First win of 2012 for Bergmeister and Long
Ferrari in P1 and the No. 17 Falken Porsche in P2. The No. 44 started in tenth, with Marco Holzer behind the wheel. An early race full-course yellow gave both Lizards an opportunity to pit for a fuel top up under yellow. Patrick was still P3, with Marco now up to P7 in the No. 44 at the time of the pit stop.
After the fuel stop, Patrick was now P4. The No. 02 was P1 and the No. 17 was P2: neither car had pitted during the previous yellow. The No. 3 Corvette was P3. On the next restart, Long was able to get by the Corvette to take P3. Shortly after the No. 17 fell back with a tire puncture and Patrick moved to P2. Nearing the end of Patrick's sting stint, the No. 02 finally pitted, and Patrick took the GT lead.
Long explained, "I feel like a huge weight fell of our backs today. When there are long gaps between victories it makes a win that much sweeter, and today is no exception. From the drop of the green, everyone on the team hit their marks: that's tough to do at Lime Rock. Our strategist Thomas Blam's call to pit for fuel only during the early yellow and then run for more than a complete stint on one set of tires proved to be the right call. It was tough to hang on at the end my stint but I was determined to turn it over to Joerg in P1."
Just past the 90-minute mark, Long pitted, still in P1, for tires, fuel and driver change to Joerg Bergmeister. Bergmeister headed out with the No. 01 ESM Ferrari now in the lead, and the No. 3 and 4 Corvettes close behind Joerg, in P3 and P4, respectively. The No. 01 pitted for fuel, but did not make it out of the pits in front of Joerg on track, and Bergmeister took the GT lead again. Over the next hour, Bergmeister held off both Corvettes and the No. 02 Ferrari through several full course cautions and restarts as the four cars ran nearly nose to tail. With ten minutes left to go in the race, a final full course caution finished the race under yellow, with Bergmeister taking the win, and No. 3 and 4 Corvettes P2 and P3.
Bergmeister added, "Finally, a flawless race for the No. 45! It's really good to be back on the podium. The team did an incredible job. Patrick made it easy for me: he turned the car over in P1 and I just had to maintain the lead and drive it home. Michelin gave us a great tire – many of the cars had tire issues today and we were able to complete the race on two sets of tires with no problems."
Meanwhile, the No. 44 had cycled through its driver lineup as Holzer turned the wheel over to Seth Neiman early in the race, then took over again just past the one-hour mark. Holzer had an uneventful final stint and finished ninth in class.
Team principal Neiman summed things up, "After all of the issues we had last month at Le Mans, and seeing the way that the team came together at that grueling event, I had a feeling that when we returned to the ALMS we would regain our form. I am so proud of the crew, the support by our partners, and of course the awesome drives by Joerg, Patrick, and Marco. Now we need to keep this momentum going forward; it will be a long and certainly very exciting summer of GT racing."
Source: Flying Lizard Motorsports