HALLIDAY AND INTERSPORT END THE SEASON ON A HIGH Liz Halliday and the Intersport Racing team secured a fantastic second overall in the LMP2 Driver's Championship of the American Le Mans Series this weekend, with a podium finish in the tenth and...
HALLIDAY AND INTERSPORT END THE SEASON ON A HIGH
Liz Halliday and the Intersport Racing team secured a fantastic second overall in the LMP2 Driver's Championship of the American Le Mans Series this weekend, with a podium finish in the tenth and final round of the season at Laguna Seca, California.
Halliday and co-driver Clint Field's championship position is even more impressive for the fact that they have finished ahead of two of their four arch rivals from the factory Porsche team, despite many observers writing off their chances as soon as Porsche announced their plans towards the end of 2005.
To achieve success in the face of such adversity illustrates perfectly the character of the little Intersport team, a private, family-owned operation based in Ohio. Throughout the season they have fought hard to maintain intense pressure on their Porsche rivals, seeking to exploit any sign of weakness. Reliability was one such area in which Porsche struggled early on in the season and Intersport capitalised beautifully, being sure to finish races where their rivals faltered. It was at this early stage of the year that Intersport built the foundation to their championship assault, and made defending champion Clint Field hungry to seal a second title, and Liz herself looking to record her first.
Inevitably however, Porsche soon found the reliability to match their speed, and finally the mighty RS-Spyders were able to exploit their inherent pace advantage. Yesterday's race in Laguna Seca summed up much of the second half of the season, with Intersport feistily refusing to give up, proving themselves absolutely the 'best of the rest' as the German steamroller continued.
Jon Field took the start for Intersport, impressively holding station in third place as the Goodyear tyres on the Lola-AER struggled for grip on the dusty circuit. Jon's son Clint then took over, continuing the faultless run before handing to Halliday on lap 65. Despite the increasingly eventful race being peppered by a multitude of accidents and crashes, Liz performed impressively, lapping quickly and consistently, maintaining third place with a quality run.
On lap 80 a 'full course yellow' forced the team to review their strategy and Liz was called into the pits for a driver-change, fuel and new tyres. Such is the advantage of pitting during a safety-period that the sacrifice to Halliday's remaining run was very much in the team's overall interest.
With Jon Field now back at the wheel, the charge continued for the #37 car, again unabated until Clint was handed the reins for a final clean run to the flag. With four hours complete, Intersport finished 12th overall, 3rd in class.
Summing up her weekend, Liz said: "It's not a bad way to end the year. Although we always race for the win, it's great to be on the podium here today -- especially with the class having become super competitive with the arrival of more Radical chassis and so on. We're proud to be 'best of the rest'. I didn't get too much time in the car today but I think the strategy was right. We had planned all along to switch drivers under yellow and this is exactly what we did. It paid off and helped us to secure third place in the race and second in the championship, so we're ending the year on a good note.
"This has been a very educational season and I have learned a lot. I would like to thank Clint, Jon and the entire team for a great year and my first full ALMS championship. We led the championship ahead of the two Porsches for the first six races of the season and this says how competitive the team is. When a one-car, small privateer team can get on top of a two-car, factory outfit like Porsche, it's a great credit to the mechanics, their preparation of the car and its faultless reliability. The boys really deserve this result and I'm very happy for them. It is a shame that Clint couldn't retain his LMP2 title and that I couldn't secure my first one, but it is a well fought second place. On the podium, we had the Penske Porsche drivers saying to us that we scared them all season and they were relieved the season was now over! This is the best compliment we could get!"
Team owner and co-driver to Liz, Clint Field added: "Liz drove a strong race today and this is fantastic for the team to end the season on a high. It would have been great to win the Drivers' championship for the second season in a row and help Liz secure her first championship but we knew it would be a tall order against Porsche. As a team, we did the best that we could since Sebring in March and I feel we can be proud of what we achieved. I cannot wait for 2007 which will be an even more competitive season!"