingraham. Although both Darren and Lonnie maintained a strong pace throughout the remainder of the race, the gap was too wide for them to close and they finished in fifth.
Meanwhile, the No. 45 took the lead approximately five hours into the race and never looked back. Bergmeister, van Overbeek and Lieb cycled through their stints, with van Overbeek crossing the finish line three laps ahead of the next closest GT2 car, the No. 71 Tafel Porsche in second place, which had just edged out the No. 18 Rahal Porsche which finished in third. The No. 54 Porsche finished fourth. With the No. 44 in fifth, Porsches finished 1 through 5 in GT2.
It's the third win this season for the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche and a welcome change from the bad luck that's dogged the team since their last win at Mid-Ohio. The No. 45 and the team are still in contention for the ALMS championship. With this finish, the team is 13 points behind Risi Competizione for the team championship and the No. 45 drivers are 22 points behind the No. 62 Risi Ferrari drivers for the drivers' championship. There are 23 points possible for first place at the season finale at Laguna Seca, which means that it is still possible for the No. 45 and the Lizards to still win the championship.