No. 44 7th; Fourth Win in a Row for the No. 45
It’s four in a row for the Flying Lizard squad as Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took the GT2 win in the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche at today’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock. The No. 44 of Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman finished seventh. The No. 45 also won the Michelin® Green X® Challenge, which is presented to the car which demonstrates the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact.
This is Joerg’s fourth win in a row at Lime Rock, the last three of which were with Flying Lizard. It is Patrick’s second win at Lime Rock and his 13th ALMS career win. Together, the duo has won four consecutive ALMS races (of five): St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Utah, and now Lime Rock.
It was a clean race for both Lizard Porsches. In the No. 45, Patrick Long started second on the GT2 grid, behind Pierre Kaffer in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari, who started on the pole. Seth Neiman in the No. 44 started tenth. For the first 20 minutes, Patrick kept pressure on the No. 62, but was not able to get by him. The lead GT2 pack (the No. 62, No. 45, and both BMWs) was bunched closely together as they weaved through the slower IMSA Challenge cars while dealing with the faster prototypes.
20 minutes into the race, Patrick passed the No. 62 to take the lead. The No. 45 never looked back, keeping the lead through two pit stops to the checkered.
‘Lime Rock made us all earn our paychecks today,’ said Patrick. ‘It was a tough environment out there – so much traffic. In some of those corners it’s almost impossible to even look in your mirrors to see what’s coming, not to mention what’s in front of you. At race start, I knew I had a racecar which could win the race, and had the power to pull away from the field. Starting second, I had to pick my time to make a move because the traffic was so difficult. Pierre was fighting hard and made it very tough but I was able to get by to take the lead.’
The No. 45 pitted early in the GT2 field, taking advantage of the first caution to pit for fuel, tires and driver change. They came in behind the overall leader, and did a short fuel to get out before the overall leader left the pits. With the lengthy yellow, the No. 45 had time to come in again into the pits for a second top up, and still retained the lead. Once the race went green, Joerg now had a 20 second gap to the No. 62, with Jaime Melo now behind the wheel.
‘When I got in the car, my job was to manage that gap to Jamie. He was pushing really hard so I couldn’t rest too much. It was such a constant fight with traffic and everything you had to be extremely careful out there.’ The GT2 cars needed one final stop for fuel. Risi pitted before the Lizards, taking fuel but no tires. Joerg pitted shortly after, under green, for fuel and tires. On their way out of the pits, Risi received a stop and go penalty for speeding in pit lane, sending them back in tthe pits for a stop and go penalty. With the gap to the No. 62 now at 30 seconds, Joerg finished out the stint without any problems, to take the GT2 win. The No. 62 finished second.
‘After Risi’s penalty, I was now 30 seconds ahead of Jamie so I had some breathing room. I had new tires and low fuel so the car was pretty hooked up – I was having fun and I did the fastest lap of the race in that final stint. But I had to take it a little easy at the end to conserve fuel. Thanks to the crew and engineers for putting together a really good racecar today. Four in a row!’
In the No. 44 Porsche, Seth started tenth on the GT2 grid, having a nearly incident-free stint. He was nearing the end of his 1.5 hour stint when he was bumped by a prototype, but the damage was minimal and he finished out his stint before handing the wheel over to Johannes van Overbeek. Johannes was also able to stay out of trouble, focusing on reeling in the GT2 cars that were in his sights. Over the next hour and with the advantage of not needing a second pit stop for fuel, he moved up three positions to finish seventh in class. ‘It was really a fun race today. The tight corners here made for some really aggressive moves – I’m guessing a lot of body shops will be pretty busy as a result!’
Up next for the Lizards is Mid-Ohio on August 8.