Flying Lizard No. 45 2nd in GT2 at Petit Le Mans, No. 44 6th, No. 46 Retired due to Accident; Bergmeister and Henzler Clinch Drivers' Championship, Flying Lizard Secures Team Championship
October 4, 2008 -- Braselton, Georgia -- Five years in the making, Flying Lizard celebrated their first ALMS team championship -- clinched with a second-place finish at today's 1000-mile Petit Le Mans. Joerg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb brought the No. 45 Porsche into second, also securing the ALMS drivers' championship for Bergmeister and Henzler. It is the first championship for the two drivers together, and the first drivers' championship for the Flying Lizard team since it began racing with the ALMS in 2004.
The Lizards had been hoping for a clean race for all three cars, shaking the bad luck from the week prior to the race. Both the No. 44 (Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Lonnie Pechnik) and No. 46 (Johannes van Overbeek and Patrick Pilet) Lizard Porsches suffered significant damage in practice sessions, and the No. 46 was not able to make the qualifying session yesterday and started from the rear of the grid.
For the first 8 hours of the nearly 10 hour race, their luck held and all three cars were running nearly problem-free. Having started from fourth on the grid, Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 45 was able to stay close with the lead GT2 pack, which swapped positions over the first three hours as yellow flag after yellow reordered the field. Just past the three hour mark, the No. 45, now with Marc Lieb behind the wheel, took the lead and held it for the next three hours, when the No. 62 Risi Ferrari, which had been in second, passed to take the lead. By the 8 hour mark, the No. 46 had made its way to fourth and the No. 44 was in fifth, when the No. 44 developed a water leak. In the pits, the crew diagnosed a broken water pipe, which they repaired in a 20 minute pit stop repair, but lost 2 positions, falling from fifth to seventh.
After the No. 44 was back on track, the Lizards settled back into the race, when disaster struck with just over an hour to go in the race. The No. 46, which was in fourth position with Patrick Pilet in the car, was involved in a major collision with a prototype which had stopped on course. Patrick was uninjured in the accident, but the No. 46 was totaled and was retired, a significant disappoinment for van Overbeek and Pilet, who were third in the drivers' championship. Based on the laps that the No. 46 had accrued in the race before the accident, it still finished eighth in GT2 in the points.
Seth Neiman, Flying Lizard principal and driver of the No. 44 Porsche, reflected on the team's championship win: "Congratulations to Wolf and Joerg, the No. 45 crew and the entire team. It's particularly gratifying to win this championship in what is arguably the toughest year of competition in a very tough series. With a continuous onslaught over the season from teams of the caliber of Tafel Racing, Risi Competizione, and Farnbacher Loles Racing, and others, make this a very satisfying moment: for all of Flying Lizard, our partners Michelin and Porsche, and our sponsors ShoreTel and eSilicon."