Flying Lizard's Fifth Consecutive Podium: 3rd and 8th in GT2 at Utah Grand Prix July 15, 2006--Tooele, Utah--Flying Lizard Motorsports further extended its lead in team and driver championship points with a third and eighth in class finish at ...
Flying Lizard's Fifth Consecutive Podium: 3rd and 8th in GT2 at Utah Grand Prix
July 15, 2006--Tooele, Utah--Flying Lizard Motorsports further extended its lead in team and driver championship points with a third and eighth in class finish at today's inaugural Utah Grand Prix. The 2 hour and 45 minute race on the new 4.5 mile road course at Miller Motorsports Park had only one caution and few technical problems across the field -- seeming almost placid compared to the chaos of the previous race at Lime Rock on July 1.
The nine-car GT2 field had a clean, nearly incident free race, but there were some heated battles throughout the field as three cars (the No. 62 Risi Ferrari, the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning Porsche, and the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche) fought for the lead. Starting the No. 45 from second in class on the grid behind the No. 31 Porsche, Johannes van Overbeek struggled at the start to find his pace. At the same time, the No. 62 Risi Ferrari and No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche, both on new tires, were furiously working their way through the field from the back of the pack.
Fighting loose handling, Johannes dropped from second to fifth in the first thirty minutes, but then rebounded to fight back to fourth place. "The first few laps were tough," he said. "At the start, the car was very loose. The No. 51, then the No. 62 and No. 23 were able to get by me which was really frustrating. For most of my stint, I just tried to stay focused on reeling the No. 51 Panoz back in. I was finally able to get safely around him and into fourth when I turned it over to Wolf."
Taking over from Johannes after 90 minutes, Wolf pushed hard for his entire stint, clocking some of the fastest Porsche lap times during his session. In fourth position, Wolf was more than 26 seconds behind the third place No. 31 Petersen Porsche when he took the wheel. The No. 31 Petersen Porsche, having led for much of the first half of the race, fell back to third behind the No. 23 AJR Porsche in second, and the No. 62 Risi Ferrari which never relinquished its lead after that point. Over the next 30 minutes, Wolf gradually closed on the No. 31 Petersen Porsche, clocking more than 1 second faster per lap. With only 10 laps to go, Wolf had a chance to overtake the No. 31 late in the race, assuming he could keep the same speed.
Then, with only 10 minutes left, the first and only caution of the race allowed many of the cars on the same lap to close large gaps to just seconds. Wolf added, "We had a lucky break at the end of the race. Before the caution, I was giving it everything I had to catch the No. 31 Porsche but I still had some distance to go. When we got the caution, I was able to close the gap to less than two seconds. Then, when the No. 23, who was in a solid second, went off course after the restart, I was able to move into third. It was clear that I didn't have a chance to catch the Ferrari, but I really wanted to get the No. 31 Porsche. I pushed as hard as I could, and but I couldn't find a safe opportunity to get around him. It was disappointing, but all of those guys -- the No. 62, the No. 31 and the No. 23 -- ran a great race. We are happy that we were able to finish in the podium."
Meanwhile, in the No. 44 Porsche, Seth Neiman settled into ninth early in the race after the field sorted itself out. He drove a solid hour and a half stint, staying out of trouble and out of the dirt. Darren Law took the wheel after 90 minutes, and started to look for his targets to reel in. He was able to overtake the No. 22 BMW after their late race pit stop, moving to eighth place. After the yellow, Darren got caught in traffic, going wide to avoid faster prototypes, his teammate, and the faster GT2 cars and was off into the dirt. "I was focused on keeping the pace for the last part of the race. It got a bit hairy there at the end -- going off track twice in a few laps -- but luckily I was able to continue and not lose too much time. Overall, we had a good race car, really clean pit work and did everything we could to finish as high as we could. Of course, I wish we could have been higher in the field, but a huge thanks to the guys for all of their work to put together such a clean car for Seth and me."
Up next for the Lizards is their next American Le Mans Series race, the Portland Grand Prix presented by Les Schwab in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, July 22nd.
-Flying Lizard Motorsports