Flying Lizard Finishes Second, Fourth and Seventh in GT2 at Road America: Final Results Report
August 12, 2008 -- Sonoma, Calif. -- In a four-hour race dominated by yellow flags, the Flying Lizard squad secured their seventh podium in a row at Saturday's 2008 Generac 500 at Road America. The No. 45 of Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler finished second, the No. 46 of Johannes van Overbeek and Patrick Pilet finished fourth, and the No. 44 of Seth Neiman and Darren Law finished seventh.
In the GT2 field, the many race cautions helped cars conserve fuel and kept pit stops to a minimum. In what was a fairly uneventful race for GT2 until the last few minutes, a late-race upset led to a hair-raising finish as the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche took the win and Wolf Henzler, in third place on the last lap, pulled off a daring pass with just seconds to go to take second place.
With this result, Flying Lizard extends their lead in the drivers and team championships. They are now 18 points ahead of Tafel Racing in the team championship, and Bergmeister and Henzler in the No. 45 are seven points ahead of Farnbacher and Mueller in the No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari.
The four-hour event began at 4:15 Central Time, with a clean start across the entire field. Dark clouds threatened rain at race start, but they quickly blew over and good weather held for the race. On the 14-car GT2 grid, Joerg Bergmeister started third in the No. 45 Lizard Porsche, Johannes van Overbeek started fifth in the No. 46, and Seth Neiman started tenth in the No. 44. The No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari started on the pole, the No. 62 Risi Ferrari started second and the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche started fourth.
Due to a technical issue, timing and scoring data was not available to the teams for the first fifteen minutes of the race, forcing Flying Lizard strategists Thomas Blam (No. 45), Eric Ingraham (No. 46) and John Wright (No. 44) to rely on hand timing and their view of the front straight to track car positions.
In the first few minutes of the race, Bergmeister in the No.45 was able to pass the No. 62 to take second position, and van Overbeek in the No. 46 passed the No. 87 to take fourth. The first 15 minutes of racing was to be one of the longest sections of continuous green racing in the event, which racked up 7 lengthy cautions over four hours. About 15 minutes into the race, the first yellow flag was thrown to remove the No. 66 prototype from the tire wall. 15 minutes later, the race was underway again. On the restart, Bergmeister, in second, passed the No. 71 Ferrari to take the lead. The No. 71 was now in second, No. 62 in third, and No. 46 in fourth. The No. 44, which had lost a lap to most of the GT2 field on the yellow flag due to their track position behind the overall leader, was now in thirteenth.
Just seven minutes later, caution number two was called to remove the No. 40 Ford from deep in the gravel after apparently being punted off track by a prototype. The No. 45 and No. 46 both pitted nearly simultaneously during the second yellow for fuel and tires as did the No. 62. The No. 71 Ferrari did not pit. As the No. 45 left pit lane, the crew discovered that a suspension bolt had come loose from the right front. Bergmeister was immediately notified to proceed cautiously back to the pits. Although the track was still yellow, and he was quickly back out again, the unplanned pit stop cost him the lead and pushed the No. 45 back in the field. The No. 44 pitted near the end of the yellow for tires and fuel and a driver change to Darren Law, heading back out again in tenth.
20 minutes later, the course went green again, only to go yellow immediately for a third time because of a slow prototype on course. After the GT2 field settled back in, and the No. 87 Porsche served a penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit, the No. 21 Panoz (which had not yet pitted) was now in the lead, with the No. 71 (which also had not pitted) in second, van Overbeek in the No. 46 had moved to third, the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari in fourth, the No. 62 in fifth, and Bergmeister in the No. 45 was in sixth.
The third caution lasted nearly 10 minutes. Nearing the one-hour mark, the race again got the green flag. At the restart, the No. 21 was still in the lead, with the No. 62 now in second, the No. 46 in third, the No. 73 in fourth. Bergmeister pushed quickly past the No. 73 to take fourth, and then passed the No. 46 to move into third. With the No. 62 moving into the lead, and the No. 21 now second, Bergmeister began to pressure the No. 21 then passed to take second, and set his sights on the No. 62. Meanwhile, van Overbeek had moved to third, just behind the No. 45, and Darren Law in the No. 44 had moved to ninth, still one lap down on the lead GT2 pack. The No. 87 was in fourth, now putting pressure on van Overbeek, and the No. 71 was in fifth.
At the 90-minute mark, the No. 45 and No. 46 were holding second and third, respectively. In the No. 44, Law pitted early for new tires and fuel after flat-spotting a rear tire and took the opportunity for a driver change back to Neiman for his second stint. On track, meanwhile, the No. 87 has passed the No. 46 to take third. The No. 45 was still in second. The No. 62 pitted first of the group, putting the No. 45 in the lead, the No. 87 in second, and the No. 46 in third. The No. 71 was fourth. The No. 45 and No. 46 pitted simultaneously, for tires, fuel, and driver changes to Wolf Henzler in the No. 45 and Patrick Pilet in the No. 46. The No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari pitted just after the Lizards.
After the GT2 pit stops, and just past the two-hour mark, the No. 62 was in the lead, the No. 45 in second, the No. 46 in third, the No. 87 in fourth, and the No. 71 in fifth. The No. 44 was in eighth. Over the next twenty minutes, Henzler worked to close the gap to the No. 62. The No. 71 moved up to pass the No. 46 to take third, and the No. 87 was now also putting pressure on the No. 46, eventually passing him to take fourth, putting Pilet in the No. 46 into fifth.
With less than 90 minutes to go, Henzler was just 4 seconds back from the No. 62 when an incident between the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari and a prototype led to the fourth caution yellow of the race. Most of the GT2 pack pitted under the yellow, including the No. 62, the No. 87, and the No. 71. All three Lizard Porsches pitted simultaneously late in the yellow. At the time of the pit stops, Henzler was now in the lead. The No. 45 and No. 46 had fast pit stops for tires and fuel and both cars got out of the pits ahead of the No. 71. In the No. 44, Neiman handed the wheel over to Law for his second stint. After the 20 minute yellow, at the green flag, the No. 62 was now again the lead. After the restart, the No. 62 retained the lead, the No. 87 was in second, the No. 45 in third, the No. 71 now in fourth and the No. 46 in fifth. The No. 44 was seventh.
And just 10 minutes of green flag racing, a fifth yellow flag was called to remove the No. 4 Corvette from the gravel after he went off course, collected some track signage, then landed in the gravel bed. The No. 44 pitted under yellow for fuel, but the No. 45 and No. 46 stayed out. With under an hour left in the race, it would come down to the amount of green flag racing: if there were more cautions, which was looking very possible, the Lizard Porsches could probably make it to the end of the race without refueling. After the 15-minute caution, on the restart, both the No. 71 (which was in fourth) and the No. 46 (in fifth) passed Henzler in the No. 45 after he was forced wide, creating a gap for both cars to go through. The No. 62 retained the lead, with the No 87 still in second, the 46 now in third, the No. 71 in fourth, and the No. 45 now in fifth.
Just three minutes after the restart, there was yet another 15-minute yellow flag to remove the No. 15 prototype from the gravel. At the restart, with 20 minutes left to go in the race, the No. 46 was third and the No. 45 fifth. Henzler had the No. 71 in his sights looking for an opportunity to repass. The two got stuck in traffic and were separated slightly from the three GT2 lead cars. The No. 71, in fourth, took advantage of traffic to get a further gap between him and the No. 45 Porsche, and was now nose to tail with the No. 46, which was in third position.
With 15 minutes left to go, the No. 71 passed the No. 46 to take third and Henzler in the No. 45 passed the No. 46 to take fourth. A major incident between the No. 007 Aston Martin and the No. 26 Acura prototype resulted in yet another caution. The No. 62 was still in the lead, the No. 87 in second, the No. 71 now in third, the No. 45 now in fourth and the No. 46 now in fifth.
With three minutes left to the checkered, the green flag fell. It would prove to be a battle down to the end. Just after the restart on the final lap, the No. 87 took advantage of congestion to get past the No. 62. Trying to regain the position, the No. 62 spun, falling back to fifth. Nearly simultaneously, a few hundred yards back, Henzler made a bold maneuver, pulling past the No. 71 to take second. With the No. 62 falling back, Pilet moved up to fourth. In the No. 44, Law finished seventh.
Wolf Henzler commented on the race and his final pass, "It was the last lap and I knew I had to do it then or I would finish third. I had been trying to catch him for several laps, but was held up by traffic and lost some time. Finally, I had caught him again and was very close to him going into turn 5 when I decided it was now or never. It was a left handed turn, I went to the left and he also went to the left, and we approached the braking zone together. I stayed on the throttle and braked late. He also braked late, but got sideways and I was able to pass him on the inside. The crew made no mistakes today - we had great pit stops, the strategy was good and Joerg did a great job in his stint."
Bergmeister added, "Finishing ahead of the No. 71 was critical for the championship points for the team and for the No. 45. It was a nail-biter at the end but Wolf managed to get by and we widened our lead in the championship. Now we are looking forward to Mosport: it's another great track and should be really exciting race."
Eric Ingraham, strategist No. 46 Porsche and team manager commented, "Much of the four-hour race was run under yellow. It's often a vicious cycle: the restarts bunch up the cars and bring out the aggressiveness in each of the drivers, which leads to incidents, more yellows, and more restarts. Drivers are also very focused on the championship right now, which can be won or lost over the next few races, so everyone was driving on the edge, with some even driving over that edge and showing some significant aggressiveness with their competitors. We would have liked to climb a bit higher in the field but are happy with the results of 2nd, 4th, and 7th and how that contributes to our pursuit of the championship."
Ingraham continued, "We are focused now on Mosport. Like Road America, Mosport is a fast, technical track and our drivers will have their work cut out for them to stay out of trouble and make sure we have three competitive cars for both Mosport and Detroit, which is the following weekend."
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
2008 is the fifth consecutive ALMS season for the Sonoma, California-based GT2 team. Since its first year of competition in 2004, the team has finished in the top three in the ALMS GT2 team and drivers' championships, but has not yet won the GT2 title. In 2007, the team was second in the ALMS GT2 team championship and drivers Johannes van Overbeek and Joerg Bergmeister finished second in the ALMS GT2 drivers' championship.
Flying Lizard is sponsored by ShoreTel, a leading provider of enterprise IP telephony solutions, and eSilicon, a semiconductor company, both based in Sunnyvale, California. Team partners include Porsche and Michelin.