Five in a Row: Flying Lizard No. 45 Wins Mid-Ohio, Extends Championship Lead to 37 Points

August 08, 2009

Photo © Rick Dole.

Lexington, Ohio – The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche started from the pole at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio and never looked back, leading GT2 for the entire 2 hour and 45 minute race. This makes five wins in a row for the duo of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long and ties the ALMS record for most consecutive wins. The No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette, in their inaugural GT2 race, was second, and the No. 92 Rahal Letterman BMW was third: three manufacturers on the GT2 podium. With this finish, Bergmeister and Long extended their lead to 37 points over Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari, which finished fifth. In the No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche, Darren Law and Seth Neiman, who started from the back of the grid, had a clean race, moving through the Challenge class field to finish ninth in GT2.

The race started under yellow, then on the start, a Challenge car impacted the wall, resulting in a lengthy full-course yellow. On the restart twenty minutes later, Joerg held the lead while the GT2 field fought to define positions while threading through the slower Challenge cars and managing the faster prototype traffic. Once the field sorted itself out, the No. 3 Corvette was in P2, the No. 62 Risi Ferrari was P3, and the No. 92 BMW was P4.

Bergmeister commented, “The racecar was great and our pace was phenomenal today. It looked seamless, but we had some issues over both our stints. It was tough out there with the Challenge cars, they didn’t make it easy. One got me going into Turn 5 and hit the left rear wheel. The impact broke the wheel, but luckily I didn’t lose any air. Shortly after that, a lot of oil covered the windscreen and the visibility was really poor. I was able to finish out my stint and handed the car over to Patrick.”

The No. 45 had its scheduled pit stop for driver change to Patrick Long, tires and fuel near the end of the GT2 field scheduled pit stops, but before both Corvettes. With a clean pit stop, Patrick Long was back out, still in the lead. Once all the pit stops had been completed, the No. 45 was P1, the No. 3 Corvette P2 and the No. 4 Corvette P3. The No. 62 Risi Ferrari was P4 and the No. 92 BMW P5. There was a close call for Patrick just after his pit stop as he and two prototypes avoided two spinning Challenge cars on course. The No. 45 was unscathed, and he continued in the lead.

With just under an hour to go in the race, a prototype embedded itself deep in the gravel and the course went full yellow. Patrick was still holding a 12 second lead to the No. 3 Corvette, with the No. 4 Corvette close behind in third and the No. 62 Risi Ferrari in fourth. The pace car split the Corvettes, and the No. 45 and the No. 3 Corvette were the only two GT2 cars on the lead lap. Although the rest of the GT2 field gained some of the gap back on the wave-by, the yellow gave the No. 45 some breathing room. Late in the yellow, much of the GT2 field pitted for a splash of fuel, including both Corvettes and the No. 62 Risi Ferrari, which also took tires. The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche did not pit for fuel, making a strategic call that they could finish the race without refueling. On the green flag, the No. 3 Corvette was caught behind a GT2 pack (who were not on the same lap), and Patrick was able to rebuild a significant gap.

Over the final 45 minutes of the race, Patrick held the lead, increasing the gap to the No. 3 Corvette to more than 20 seconds. The GT2 field continued to shuffle, with the No. 3 Corvette finishing second, the No. 92 BMW third, and the No. 4 Corvette fourth.

Long said, “When I got in the car after Joerg’s stint, thought I might have lost clutch pressure. So to be safe, I shifted without a clutch for most of the stint, just to be sure we had enough at the end. Then at Turn 5, I had a NASCAR moment when two challenge cars got together in the Apex and spun into the racing line. With two prototypes on the inside, luckily we all managed to weave through without colliding.” He added, “Thanks to the crew for putting together such a fast and consistent racecar for us today.”

Chief strategist Thomas Blam commented, “We made a strategic call that we could finish the race without refueling and didn’t pit with the rest of the GT2 field during the final yellow. It was definitely on the edge, and we finished the race with the fuel light on, but we were confident in our fuel numbers. It may have not been the deciding factor in the race, but it definitely helped us keep a large gap.”

In the No. 44 Porsche, Seth Neiman started from the rear of the grid, as teammate Darren Law had not been able to make the official practice sessions. Seth stayed out of trouble in the incident-heavy race, until getting hit by a prototype, suffering a puncture. He pitted and turned the wheel over to Darren Law. Darren had a great stint, and with a fast racecar gained a position over the next 90 minutes to finish ninth in GT2.

Up next for the team is Road America, Sunday August 16.