The GT2 class is going to be insane in 2009! Period.
Flying Lizard Motorsports, the 2008 American Le Mans Series GT2 team champions, completed a successful three-day test at Sebring this week. The team launched their new 2009 Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs during the American Le Mans Series Winter Test, in preparation for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, to be held on March 21.
The team will field two Porsches – the No. 44 and the No. 45 – in the 10-race ALMS season. ALMS GT2 2008 driver’s champion Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) are teaming in the No. 45 Porsche for the 2009 season. In the No. 44, pilots Seth Neiman (USA), Darren Law (USA), and Johannes van Overbeek (USA) will share driving duties. All five drivers attended the test this week. Bergmeister, Long, Law and van Overbeek all arrived in Sebring Monday morning after driving a collective 20 hours at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Law won overall in the DP class with Brumos Racing and Bergmeister and Long won GT with TRG.
Flying Lizard Engineering Perspective
Crew chief and co-technical director Tommy Sadler said, “We definitely met our objectives for the test. We received the new cars a week ago from the Porsche factory in Weissach, Germany. The cars were well prepared so we were able to get them ready in just three days for their first run here in the U.S. We ran incident-free all week: no mechanical issues and everyone stayed on the track. And we had warm dry weather. Everything came together perfectly.”
In the No. 45, Joerg Bergmeister clocked the fastest GT2 lap time of the eight sessions: a 2:01.866 on the 3.7 mile course. Chief Engineer Craig Watkins, who oversees the Flying Lizard development program, ran the No. 46 setup at the test. He added, “We were really happy with our progress. We were not here to set fast times; but the fact that we were only a second off of last year’s fastest GT2 time, even with the additional GT2 restrictions*, shows a lot of promise for the performance of the new cars. Of course, because of the added weight, we made Joerg, Patrick and Darren take off their new Daytona Rolexes before getting in the car.”
Watkins continued, “This test gave us a good head start on setup for the Sebring race. Porsche made numerous aerodynamic changes this year (which give a lot more downforce in the front), and the cars respond very differently. We’re running the same transmission as 2008 but with the new air conditioning components. We focused on dialing in our shocks and our suspension settings.”
No. 45 engineer and co-technical director Stefan Pfeiffer added, “An important goal of this test was to get the drivers familiar with the new cars and tires. In the No. 45, we did a lengthy tire test, comparing the 2008 and 2009 Michelin tires, which helps us understand what the new car needs to get the most out of the new tires.”
Flying Lizard Driver Notes
Patrick Long, driver No. 45 Porsche: “It was an extremely productive three days. The balance of the new 911 RSR is quite different from the previous generation: it’s all about running through the ranges of adjustments available. It’s great working with this engineering team and crew. I believe the working relationship between the two cars is going to prove to be ultra-efficient in developing the cars and establishing setups through the season.
Darren Law driver No. 44 Porsche: “It’s great to be back with the Lizards. We are all pleased with the performance of the cars: our times were competitive and we got a lot of valuable information. I’m really looking forward to Sebring – last year, we had a double podium with the No. 44 finishing second. For the No. 44 guys, we’d like to better that by one position this year!”
Johannes van Overbeek: “It was great to experience the new car. It’s what you would expect a new Porsche race car to be. The new air conditioning is a nice addition which should make driving at hotter events much more comfortable. The test helped us understand a lot more about the new cars and now we have to go home and work through things before we get back on track.”
* 2009 regulations mandate a maximum car cockpit temperature and the 2009 Porsche has been redesigned to support an air conditioning system. Other regulation changes require that the Porsches run 20 kilograms heavier than 2008; a minimum 15 mm gurney (wicker); and a 5 mm higher ride height than 08.