Posted: 04 Oct 2011 11:55 AM PDT
Joerg Bergmeister brought the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche home to a second place finish at the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans today, edging out the No. 55 BMW with a late-race pass. In the No. 44, Marco Holzer crossed the finish line eighth in GT. The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari won in GT. Gallery after the jump!
Both Porsches ran virtually problem-free over the race, which lasted nearly 10 hours at Road Atlanta. In the No. 45, Bergmeister started fourth on the GT grid and Darren Law started twelfth in the No. 44. It was a clean start for the 52-car field, and both Bergmeister and Law held their positions at the start.
Over the next four hours, both Lizard Porsches cycled uneventfully through driver lineups: Patrick Long and Patrick Pilet in the No. 45 and Seth Neiman and Holzer in the No. 44. Incident after incident on track resulted in four lengthy yellows in the first four hours which fragmented the GT field pit stop sequence into several groups.
Just past the 4.5 hour mark, Bergmeister, back in the No. 45 for his second stint and in P3, had a left front tire puncture, sending him into the pits for an unscheduled stop. The stop dropped him to P6. Just past hour five, a second tire puncture sent Bergmeister back into the pits again. Meanwhile, the No. 44 had gradually climbed through the GT field to P8.
The race of attrition continued through the afternoon, claiming car after car and resulting in a total of 10 full-course cautions over the race. At hour nine, Bergmeister was once again behind the wheel of the No. 45, now in P3 behind the No. 55 BMW in P2. The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari was in the lead. Over the last 30 minutes, Bergmeister gradually closed the gap to the No. 55 and was putting pressure on the BMW looking for an opportunity to pass. A final caution at the end of the race ate up precious laps, leaving Joerg only a few laps to make his move. With just a lap and a half to go, Joerg overtook the No. 55 to take P2, securing the tire manufacturer title for Michelin. No. 44 finished eighth.
Bergmeister: “When we went green after the final caution, I had just 1.5 laps to go to the checkered. I had a one-lap lead on P4 and knew I had to make my move. At Turn 6, Dirk defended on the inside so I went to the outside and got by him. There was a bit of contact but I got by and from there it was just staying ahead of him. It was a great finish to a tough year. Thank you to the crew who worked so hard this year.”
Patrick Pilet: “I was really happy to have the opportunity to be here as a last minute addition. The team did a really good job and made everything easy for me. We had fast pit stops and gained time at every one. No one made a mistake and of course there was Joerg’s fantastic pass at the end. I’m really happy to be back with the Lizards and finish on the podium.”
Patrick Long: “Over the last two races, we’ve shown that if we stick to the plan and let the race come to us, and are in there at the end, you can get results. To end the year on a high note gives us good momentum into the offseason.
Marco Holzer: “Even with all of the traffic it was actually a really good race. The No. 44 didn’t have any problems over ten hours and we finished P8. I was happy with my times, and the crew did a fantastic job at the pit stops. I want to say thank you to the Lizards: I learned a lot this year in my races with the ALMS. I really hope to be able to come back here next year.”
Darren Law added, “The No. 44 guys drove a great race and the crew did an excellent job. It was incident-free, and I’m happy with the result. It was a difficult race dealing with all of the classes, but a lot of fun.”
Craig Watkins engineer of the No. 45, “It’s been a long, challenging year. Any time you are in it for the long haul you are going to have years that are tougher than others. We ended the year on a high note: first with the win at Laguna, then with a second here at Petit. Thanks to the crew of the No. 45 for putting up with the endless changes to the car to improve it. In the end, we brought a solid racecar to the grid at every race this year thanks to their hard work.”
Thank you to our fans, friends and family for all of your support over a long season. We’ll see you in 2012!
- Flying Lizard Motorsports
Posted: 04 Oct 2011 10:19 AM PDT
For the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron brought a fifth place position in GT class for Team Falken and 4th in the final results for the GT Team Championship, and 5th place in the GT Drivers’ Championship. With two wins plus four top five finishes out of nine races this year, the Derrick Walker-led team proved it was one to contend with throughout the season. Gallery after the jump!
Record-breaking attendance surrounded the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit, which hosted the endurance classic for the 14th time. The 1,000 miles were covered in nine hours, 30 minutes, with Team Falken’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR piloted by Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler, and his partner, veteran Falken driver Bryan Sellers, joined again for this race by Porsche Junior driver Martin “Raggi” Ragginger. Raggi also drove with the duo at Sebring in March.
As was the case throughout the demanding season, which saw the team cross the country twice, compete over the border in Canada, and record its first two victories after just two full years of ALMS competition, Team Falken was successful as a result of both brilliant strategy and the tremendous effort of Henzler and Sellers.
In fact, Team Manager Derrick Walker and Strategist John Ward took full advantage of race yellows all season long, and with excellent pit work by the Falken crew, enabled the team to gain track position and move through the field at every track. This rang true throughout Petit Le Mans, as all three drivers answered the call to push hard through the busy 53-car field to take fifth in class, finishing 15th overall.
“Being our second full year of ALMS competition, we are glad to end the season with a top-five finish at Petit Le Mans,” stated Kevin Jones, Falken’s ALMS Supervisor. “Being just shy of the podium in the Team Championship is disappointing, but definitely something for us to build on for next year.”
To say that our accomplishments this season in the American Le Mans Series were great would be an understatement,” declared Nick Fousekis, Falken’s Director of Motorsports Marketing and Events. In true David vs. Goliath fashion, our one-car, non-factory effort competed with the world’s best and took top honors at two of the nine rounds. Having done this is a true testament to the team’s dedication and our Falken Tire product.
“I can only echo what Nick said,” stated Andrew Hoit, VP, Marketing. “Media outlets have referred to Team Falken as the ‘revelation of the 2011 ALMS season.’ It didn’t come overnight, as we have been methodical about our planning and race development all season long, as have our tire engineers, continually improving the AZENIS Race Slick.
“Equally important, we met a lot of people and connected with many retailers, customers and race enthusiasts all over North America,” Hoit continued, “and certainly effectively leveraged the tremendous marketing opportunities afforded Falken Tire through ALMS. We’re all competitive and wanted another podium finish, but this was a fantastic and very rewarding year for Falken.”
At the ALMS banquet Sunday night, October 2, Team Falken Tire won the “For the Fans” award as the organization/person with the biggest impact on ALMS and sports car racing in 2011. This was based on voters who voiced their opinion on ALMS’ website.
- Falken Tire
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