No. 45 Fourth and No. 44 Ninth in Road America Thriller
ALMS Elkhart Lake, WI
In one of the most exciting ALMS races to date, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long battled the GT BMWs, Corvettes, and Ferraris over four hours at Road America to bring the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche home fourth in class. In the No. 44 (Seth Neiman and Marco Holzer), with less than five minutes left in the race, Holzer was in seventh with sights on sixth when a suspension problem forced him to slow on course for the final three laps. The No. 44 finished ninth. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari won in GT: their first win of the season.
The race took a dramatic tone from the start as the 36-car, 5-class field jockeyed for position, running three-wide in a densely packed group. Joerg Bergmeister started fifth on the grid in the No. 45 and Marco Holzer ninth in the No. 44. The No. 56 BMW was on the pole, the No. 62 Ferrari P2 and the No. 4 Corvette P3.
Both Lizard Porsches held their positions at the start, and by the one-hour mark, Bergmeister had moved to P4, when he turned the wheel over to Patrick Long. The No. 4 Corvette was in the lead, the No. 62 Ferrari in P2 and the No. 56 BMW in P3. In the No. 44, Holzer was P10. 90 minutes in, following the second caution of the race, the GT field had completed their first round of pit stops and the No. 56 BMW was back in the lead, the No. 62 P2 and the No. 4 P3. Long held P4 and Holzer P10.
Over the next hour, the GT leaders continued to shuffle. By the three-hour mark, Long, who double-stinted, had moved up to P3, and the GT leaders re-sorted again after yet another full course caution and pit stop round. The No. 62 Ferrari was now in the lead, the No. 56 BMW in P2 and the No. 4 Corvette in P4. After a 20-minute battle for position, the No. 4 Corvette overtook Long to take P3. Holzer had turned the No. 44 over to Neiman, who kept the Porsche on the lead lap and finished his stint in P8.
With about 40 minutes to go, both Lizard Porsches pitted together for final driver changes back to Bergmeister and Holzer. 20 minutes later, the No. 62 Ferrari was P1, the No. 55 BMW P2 and the No. 45 P3. The No. 56 BMW was P4 and the No. 4 Corvette P5. Holzer had moved to P7.
Over the next 10 minutes, Joerg fought to hold off the No. 56, but finally the BMW overtook to take P3, edging the Lizards out of a podium spot. Joerg said, "The guys did an awesome job today: great teamwork on pit stops and strategy. My second stint was really fun: I pushed every lap like it was a qualifying run. Unfortunately at the end the BMW passed me on the straightaway. I fought hard but there just wasn't anything that I could do."
Meanwhile, in the No. 44, nearing race end, Holzer was in P7 and closing in on the No. 17 Falken for position. With just five minutes to go, a suspension problem forced him to slow on course and cost him two positions. The No. 44 finished ninth. Holzer explained, "At race start I was really fighting with the car. Then we made a setup change at my first pit stop and after that things were much better. I pushed so hard in my first stint and made some progress; we had a fast car on pace with the GT leaders. Seth did a great job: he was quick and we stayed on the lead lap. In my second stint, at the green restart, I knew the GT cars in front of me were for position. I caught two of them and was aiming for the No. 17 when, suddenly in Turn 6, I had a problem in the front right. It was a struggle to bring the car to the checkered and we lost two positions at the end."
Long added, "The team executed perfectly today. We've run a lot of races performing just like we did over the last four hours. We didn't have what we needed for a podium, but we beat a lot of cars that had faster lap times and we delivered 100 percent--I'm very proud of our result."
Up next for the Lizards is the second street course of the season at Baltimore, September 3.
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Flying Lizard Motorsports has competed in the American Le Mans Series GT class since 2004. The team has finished in the top three in the ALMS GT drivers' and team championships every year since 2004. In 2010, Flying Lizard No. 45 drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long won a hard-fought battle for the GT drivers' championship. In 2009 and 2008, the team swept all ALMS GT titles: drivers' championship (Bergmeister and Long in 2009, Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler in 2008); Flying Lizard won the team championship; and Porsche won the manufacturer championship. In 2009, the Flying Lizard No. 44 Porsche also won the Michelin Green X Challenge championship.
Flying Lizard has also competed in the 24 Heures du Mans from 2005 through 2011, finishing third in 2005, fourth in 2006, sixth in 2008, and sixth in 2011.
The team is sponsored in the ALMS by Openwave Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: OPWV), a global software innovator delivering context-aware mediation and messaging solutions for communication service providers and eSilicon, a semiconductor company.
Visit the team website at www.lizardms.com.
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