With less than 2 hours remaining in the 2010 running of Petit LeMans, Joerg Bergmeister is on the radio with the Flying Lizard chief strategist Thomas Blam, who says “a couple more laps, Joerg.” He is sitting in 6th position in class and the driver’s championship has been decided: it’s 3 in a row for the Patrick Long/Joerg Bergmeister duo. They have been hugely successful driving together for Porsche.
When he gets the call to pit, the extremely hard work for the day (and the season, for that matter is done). With Pat on the wall ready to jump in, Joerg brings the car in, stops on his marks. Tires, fuel and the car drops down off its air jacks with the familiar hiss. The tires squeal as Pat peels out of the pits, off to bring it home.
What Pat doesn’t see is the team in the pits giving high fives and subtle cheers. The Lizards have done it right again, and now they know its all up to Pat. It is almost 8 pm, the sun has slumbered below the trees and the track is dark. As one of the best road racers in the world and the only American Porsche Factory Driver, Pat is on pace on his first lap. He brings the tires up to temperature and Thomas Blam says “reset fuel.”
Done with his final stint, Joerg takes his helmet and balaclava off and immediately debriefs with a team engineer and looks to timing and scoring to see where they sit. No celebrations yet, as they will remain competitors to the end.
The solid black Flying Lizard firesuits are in stark contrast with the white Porsche Motorsport ones worn by of the guys next door, who are crewing for the GT3R-Hybrid. Both pits are strangely quiet as dozens of monitors displaying data and car telemetry are studied by the team and numerous onlookers.
For the Lizards, there are two more goals for the night: the manufacturer’s title and the team championship are still on the line. With a one-point lead over the BMWs, the Lizards focus on getting ahead of the 92 Rahal Letterman BMW driven by Dirk Werner.
Pat is energized by the nearing end of the race, yet is advised by Blam to save fuel. He slows down by nearly a second, and on the next lap Blam adds, “Not too much! We don’t want them to have enough time to pit.” Long, the consummate professional, delivers. Encouragingly, Blam says, “just settle into a nice rhythm and deliver the laps.” Even the best can use some inspiring words.
Then with less than hour remaining, Long is assured the #45 is good to finish the race: “switch to map 2, we are good to the end.” Pat immediately responds turning a 1:21.4 while the cars ahead of him are doing 22s and 23s. However, although the team has once again performed consistently, because he is 61 seconds behind the GT class leader, Long has little chance to win the race. The 92 BMW driven by Dirk Werner is only 24 seconds ahead.
Pat works his magic, the car has clocked almost 1000km today but he pushes with determination. He closes the gap down to 17.5 seconds. One of the Corvettes losses a position to the 45 in the pits and Pat is up to 5th. He gets within 9 seconds but with one lap to go it is clear Porsche will be very happy with the driver’s championship this year. Pat comes over the radio as he crosses the line, “sorry I didn’t have enough left in tank.” True champions to end.
GTC Results at Petit LeMans
In GTC, Andy Lally drove an incredible race besting the Black Swan Racing car of Jeroen Bleekemolen for the win. They battled it out close throughout the race and kept in clean on track and had great pit stops. Their fastest laps were within 5 thousandths of a second and despite a blistering last lap by Bleekemolen, Lally came away with a well-deserved victory.
Porsche RS Spyder Overcomes a Difficult Day
The P2 class Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder finished P2, eleven laps down to the P2 winner. They a somewhat difficult day starting with an early puncture. The RS Spyder may not be seen next year, as Porsche guaranteed support through 2009 and available parts have been massively depleted. The car was designed to weigh 750kg and it has been running heavier at 775 and 800 kg. The rules in 2010-11 would require them to run the car at 900kg.
The GT3R-Hybrid completed the race, although we noticed the crew experienced a few frustrating moments during the latter stages of the running. Porsche Intelligent Performance’s foray into American racing can surely be deemed a success, as earlier engineers had called the entry into Petit LeMans “a race laboratory” that would help them continue to refine the race car. Evidence of the enormous amount of research and experimentation poured into this car was observed all weekend, down to the detail of the scrambled radio communications signal that kept talk between the Porsche crew and the Hybrid drivers private from unwanted ears. Regardless, the Hybrid held its own, staying on pace with the fastest GT cars throughout the race. We look forward to seeing this awesome machine shine in many more races to come.