Seamless pit work and two late race passes secured the GT win today for the Flying Lizard No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long at Long Beach; a repeat for the duo, who won this race in 2009. The No. 44 was retired at the halfway point due to mechanical issues. The No. 45 Porsche also won the Michelin Green X Challenge for the GT entry operating at the highest efficiency with the lowest environmental impact.
The No. 45 started fourth on the grid, with the No. 62 Risi Ferrari on the pole, the No. 17 Falken Porsche in second and the No. 3 Corvette in third. It was a clean start for the field on the 1.968 mile street course. Joerg Bergmeister started in the No. 45, and held fourth for the first 30 minutes, through several cautions and restarts. With the No. 17 and No. 62 battling for the lead, Joerg worked to hold off the No. 4 Corvette in fifth.
Just past the 30-minute mark of the 1 hour and 40 minute race, the No. 4 Corvette overtook Joerg to take fourth. Shortly after overtaking, the No. 4 Corvette went off course and impacted the tire wall. The car was able to continue, but fell back in the field. Joerg, now back in P4, now focused on catching the lead pack (the No. 17 in the lead, the No. 62 second and the No. 3 Corvette P3, with the No. 90 BMW now in fifth.
Nearing the 1 hour mark, with No. 17 still P1, No. 62 P2, No. 3 P3 and the No. 45 P4, the No. 44 of Darren Law and Seth Neiman stopped on course, and Darren Law reported that he had no drive. With the No. 44 unable to continue, the track went double yellow yet again for the 44 to get a flat tow back to the pits. At the end of the yellow nearly the entire field dove into the pits for their pit stop for driver change, tires and fuel.
After a lightning fast pit stop and driver change to Patrick Long, the No. 45 beat the No. 17, No. 62, and No. 3 out of the pits, moving into third. The No. 90 BMW, which had pitted at the same time, did not take tires and left the pits ahead of the No. 45 to take second. The No. 92 BMW had pitted under green just before the yellow, also not taking tires, and now had the lead.
Green flag racing resumed with just 30 minutes left in the race. The No. 92 had the GT lead, the No. 90 P2, the No. 45 P3, the No. 62 P4 and the No. 3 P5. A few minutes later, Patrick passed the No. 90 to take P2, now nose to tail with the No. 92 in the lead. Over the next 10 minutes, Patrick put pressure on the No. 92, as faster prototype traffic threaded through them and the No. 62 and No. 3 worked to close the gap. With just over ten minutes left in the race, Patrick took his chance and overtook the No. 92 for the lead. By the end of the race, the No. 3 Corvette had moved to P2 but Patrick held the lead and took the checkered for the win.
Long commented on the race, “With just 45 minutes to go, it really came down to a battle of pit stops when most of the GT field pitted under yellow. The No. 45 crew was unbelievable – everyone hit their marks and I sailed out of pit lane ahead of most of the rest of the GT field. It made my job so much easier – I was able to focus on the BMWs ahead of me and reel them in. I knew they didn’t have much left in their tires, and was able to get by Joey (Hand). At the end, Tom (Milner) didn’t make it easy, but I saw that the Ferrari and Corvette behind me were closing the gap and I made the pass and broke and brought it home. It was an extremely exciting stint and shows how strong the GT field is going to be this year in the ALMS.”
Bergmeister added, “We mixed things up by having me start the race even through Patrick qualified. It worked perfectly. My stint wasn’t as eventful as Patrick’s but I was able to hold position and stay out of trouble. The turning point for us was our pit stop and that gave us the push we needed to have a shot at the win.”
Team principal Seth Neiman added, “It was truly a great race by the No. 45 all the way around. Strong cars, great first stint from Joerg, stunning pit stop and awesome closing drive from Patrick. The No. 44 had a disappointing day: we were set for a good run. But we’re optimistic about the rest of the season and looking forward to another home race at Laguna.”
- Flying Lizard Motorsports