Flying Lizard No. 45 Wins in GT2 at Utah Grand Prix, No. 44 Sixth; Third Win in a Row

May 17, 2009

Photos © Rick Dole.

Toole, Utah — The No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long started from pole position in today’s Utah Grand Prix and never looked back — leading the race from start to finish. The No. 44 Flying Lizard Porsche of Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek started from ninth and climbed to a sixth place finish. This is the third win in a row for the Lizards and further extends their lead in the ALMS GT2 team and drivers’ championship (Bergmeister and Long).

In the 2-hour and 45-minute race, Bergmeister started from the pole, with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari second and the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche third. It was a ragged start for the GT2 class as jockeying in the prototype field up front accordioned into chaos at the back. Bergmeister explained, “I had expected a strong start. I was at the front of the GT2 field so when the prototypes started accelerating, I started accelerating. Then the prototypes were suddenly on the brakes and I had to hit the brakes. The GT2 cars behind me had momentum and Marc Lieb in the No. 87 flew by. Some of the GT2 cars got caught up in the mess, but luckily I was able to get through it and overtake the No. 87 again to retake the lead.”

Meanwhile, in the No. 44, van Overbeek, starting from ninth, stayed out of trouble on the start and got up to pace quickly where he turned consistently fast lap times for his first one-hour stint, climbing from ninth to third. At the one-hour mark, he pitted for tires, fuel and driver change to Seth Neiman.

In the No. 45, over his nearly 70-minute stint, Bergmeister retained the lead, gradually increasing the gap to the No. 87 to nearly 10 seconds, when he pitted for driver change to Patrick Long, tires and fuel. At the time of his pit stop, the No. 87 was second, the No. 21 Team PTG Panoz was third and the No. 62 was in fourth.

In the No. 44, Neiman ran a clean stint, turning the wheel back to Johannes van Overbeek for a final push to finish a strong sixth, helping Neiman retain fourth in the drivers’ championship points. van Overbeek added, “Our chief engineer Craig Watkins did a great job on the car. As a result, the car was very easy to manage and most importantly, fun to drive. The crew did a great job on the stops and I’m just glad we stayed out of trouble in the early laps of the race.”

In the No. 45, Long was able to maintain the lead through the next round of pit stops, where both the No. 87 (still in second) and No. 45 came in for splashes of fuel, taking the checkered to his third win in a row this season. This capped off an excellent weekend for the Lizards: Long set the fastest GT2 race lap time, Bergmeister set a new class track lap record in qualifying, and the No. 45 was the fastest car in every practice session. Long added, “It was a seamless weekend for the Lizards leading up to the race and I was determined to finish the weekend out on top. I knew the No. 87 was in striking distance so I chose to wait until the second half of my stint to really put the hurt on them. We were able to extend our gap before we came in for fuel and thanks to great strategy from Thomas Blam and pit work from the crew, we kept the lead and took the win. It was our race to lose, and I think that demanded perfection from everyone today: an incredible weekend!”

Up next for the Lizards

The Lizards head next to France for the 24 Heures du Mans, June 13–14, at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. Bergmeister will join Neiman and Darren Law for the Lizard’s fifth consecutive race at Le Mans.