The 13th Annual Petit Le Mans hit the 1000-mile mark at just over nine hours tonight: the No. 45 finished fifth in GT, and the No. 44 was ninth, clinching the 2010 ALMS drivers' championship for Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long in the No. 45....
The 13th Annual Petit Le Mans hit the 1000-mile mark at just over nine hours tonight: the No. 45 finished fifth in GT, and the No. 44 was ninth, clinching the 2010 ALMS drivers' championship for Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long in the No. 45. The No. 45 also took the 2010 Michelin GREEN X Challenge title.
The Lizards had a nearly problem-free race for both racecars, which avoided the numerous on track incidents that resulted in nine full course cautions over the race. In the No. 45, Patrick Long started the race eighth on the grid; in the No. 44 Darren Law started 14th. It was a clean start for the 41-car field, and the GT class was able to settle in quickly. Over the next several hours, the GT leaders shuffled positions, with both Risi Ferraris (the No. 61 and 62), both BMWs (the No. 92 and No. 90), both Corvettes (the No. 4 and No. 3) and both Extreme Ferraris (No. 01 and 02) all jockeying for the lead GT spots.
The Lizards cycled through their driver lineup: in the No. 45, first Patrick, then Joerg Bergmeister, then Marc Lieb. In the No. 44, first Darren Law, then Seth Neiman, then Marco Holzer. By the four-hour mark, nearing the end of the first round of driver stints, the No. 45 had climbed to fourth, and the No. 44 to eighth.
Through the remainder of the race, the GT group continued to re-sort through the many cautions, wave-bys, pit stops and restarts. By hour seven, the race had taken its toll, with only six GT cars on the lead lap. The No. 62 Ferrari was in the lead, the No. 4 Corvette in second, the No. 01 Extreme Ferrari in third, the No. 3 Corvette in fourth, the No. 92 fifth, and the No. 45 sixth. The No. 44 was ninth.
With less than an hour to go in the race, it was down to the wire on fuel for the GT leaders. The No. 45 was good to go on fuel through the end of the race, but was at the rear of the lead GT pack. The GT leaders cycled through rapid pit stops for fuel top ups, and in some cases, tires. With three laps to go, the No. 62 was in the lead, the No. 4 second, the No. 01 third, the No. 92 fourth and the No. 45 P5.
Just before the finish, the No. 62 ran out of fuel, ceding the win to the No. 4 Corvette. The No. 01 Extreme Sports Ferrari finished second, and the No. 62 third. The No. 45 was fifth, and the No. 44 ninth. The finish was enough to secure the drivers' championship title for Bergmeister and Long.
Seth Neiman, driver of the No. 44 Porsche and team principal, commented on 2010: "What an enormously satisfying season! If you had asked me at the beginning of the year if we were going to win a championship title, you'd have had to give me long odds. This year Porsche again provided us a great racecar and Michelin tires, but it was clear that at most of the races we could not win on pace. Instead, we had to rely on spectacular driving by Joerg and Patrick, and absolutely perfect pit work -- on both the No. 45 and the No. 44 -- that put us in a position to win and score points."
Joerg Bergmeister: "The season for me, in one word: unbelievable. It's not really a drivers' championship, it's a team championship, because without the guys in the pits and Porsche and Michelin we would not be where we are. The entire season we had such phenomenal pit work and so few technical problems: it was really a testament to the teamwork and preparation."
Patrick Long: "Pulling out the victories that we had this season only comes when every single person hits their mark from the start to the very end of the race weekend. I've never worked with a group like the Lizards that demonstrates such a common goal of victory but with mutual respect for one another. This year we all proved to ourselves that we can go up against the best and that we can win. I'm really proud to be part of the team and a small part of this huge success."
Darren Law: "For the No. 44, 2010 has been a very good year. We've had several good runs this year, starting from our fifth place finish at Sebring. At every race that we finished this year, we were in the top 10: that's no small feat in GT. At Petit, we got through without any issues - the team did a great job. I've been with the Lizards since the beginning and I can honestly say that this group of people is the best that it's ever been and I'm proud that I was able to be a part of it."
Marco Holzer: "It was a fantastic experience to run my first ever ALMS race with the Lizards. My teammates all did a great job today. I'm happy that we finished this difficult race, and for the No. 45 - congratulations to Joerg and Patrick on their well-earned championship."