Braselton, GA. – The Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 Porsches finished a difficult Petit Le Mans fifth and seventh in GT, respectively. The caution-filled 1000-mile race ran to nine hours and thirty-eight minutes. Joerg Bergmeister started the No. 45 sixth on the GT grid and Marco Holzer eighth in the No. 44. The first hour of the race was uneventful as Bergmeister and Holzer stayed with the GT leaders, pitting in third and fifth for their first pit stops. Holzer handed the wheel over to Seth Neiman, and Bergmeister to Patrick Long.
Just before the three hour mark, Long was in P3 in the No. 45 when he pitted for driver change to Patrick Pilet, tires and fuel. At three hours, the No. 01 ESM Ferrari, which had started from the pole, was in P1, with the No. 4 and No. 3 Corvettes in P2 and 3, the No. 45 in P4 and the No. 44 in P5. 30 minutes later, Tandy, still in P5, pitted for a driver change to Marco Holzer. 15 minutes later, Patrick Pilet pitted for driver change back to Bergmeister. The No. 45 was now in P3.
Approaching four hours, after several more yellows, the No. 4 Corvette was in the lead, with the No. 01 in P2, the No. 45 in P3, the No. 3 Corvette in P4, the No. 55 BMW in P5 and the No. 44 in P6. Four hours in, the Lizards luck began to turn. First, Bergmeister went off course and had to pit for a clean-up. He was back on track quickly but now in P4. Shortly after, as he worked to pass a slower Ferrari, he went over the curbs and off course again and the two cars made contact as he rejoined. Race control gave him a penalty for unavoidable contact and Bergmeister pitted to serve a stop plus sixty second penalty. Back on track, he was P5, but now one lap down. The No. 44, with Seth Neiman behind the wheel, was P7. Shortly after the No. 45 served its penalty, disaster struck again when the No. 44 was forced off course and embedded into the gravel trap. After a tow and a trip to the pits, the No. 44 was P11, now with Nick Tandy at the wheel.
Meanwhile, the GT leader, the No. 4 Corvette, had a problem, sending him into pit lane and then behind the wall for repairs. This cleared the way for the No. 3 Corvette to move into the lead, followed by the No. 01 Ferrari in P2, the No. 55 BMW in P3, and the No. 45 in p4.
Over the remaining four hours of the race, both Lizard Porsches cycled through their drivers, with the No. 45 holding P4 and the No. 44 gradually moving up to P7. The lead GT pack of the No. 01, No. 3, and No. 55 shuffled positions through multiple cautions and pit stops. With 15 minutes left to go, Patrick Pilet was in the No. 45 in P4, focused on conserving fuel, and on the same lap as the No. 55 BMW in P3. The No. 01 was in the lead, with the No. 3 in P2. The Lizards had their sights set on a fourth place finish for the No. 45 when Pilet radioed in that he had a strong vibration and slowed significantly to keep the car on track. He was able to finish the race with a broken suspension, losing one position at the end to the No. 56 BMW. The No. 45 had to settle for fifth, and the No. 44 seventh.
Patrick Pilet commented on the race, "It was a really tough race. The suspension was damaged during the contact with the Ferrari halfway through the race. By my last stint, the car was nearly undrivable with a broken front left upright. I couldn't brake and instead had to downshift and use the engine to brake. But I was able to stay out and finish the race and only lost one position at the end. It was disappointing end for all of us - I had hoped to be able to finish on the podium for all of the hard work that the team had put into this race. Thank you to all of the Lizards: I hope to be back again soon to race here in the U.S."
Marco Holzer added, "That was a very difficult race for the No. 44. We had a fast car but had some really bad luck halfway through the race and lost several laps. But we kept pushing and the crew put in some incredible pit stops and we were able to make our way back to P7. Running this season with the Lizards has been a great experience - thank you to the whole team, especially the 44 guys, for everything you did this year."
Source: Flying Lizard Motorsports