Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche Wins GT2 at St. Pete; No. 44 Fifth; Takes Driver and Team Championship Points Lead April 4, 2009 -- The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took the win in GT2 today at the Acura Sports...
Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche Wins GT2 at St. Pete; No. 44 Fifth; Takes Driver and Team Championship Points Lead
April 4, 2009 -- The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took the win in GT2 today at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, finishing two laps ahead of the next closest GT2 car. The No. 44 Porsche of Darren Law and Seth Neiman finished fifth, having climbed through the GT2 pack from eleventh on the grid.
The Lizards had expected a tough race, with an eleven car GT2 field, and a high consequence street course that left no room for error. Remarkably, there were few incidents during the race and only one full course caution, but it was a race of attrition, with four GT2 entries retired before race end.
It was a clean race start for the field however, with the No. 62 in the lead, the No. 90 Rahal Letterman BMW in second and the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche in third, and the No. 92 BMW in fourth. Patrick Long started fifth on the grid in the No. 45 and Seth Neiman started eleventh in the No. 44. Patrick passed the No. 92 BMW early on, moving into fourth and the No. 87 and No. 90 traded positions, moving the No. 87 into second. Now trapped between the two BMWs, Patrick worked to defend against the No. 92 while looking for an opportunity to pass the No. 90. While he negotiated the BMWs, the gap widened between the group and the GT2 leaders, the No. 62 and the No. 87. Fifteen minutes into the race, Patrick was able to pass the No. 90, moving into third. Meanwhile, the No. 87 had passed the No. 62 to take the lead.
Nearing the 40 minute mark of the 1 hour and 55 minute race, a chain of problems hit the GT2 field. Patrick was in third, the No. 62 Risi Ferrari was in second and the No. 87 was in the lead, when the No. 62 slowed on course then pitted after just 27 laps, never rejoining the race. With Patrick now in second, he was battling slower GT2 traffic and working to reel in the No. 87. The No. 87 began to slow and then pitted unexpectedly, where the car remained for a lengthy pit stop. Patrick took the lead at the fifty minute mark, handing the wheel over to Joerg Bergmeister, who finished his stint two laps ahead of the next nearest GT2 car.
Meanwhile, Darren Law had taken over for Seth Neiman in the No. 44, now in ninth place. Over the remaining hour, Darren was able to thread through the GT2 field to finish fifth.
Patrick commented, "As wild as that stint was for me, it was the most fun that you can have in racing: you are the hunter and not the hunted. It's a testament to the team's pit work, strategy and engineering: we didn't qualify where we wanted, but the car was very strong for the race. The toughest thing for me as a driver was staying patient: I needed to get through the BMWs, then knowing that Wolf was up front and that we had a car that could run with them. That's what endurance racing is about: channeling your aggression, knowing when to push and when to be patient."
Law added, "We started at the back, but the team prepared a really good car and we were able to work our way up to finish fifth. I felt like we had a podium-finishing car, we were turning the same lap times as the leaders throughout the race. I'm happy to come home with a top 5. I'm looking forward to Long Beach; it's another street course, so we should be able to apply what we learned here at St. Pete. It takes a big toll on the cars to run these street courses - the fact that both Lizards finished nearly scratch free and moved into the points lead was overall a great result."