Flying Lizard Ready for ALMS Round Four at Miller Motorsports Park May 7, 2009 -- Sonoma, Calif. -- Up next for the Lizards is the Utah Grand Prix, which gets the green flag at 2:15 MT on Sunday May 17 at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake...
Flying Lizard Ready for ALMS Round Four at Miller Motorsports Park
May 7, 2009 -- Sonoma, Calif. -- Up next for the Lizards is the Utah Grand Prix, which gets the green flag at 2:15 MT on Sunday May 17 at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah. Following two street courses in a row, the Utah Grand Prix is a welcome return to a conventional road course for the team: a 2 hour and 45 minute race on a 3.048 mile, 15-turn circuit.
Heading into the fourth of ten ALMS races this season, Flying Lizard, fielding two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, is currently leading in the GT2 team championship. The driver lineup for the Utah Grand Prix will be Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long in the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche and Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 44 Porsche. Following two wins in a row at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, Bergmeister and Long are currently leading in the GT2 drivers' championship. Neiman is currently in fourth in the drivers points chase.
Bergmeister is looking forward to being back on a road course, "I really like racing at Miller: it's fast, a real road course, and pretty smooth. Lots of fast corners, which are fun. The Lizards had a very successful race here last year -- the pole, a win for the No. 45 and a double podium -- hopefully we can repeat that success again this year."
van Overbeek joins Neiman in the No. 44 for his second race of the season. He added, "It will be great to be back on track again, it's been a while since Sebring in March. The team had a good test here at Miller in late April and I think we've really learned a lot since Sebring about what the 2009 Porsches need from us in terms of setup."
Flying Lizard chief engineer Craig Watkins will build on information from the test for car setup at the first session on Friday. "Miller is a fast track with long turns, and a good mix of right and left hand turns. The combination of a long-distance track with long-duration turns puts unusually high loads and temperatures into the tires. The longer you are in the turn, the more heat is generated in the tire. In Turns 1, 2, 3, and 7 the car is in the turn for several seconds each. The trick is to coordinate the camber and spring rate settings very carefully to give the car the stability that it needs without being too tough on the tires, while making sure that you have a good balance between top speed and adequate downforce. The altitude complicates the process: the engine makes less power, yet you still need adequate downforce so you have to be fairly aggressive with the aero settings. It's a delicate balance."
At the Utah Grand Prix, a new class will be added to the ALMS race. Named the "challenge class", it consists of a select number of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars chosen from the ALMS GT3 support series. Flying Lizard Chief strategist Thomas Blam commented, "Having another class on track will mean a bit of adjustment for the drivers. The aerodynamics on the Cup cars make them very quick on the straightaways. On a long track like Miller, the GT2 cars should be able to get by them but we should expect the Cup cars to give us a bit of a run in the straights."
Blam discussed strategy for the standard 2 hour and 45 minute race format: "This should be a two-stop race. Fuel mileage is good here because of the altitude: there's not as much air in the motors and the cars don't use as much fuel. If we had enough cautions, we could do it in one stop, but because of the structure of the track -- very open with few guard rails -- we've historically had few cautions here."
The Utah Grand Prix will be the team's last race in the U.S. before heading to France for the 24 Heures du Mans, June 13-14, at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. Bergmeister will join Neiman and Darren Law (who is trading off driving duties in the No. 44 Porsche for the 2009 season with van Overbeek) for the Lizard's fifth consecutive race at Le Mans. "Utah is our last chance on track before our first practice for Le Mans so it will be a good opportunity to make sure we have everything completely buttoned up for that event."