First Podium of the Season for the No. 44 Porsche
#44 takes 2nd in GT2 at Long Beach
Image by Bob Chapman
LONG BEACH, Calif. — The No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche of Darren Law and Patrick Long finished second today in GT2 at the Long Beach Grand Prix: the highest finishing Porsche in GT2. In the No. 45 Porsche, teammates Johannes van Overbeek and Jörg Bergmeister hit some bad luck midway through the race when Jörg made contact with a stopped prototype at the hairpin turn, requiring a lengthy pit stop for a radiator replacement.
The 1 hour and 40 minute race was relatively incident-free, considering the challenging street course with its narrow walls, changing track surface and off-camber corner exits. There was just one full course caution, when the No. 18 Rahal Porsche spun off-line and into a retaining wall. The ensuing caution was early enough in the race (which should have required only one pit stop for driver change, tires and fuel) that teams scrambled to adjust their strategies and make the call to pit under yellow or stay out. Just three of the GT2 field pitted under yellow, including the No. 45.
After the field went back to green-flag racing, Jörg was in P5, just ahead of the No. 62 Risi Ferrari, and was the leader of the group which had pitted. The No. 44 Porsche, with Darren Law behind the wheel, had not pitted under caution, putting it in the GT2 lead, with the No. 71 Tafel Porsche close on its heels. Law drove an excellent stint, yielding track position only once when the No. 71 Porsche snuck underneath with a passing prototype. Law said:
Starting from P2, we had a good clean race start and ran behind the Ferrari for the first part of the race until the caution, when the Ferrari pitted and we moved into the lead. We had a good restart on the green, and I was able to keep Wolf (Henzler) in the No. 71 Tafel Porsche behind me even though he kept pushing. It’s tough on the streets with the prototypes, and towards the end of the stint, the Audi pushed me out into the marbles. Wolf and I were running nose-to-tail, and once the Audi was under me, Wolf was able to get past me as well.
Meanwhile, in the No. 45, shortly after the end of the yellow, Jörg made contact with an Audi prototype, puncturing the radiator and necessitating a lengthy pit stop to replace it. Jörg said,
It was tough luck. We were quick enough to win the race today and the crew did such a great job — both preparing the car, during the race and in our pitstop. When the Audi pretty much parked in the hairpin, I couldn’t avoid hitting him and that was the end of our chances for a podium.
While the No. 45 was undergoing repairs in the pits, Patrick Long in the No. 44 began to reel in the GT2 field, passing the No. 21 Panoz of Joey Hand and then the No. 61 Ferrari of Anthony Lazzaro. With the No. 62 Risi Ferrari in the lead and too far ahead to overtake, the No. 44 crossed the finish line in second place, their first podium finish of the season. Long added,
I knew with the way the chips fell on the strategy and not pitting under yellow, we’d have to go out and run qualifying pace to get on the podium. The setup that our engineers Craig Watkins and Stefan Pfeiffer put on the car allowed me to do that. I’m a SoCal native, so racing at Long Beach is special for me personally and racing with the Lizards is always a treat.
Up next for the Lizards is the Grand Prix of Houston, April 21, in Houston Texas. For details see www.lizardms.com.
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Founded in 2003, the Sonoma, Calif-based Flying Lizard team is competing in its fourth season of sports car racing with the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). In 2007, the team again fields two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs—the No. 44 and the No. 45—in the 12-race ALMS season.
The Flying Lizard squad has finished in the top three in the ALMS drivers’ and team championships in every season to date. In 2006, Johannes van Overbeek was second in the ALMS GT2 drivers’ championship and the team finished third. In 2005, van Overbeek was third in the ALMS GT2 drivers’ championship and the team finished in third. In 2004, in their inaugural year, Johannes and the team finished in second place. Flying Lizard has completed two contests at the historic 24 Heures du Mans, finishing fourth in GT2 in 2006 and third in 2005.
Visit the team website at www.lizardms.com.