Lizard Challenges Continue at Le Mans -- 7 Hour Update
10:00 pm CET -- Le Mans, France -- It's been a tough start to the 24 Heures du Mans for the Lizard squad. At the 7 hour mark, the No. 80 Porsche is running ninth in GT2 -- at the back of the nine cars remaining of the starting 12 in GT2. It's a long way from the lead, which the team held for much of the first two hours of the race.
Things looked promising at the outset, with Joerg Bergmeister starting third on the grid. (The team had qualified fourth, but the No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche, which was on the pole, received a penalty before race start, and had to move to the back to start last, moving all cars up one position.) In the first 15 minutes of the race, Bergmeister moved quickly to first position after passing the first and second position GT2 cars (the No. 96 Ferrari and the No. 77 Porsche). The No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari was close behind Bergmeister, moving into second. All went smoothly in Joerg's first stint and at the 50-minute mark, he turned the car over to Johannes van Overbeek. van Overbeek went out in second: the No. 82 Risi Ferrari also pitted at the same time but opted for no tire change and beat the No. 80 out of the pits. A few minutes into his stint, Johannes passed the No. 82 Ferrari, and retook the lead.
Johannes held the lead until his pit stop and driver change to Seth Neiman. Neiman headed out and things were still going well until the No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche collided with the No. 80, sending both cars deep into the gravel and Neiman into the guardrail. With one wheel broken, the other wheels severely damaged and suspension damage, Neiman was able to limp back to the pits.
80 minutes later, a nearly new car left the garage: the crew had repaired two of the three front radiators, replaced nearly every piece of bodywork, including the undertray, and repaired the right rear suspension. The lengthy repair pushed the Lizards from the lead to tenth. After the repairs, Joerg Bergmeister took the wheel for a double stint. Near the end of his stint, he set the fastest GT2 race lap so far, with a 3:59.887. He turned the car over to Seth in P9.
The bad luck continued for the Lizard when, 20 minutes into his stint, Neiman encountered oil in Arnage, going off course and into the tirewall, damaging the center and left front radiators, the front under floor and the front bumper.
After 30 minutes of repairs in the garage, Neiman was out on track again. He reported strong vibrations and returned to the pits. The crew decided to do a complete realignment, and Johannes van Overbeek headed out thirty minutes later.
7 hours into the race, the Lizards are in ninth and nearly 40 laps down on the overall leader.