#45 LIZARD PORSCHE WINS FIFTH STRAIGHT ALMS GT2, STRETCHING CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD; PICKETT/GRAF LMP2 RS SYPDER SURPRISES FIELD WITH SECOND PLACE FINISH
LEXINGTON, Ohio - August 8 - Setting an American Le Mans Series record for five GT2 class wins in a row, the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) expanded their championship lead to 37 points with a dramatic class win at the Acura Sports Car Challenge today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
And, to add icing on the cake for all Porsche enthusiasts, the new Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder, with Klaus Graf (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA) at the helm, scored a surprise second-place finish in the LMP2 class, narrowly missing a class win.
In the GT2 tussle, there was extra excitement in addition to the normal BMW, Ford, Ferrari and Panoz competition as the Corvette factory team debuted their new cars in the class as well. Although Long and Bergmeister led all but one lap (they lost the lead in the shuffle of pit stops), the drive was anything by easy, according to Bergmeister, who started the Porsche.
"During my stint, I was hit by a Challenge car, and cracked a rear wheel, but was lucky the Michelin tire did not deflate. Then, a car lost an engine in front of me, and I got oil all over my windscreen. But Patrick did a great job - one hour, 20 minutes to the end without a fuel stop! There is no resting - even with a lead with the Corvettes, BMWs, and Ferraris chasing you," said Bergmeister.
The victory was cemented, however, by a call from Lizard strategist Thomas Blam, who determined that Patrick could save track position by not coming in for fuel during the last yellow flag, gambling that he could make it to the end.
"There were many close calls in the last hour and 20 minutes of the race, including some spins from the Challenge cars, but the fuel call was the key. My fuel light came on during the final lap, but I was confident that Thomas and the crew had made the right call not having me come in for a splash at the end. It was the difference that gave us the win. Our clutch was going away, so I shifted most of my stint without a clutch to make sure we had pressure at the end, but the transmission took the wear and tear - a testament to the strength of our components. Winning five in a row is especially sweet with all the competition from the other factory teams," said Long, the only American Porsche factory driver.
The victory gave them 120 points, while the Kaffer/Melo Ferrari finished fifth (now with 83 points). Porsche now leads Ferrari in the manufacturers' points by that same 37-point margin. The Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Martin Ragginger (Austria) Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 RSR finished less than a second behind the Ferrari in sixth, while Darren Law/Seth Neiman (both USA) Flying Lizard Porsche was ninth.
In LMP2, Pickett and Graf were fast from the very first test session on Thursday, and gave the factory Acuras and Mazdas all they could handle. An unlucky positioning of the pace car during the last yellow flag cost the RS Spyder a full lap to the winning Acura, and yet Graf finished in second place by only ten seconds after passing both Mazdas during the event.
"I had such a good time out there. I kept pushing and pushing. Right from the beginning they told me you got to keep pushing and pushing. And he kept telling me every five laps, Klaus, you got to keep pushing. That's what I did the whole race. The Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder was very, very good in the race. We made the right changes and I really have to thank Greg Pickett for making the decision to buy the car, making the changes to the team in order to run it the way we run it. Hats off to all the guys on the team; that was unbelievable. I couldn't be happier. I had a really good day," said Graf, former NASCAR driver and SCCA Trans-Am champion.
"Obviously we are very pleased. I'm pleased for Porsche, I'm pleased for Michelin, I'm pleased for our brand Muscle Milk and all of our employees and friends and family and fans of both the brand and Porsche. I'm almost speechless which is a little bit rare for me. Klaus did a spectacular job. He ran many, many laps as fast or faster than the leaders." said Pickett.