The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR team had so much confidence in their over-the-wall pit crew that they elected to take on four new tires – even though their closest competitors tried to save time by not changing tires – and their strategy paid off as Patrick Long (USA) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) scored an exciting GT class win at today’s American Le Mans Series event at Long Beach.
Long and Bergmeister, the defending ALMS GT champions, were determined to rebound from a disappointing fourth-place finish at Sebring, and outlasted both the BMWs and Ferraris at Long Beach to vault themselves into a share of first place driver points after two events.
“Because this was the second event of the two-race probation for me from Laguna last year, the team decided it would be better for me to drive the first stint,” said Bergmeister, “but it was the quick driver and tire change at our pit stop, plus Patrick’s amazing pressure on the BMW, that gave us the victory.”
“I was able to get right on the tail of the #92 BMW after the pit stop with my new tires because we almost beat the BMW out of the pits, even though they did not change tires,” explained Long, who rode the bumper of the BMW and passed Tommy Milner with only ten minutes to go in the race.
“I had a little trouble at first because we failed to adjust the seat during the driver change, and since Joerg is almost a foot taller than I am, I was barely reaching the pedals until the first yellow flag of my stint. After that, I realized that, with the better tires, that, when I made the pass, I could make it stick. Then I noticed the Ferrari and Corvette were closing, and I needed to get more aggressive. There were a couple points of contact, and I passed him with two wheels off in the dirt. What a race!” said Long.
The Magnussen/O’Connell Corvette was second, and the Auberlen/Milner BMW third.
As the green flag dropped, Wolf Henzler (Germany), the driver who had put the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the front row of the GT grid, did exactly what he did at Sebring – out-accelerate the pole-sitting Ferrari to take first place. He held onto the top spot for his entire stint, out-gunning the competition in the corners and keeping them behind him on the straight-aways. Traffic in the pits caused them to lose several positions during their driver change, and he and co-driver Bryan Sellers (USA) finished sixth.
“Our goal was to have a better finish than Sebring, where we knew the car was fast, but we did not have a great result. We definitely achieved that goal with our sixth-place finish, but we know we had a car that could have easily finished on the podium. We showed that we could run with the leaders in GT, and we look forward to a top finish in a few weeks at Laguna Seca,” said Henzler, the 2008 ALMS GT champion with Bergmeister.
In the overall battle among the newly-merged prototype class entries, Klaus Graf (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA) ran in the top three in the overall event with the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder for the whole race, finishing third behind two former LMP1 cars with their LMP2 racer. Further refinement of the LMP rules could result in an overall victory for the Porsche RS Spyder – owner of 11 such wins – before the end of the season.
Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Juan Gonzales (Mexico) won their second straight ALMS GT Challenge in the Alex Job Racing Mission Foods Porsche 911 GT3 RSR when the team Alex Job Porsche, the Battery Tender entry of Bill Sweedler/Romeo Kapudija, got slightly off line and spun while leading the class with four minutes to go. Leitzinger, a veteran of late-race drama, was pleased to take home the win.
“The combination of these strong Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars and Alex Job’s careful preparation and execution of a race plan make it fun to be with this team. I miss running the prototypes, but it is the team, not the car, that completes the experience. I have spent a lot of my career with a great team – Dyson Racing, and this experience with Alex Job is turning out great as well,” said Leitzinger.
To round out a successful weekend for Porsche Motorsport, both the #6 Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder (LMP) and the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT) earned the Michelin Green X Challenge award, the first time Porsche has swept that honor for both categories. Both cars earned Michelin’s best Green Achievement scores from a formula which measures performance efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and petroleum displacement for both LMP and GT classes.
“It is unbelievable for us to not only win the Long Beach race but the Michelin Green X Challenge, as well, by being both efficient and green,” said Patrick Long, co-driver with Joerg Bergmeister of the GT category winning #45 Flying Lizard Porsche. “We are proud to be with a series, a manufacturer and a team that wants to lead the fight to show that it can be cool to be green and fast.”
Related Porsche Motorsport Posts
Porsches for Sale
Hurley Haywood Inducted Into the Sebring Hall of Fame
[Source: PCNA Motorsport]