Flying Lizard No. 45 5th and No. 44 7th in Rain-filled Petit Le Mans

September 26, 2009

September 26, 2009 – Braselton, Georgia –  With cars parked on pit lane under tarps and umbrellas, teams waited out the rain, with the hope that the race would be able to restart. Finally, with night falling and temperatures dropping, officials made the call to end the race around 8 pm ET, after less than 5 hours of racing in what was planned to be a 10 hour or 1000 mile endurance race. Cars finished with the positions that they held at the time of the red flag. The Flying Lizard No. 45 was fifth and the No. 44 seventh. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari won in GT2. This reduces the No. 45 and team’s GT2 championship lead to 19 points heading into Laguna. At Laguna, which is worth 25 points, if the No. 45 finishes tenth or better, the No. 45 and the team will still win the championship.

The race started under ominous skies and was declared a wet race at the start. Most of the cars started on rain tires, running for the first hour before switching to slicks. In the Flying Lizard No. 45, Patrick Long started fifth on the grid. In the No. 44, Seth Neiman started tenth. Even with a very wet track, it was a clean start for the entire field.

By the one-hour mark, the GT2 lead pack had settled in, with the No. 4 Corvette in the lead, the No. 3 Corvette in P2, the No. 45 in P3, the No. 90 BMW in P4 , the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche in P5 and the No. 62 in P6. With Joerg Bergmeister now in the No. 45 and now on slicks, he worked over his stint to stay with the Corvettes and build a gap to the rest of the GT2 field. Meanwhile, in the No. 44, Seth Neiman had handed the wheel over to Darren Law, who was just settling into his stint when he was hit by the No. 17 Falken Tire Porsche, sending him into the pits for two unscheduled stops for repairs and pushing him back in the field.

By the 90-minute mark, with the track too dry for wets but still damp and misty, cars were flying off track at every corner. Over the next 30 minutes, several yellows in a row reshuffled the GT2 field as the cars pitted for tires, fuel top ups and miscellaneous repairs. Joerg was able to hold on to P3. Nearing the 3 hour mark, at the end of his double stint, Joerg turned the wheel over to Marc Lieb. Out in P4, Marc quickly picked up two positions on a green restart after a caution. Marc had a strong stint, keeping the car in second place, before turning it back to Patrick Long for his second stint.

Soon after taking over the wheel, Patrick pitted under yellow in the No. 45 for fuel and a clean windshield. Just prior to the race going green, the No. 62 made the winning call by pitting for rain tires. Two laps after the green restart, the rain came and the rest of the GT2 field, including the No. 45, had to pit again under green for tires. The tire call gave the No. 62 Ferrari a one lap lead, and when the race was red-flagged at hour five, the win. The No. 45 finished fifth and in the No. 44, Johannes van Overbeek had moved up to seventh. The No. 44 also won the Michelin® GreenX® Challenge in GT.