Flying Lizard Returns to Florida for ALMS Round 2: Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg March 30, 2009 -- Flying Lizard Motorsports returns to Florida this week for the second race of the American Le Mans Series season, the Acura Sports Car ...
Flying Lizard Returns to Florida for ALMS Round 2: Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg
March 30, 2009 -- Flying Lizard Motorsports returns to Florida this week for the second race of the American Le Mans Series season, the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. Following close on the heels of the season-opener, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the St. Petersburg event is a short, 1 hour and 55 minute race held on a 1.8 mile, 14-turn temporary street course established in downtown.
"The two races are about as different from one other as you can get," said Flying Lizard team manager Eric Ingraham. "Going from twelve hours and 10 pit stops on a road course to 2 hours and 1 pit stop on city streets is a major shift for the drivers, the engineers, and the crew. And it's a tough environment to navigate: lots of bumps, a rough track surface and no runoff so there's very little room for error."
Thomas Blam, Lizard chief strategist, commented, "Add a competitive GT2 field and few passing opportunities and it stacks up to a tough race. At Sebring, we saw the newer GT2 cars now starting to show speeds comparable to the GT2 leaders. By St. Pete, I'm sure the BMWs will have sorted out the issues that sidelined them at Sebring, and with Panoz showing a lot of strength along with the typical strong runs of the Ferraris and the other Porsche teams, it should be a strong and deep GT2 field. And Porsches have done well here in the past-Flying Lizard was on the pole here in 2008. We showed strong pace at Sebring with both cars but we have some work to do to make up points and we have to start working on that now. In terms of strategy, we'll have only one planned pit stop and driver change here. It's very difficult to make up lost time in a short race: we have to operate at 100 percent every second of the event."
After a challenging race at Sebring, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the No. 45 and No. 44, the team is in fourth place in the ALMS GT2 team championship, and No. 45 drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long are fourth in the drivers' championship and Darren Law, Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman of the No. 44 are fifth.
The Flying Lizard driver lineup for St. Petersburg will be Bergmeister and Long in the No. 45 Porsche and Law and Neiman in the No. 44 Porsche. Long added, "Coming off of Sebring, it was great to finish up strong after a lot of adversity. Straight after the race, seeing the team work so hard to map out repair and preparation for both cars for St. Pete was inspiring and reminded me why I enjoy working with the Lizards so much. This crew is so focused and driven."
Long drove a Porsche prototype for the 2008 ALMS season; he has adjusted quickly to being back in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. "A street course can be a good equalizer among teams and classes of cars. The different classes of cars handle very differently, obviously. But a street course, with its low grip corners (versus the fast straights and high speed corners of a road course) is probably the closest the prototype and GT classes will come to each other in terms of driving style and line. A street course also picks up grip over the weekend and changes frequently depending on who has been on track so setup here is a moving target. And of course, it's a temporary course so no one can claim a home court advantage. For me personally, street courses have always been a strong point so I'm looking forward to racing here. I recently relocated to the Tampa area, so it's nice to be close to home. St. Pete has a great ambience, racing around the harbor; an American version of racing at Monaco."
Follow the Race The Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Pete will get the green flag on April 4 at 1:20 pm ET.