Flying Lizard Prepares for Its Third 24 Heures du Mans
May 10, 2007 -- Sonoma, Calif. -- A third of the way through its 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, Flying Lizard Motorsports is preparing to head to France for their third consecutive 24 Heures du Mans endurance race. The Sonoma-based GT2 team will field its No. 80 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the historic 24-hour contest, June 16-17, at the legendary 8-mile Circuit de la Sarthe road course in Le Mans, France.
Drivers Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman and Joerg Bergmeister will team in driving the No. 80 Porsche. Though it's the trio's first time running together at Le Mans, all three have competed here before. van Overbeek and Neiman are returning for their third try at the GT2 trophy and Bergmeister, who is driving with van Overbeek for the 2007 ALMS season in the team's No. 45 Porsche, is returning for his fourth race at Le Mans, having won in GT2 in 2004.
At Le Mans in 2005 the Lizards finished third in GT2. In 2006 they finished fourth. Neiman commented, "We're really looking forward to our third visit to Le Mans and are pleased to be one of only four American teams invited this year. Last year's result -- where our own errors likely cost us a podium and possibly even a win -- left us focused on bringing our best to this year's race."
This year, the Lizards face a challenge of a very different sort. "With the new 2007 Porsche based on the 997 body type, it's a whole new ballgame," commented Chief Engineer Craig Watkins. "It's the first time we've run the new car on this style of long, fast course. Getting quickly to the right race setup for the fast track is going to be critical. The June 3rd test day will be our first chance to really see how the new Porsche's aero, wider tires, and heavier weight will influence its performance here."
The 75th running of the 24 Heures du Mans will have the largest overall field since 1989: 55 performance sports cars competing in four classes. This year, for the first time in recent history, Porsche will face an obvious challenge against a substantial field of Ferraris: four Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs will go head to head with five Ferrari F 430 GT2s, two Panoz Esperantes and two Spyker C8 Spyders. "In terms of strategy," said team strategist Thomas Blam, "you have to look at this as a 24-hour sprint race. Everything needs to be prepared with that in mind: the car, the strategy, even the drivers' physical training. That said, reliability and consistency always are a strong suit here and can outweigh outright speed and performance: we saw that in 2006 with the Panoz Team LNT's win in GT2. This year will be another competitive field in GT2. So far, we've been very impressed by the reliability of the new 2007 Porsche and hope this is a sign of how the car will play out over a 24 hour race."
Bergmeister added, "I'm thrilled to be here this year with the Lizards They have the experience and organization to do what it takes to win this race. We have our work cut out for us over the next few weeks as we all learn how to get the most out of the Porsche on this circuit."
The Lizards have one more ALMS race prior to Le Mans -- the Utah Grand Prix, May 19 at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more on the schedule, see www.lizardms.com.