Flying Lizard No. 45 3rd, No. 44 7th and No. 46 9th at Mosport: Full Results Report
August 25, 2008 -- Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada -- It was tough race for the Lizard squad at Mosport on Sunday. After a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday, the No. 45, No. 46 and No. 44 Porsches started fourth, fifth and ninth, on the grid, respectively for the 2 hour and 45 minute race.
Wolf Henzler started in the No. 45, Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 46 and Seth Neiman in the No. 44. It was a relatively clean race start for the entire field on the 2.459-mile course. In the No. 45, Wolf held fourth, behind the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari in the lead, the No. 81 Farnbacher Loles Porsche in second and the No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari in third. In the No. 46, van Overbeek was bumped at the start by the No. 21 Panoz and lost one position to sixth. In the No. 44, Neiman held ninth.
With the No. 71 passing the No. 87 to take second, Henzler now set his sights on the No. 87 Porsche. He worked over the next 15 minutes to pass the No. 87, finally getting by to move into third. Unfortunately, by the time he was able to pass the No. 87, the No. 62 and No. 71 Ferraris had built a solid gap from the rest of the field with the No. 62 now 16 seconds ahead of the No. 45.
40 minutes into the race, the first yellow was called to remove the No. 18 Porsche which had apparently lost a wheel, then impacted the tire wall, significantly damaging the car and requiring repair to the wall. Working in the Lizards favor, this yellow allowed Henzler and van Overbeek to close the gap to the GT2 leaders.
The No. 45 was now third, the No. 87 fourth, and the No. 46 fifth. All three Lizard Porsches pitted near the end of the first yellow, near the one-hour mark, for tires, fuel and driver changes. The No. 62, No. 71, and No. 87 all also pitted at the same time. After a very fast pit stop, Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 45 shot out of the pits ahead of the rest of the GT2 field to take the lead. In the No. 46, Patrick Pilet also gained a position, making it out of the pits in fourth ahead of the No. 71. The No. 44, which had also pitted, was now in eighth with Lonnie Pechnik behind the wheel. The No. 45 was in the lead, closely followed by the No. 62 in second, the No. 87 in third, the No. 46 in fourth, and the No. 71 in fifth.
Just after the green flag restart, as Bergmeister was settling into his pace, he moved far inside to avoid a slow prototype, allowing the No. 62 Risi Ferrari to follow a faster prototype around the outside to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Dirk Mueller in the No. 71 passed Pilet in the No. 46, pushing the No. 46 again back to fifth. The No. 71 then passed the No. 87 to move into third. Over the next ten minutes, the No. 71 closed the gap to Bergmeister in the No. 45 to less than 1 second, but was not able to pass.
One hour and 25 minutes into the race, a second yellow flag was called to clean up the course after the No. 30 Intersport prototype impacted the concrete wall, sending debris flying over the track. The caution sent most GT2 cars back to the pits for tires and short fuel but no driver changes (because of the timing of the earlier driver changes, the second shift of drivers would be able to drive for the entire rest of the race without exceeding their maximum time allowed in the car). The No. 45 was out again quickly back into second, as was the No. 44, which was now in sixth. But bad luck struck the No. 46 when the car would not restart in the pits after receiving its fuel and tires. The crew diagnosed a broken starter and worked to replace it in the pits.
At the second green flag restart, there was just one hour to go in the race. After the pit stops, the No. 87 had now taken the lead, with the No. 45 now in second, the No. 62 in third, and the No. 71 in fourth. The No. 46 was still in the pits, and the No. 44 had moved up to sixth. Fifteen minutes after they pitted, the No. 46 was finally back in the race, but now in tenth, with a podium finish now out of reach. It was a tremendous disappointment for van Overbeek and Pilet, who are third in the drivers' championship points chase and needed a strong finish at Mosport to stay in the hunt. The No. 87 now had a comfortable lead, and the No. 45, No. 62 and No. 71 were all bunched up nose to tail. The No. 62 made it past Bergmeister in the No. 45 to move into second, putting the No. 45 into third, with the No. 71 right on his tail.
For the last 50 minutes, the No. 45 and No. 71 raced nose to tail and the cars appearing to nearly touch at every turn. With 20 minutes to go, the No. 62 passed the No. 87 to once again retake the lead. The No. 87 was now in second, the No. 45 in third, and the No. 71 in fourth. The No. 44 was seventh and the No. 46 tenth. With the No. 62 now solidly in the lead and the No. 87 secure in second, it was shaping up to be a battle for third place between ALMS GT2 drivers' championship contenders Bergmeister in the No. 45 in third and Dirk Mueller in the No. 71.
In third, Bergmeister continued to defend his position. The No. 71 tried for multiple passing opportunities with the two cars making contact at nearly every passing attempt. An unsportsmanshiplike flag warning was shown to both cars; the No. 45 for blocking and the No. 71 for avoidable contact. Chief Strategist Thomas Blam notified Bergmeister of the warning.
On the second to last lap, the No. 45 Porsche entered Turn 5, following the other Tafel Racing Ferrari, the No. 73 which was not on the same lap. The No. 73 ran a very slow line through the corner; at the same time, the No. 71 made contact with the No. 45 in the latter part of turn 5, pushing the No. 45 out and allowing the No. 71 through. After the race, officials gave the No. 71 a penalty for avoidable contact, relegating the No. 71 to fourth and moving the No. 45 up to third. The No. 44 finished seventh. The No. 46, which was not able to regain the lost time in the pits, finished ninth.
With this result, the No. 45 of Bergmeister and Henzler increases its lead in the ALMS GT2 driver championship over the drivers of the No. 71 Tafel Racing Ferrari, and the Flying Lizard retains its lead in the team championship.
Bergmeister, commented, "That was one of the toughest fights that I ever had in a race car. I had to drive very hard to make sure that the No. 71 would not get by. In doing that, I got more and more pickup so at the end I was struggling quite a bit. But in the end, we finished ahead in the points."
Teammate Wolf Henzler, added, "In the beginning of the race, I was stuck behind another car, and I couldn't get by him. I tried a few times to get by, but he really fought for his position, and I backed off because I didn't want to take too much risk in the beginning of the race. I was on a faster pace, but it was difficult to pass because of the risk. Finally I managed to get by him and he made it possible for me to pass cleanly. Once I passed him, I was able to pull away and started to close the gap between me and the No. 71 Ferrari which was in second. I was able to close the gap a bit, but I hit traffic and fell back again. When the caution came, I pitted, and watched Joerg beat everyone out of the pits to take the lead. I don't know how the crew made this happen but it was fantastic pit work."
Henzler continued. "For us in the No. 45, the main goal right now is to finish ahead of the No. 71 to stay ahead in the championship. We were able to do that and every last point can count to the championship. It's a shame that the No. 46 had the problems which put them out of the running so early."
Chief Strategist Thomas Blam added, "The tight championship battles in GT2 and P2 are going to make the final three races of the season incredibly exciting. Each of the drivers wans to win his championship and no one will give an inch. Strategy, the speed of the car, and pit stop work will all be major factors in the outcome of each race. And of course most important may be just staying out of trouble over the next three very tense races."
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.