Lizards Fifth and Seventh at Steamy Baltimore Street Race
ALMS - Baltimore, MD
With nearly one-quarter of the Baltimore street race run under caution, the finishing order was effectively determined early in today's two-hour Sports Car Challenge. The No. 45 finished fifth in GT (and eighth overall) and the No. 44 seventh in GT (eleventh overall).
A pile-up on the first lap in Turn 1 brought flashbacks of the 2011 race, and resulted in the first of the three lengthy race cautions. Starting fourth on the GT grid in the No. 45 Porsche - in extremely hot and humid conditions - Patrick Long was hit at the start and pushed back to P6. Meanwhile, Marco Holzer had started from pit lane in the No. 44. Regular driver Seth Neiman was not able to drive after injuring his arm in morning warmup. Patrick Long was slotted in as the second driver: doing double duty driving both Lizard cars during the race. Because the starting driver had changed, No. 44 started from pit lane. And because the car was starting from pit lane, they were given a stop and go penalty. Holzer served his penalty after the first caution and then settled into P9.
Just after race start, the No. 4 Corvette was in the lead, the No. 48 Paul Miller Porsche was in second, the No. 55 BMW P3, the No. 17 Falken Porsche P4 and the No. 01 Extreme Ferrari P5, with the No. 45 in P6. Twenty minutes into the race, the No. 55, No. 17 and No. 01 were able to get by the No. 4 Corvette in traffic. When the No. 55 received a stop and go penalty for an incident with the No. 11 Porsche, the No. 17 took the lead and held it for the remainder of the race.
45 minutes into the race, the No. 44 had a tire puncture, sending Holzer into the pits under green for an unscheduled stop for new tires and a fuel top up. Just before the race half-way point, Joerg Bergmeister took over from Long in the No. 45 and settled back into P5 after the GT field completed its scheduled stops. With 45 minutes to go, Holzer pitted in the No. 44, and Long got in the racecar for his second race stint--this time in the No. 44--filling in for Neiman.
Over the final hour of the race, the lead GT group remained unchanged: the No. 17 in the lead, the No. 4 P2, the No. 01 P3, the No. 56 P4 and the No. 45 P5. In the No. 44, Long was able to gain two positions to move from ninth to seventh. The final race caution cut the green running time to just over five minutes: not enough for anyone to pass on the narrow circuit. The Lizards had to settle for fifth in the No. 45 and seventh in the No. 44.
Bergmeister said, "The race was set from the beginning. Patrick got a hard hit at the start, and we struggled with the pace after that. There are so few passing opportunities here and so many cautions that there wasn't a chance for anyone to break away. This street course is a tough one for sure, I'm looking forward to being back to our regular road courses at VIR. See you all in two weeks."
Holzer commented: "It was tough to start this race from the pits, and then we had to come in and serve a stop and go penalty. But we stayed on the lead lap the whole time, even after the tire puncture sent me back to the pits under green. It was a long stint for me but the car was solid and Patrick was able to gain two more positions in his stint so I think seventh was a good result for this race."
Up next for the Lizards is Virginia International Raceway, September 15.
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Flying Lizard returns to the American Le Mans Series for their ninth season and the fourth consecutive season for Bergmeister and Long together in the No. 45. The Lizards have won two ALMS GT team championships (2008 and 2009) and have finished in the top three each year since 2004. The team has secured three ALMS GT drivers' championships: Bergmeister and Long took the title together in 2009 and 2010 and Bergmeister with Wolf Henzler in 2008. Bergmeister is five-time ALMS GT drivers' champion (2005-2006 and 2008-2010) and Long has won the title three times (2005, and 2009-2010), all with Bergmeister. Bergmeister is the only driver in Grand-Am and ALMS history to win the championship in both series in the same year (2006).
Flying Lizard has also competed in the 24 Heures du Mans from 2005 through 2012, finishing third in 2005, fourth in 2006, sixth in 2008, sixth in 2011, and fourth The privateer team is based in Sonoma, California.
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