Sterling pitwork proved the foundation for American Le Man Series (ALMS) team Flying Lizard Motorsports as the 2009 GT2 champions took their first win of 2010.
The team entered two cars, the no.45 for reigning champions Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long with Darren Law and team principal Seth Neiman in the sister no.44 car, and as expected it was the former, with two Porsche works drivers at the wheel which led the team's challenge.
German Bergmeister started the car from fourth on the grid and was able to hold his position over the no.4 Corvette for the first third of the 100 minute race around the Long Beach street circuit, before the Olivier Beretta car was able to pass him, though the Flying Lizard car was soon back into fourth when the Corvette hit the tyre wall.
However, things were not going so well in the sister Porsche 911 RSR for Darren Law, stopping on the track with what was later diagnosed as a driveshaft problem. The stranded car brought out the third and final caution flag of the race, with a majority of the field diving into the pitlane for their mandatory driver change, Patrick Long climbing into the now sole remaining Flying Lizard car.
The teams quick pitwork had allowed Long to leapfrog the three cars – the no.3 Corvette, Falken Porsche and Risi Competizione Ferrari – that had led before the caution, but now had the pair of Rahal-Letterman BMW M3s, though both had decided not to take fresh tyres in their pitstop.
Perhaps regretting that choice Long was soon into second past the no.90 BMW and pressuring the no.92, also contending with the lead battle in the faster LMP class, before eventually slithering past with only ten minutes left to take the win.
“It really came down to a battle of pit stops when most of the GT field pitted under yellow,” said Long of his race-winning stint. “The No. 45 crew was unbelievable – everyone hit their marks and I sailed out of pit lane ahead of most of the rest of the GT field. It made my job so much easier – I was able to focus on the BMWs ahead of me and reel them in. I knew they didn’t have much left in their tires, and was able to get by Joey [Hand]. At the end, Tom [Milner] didn’t make it easy.”
The next race for the team is the six hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 22, before crossing the Atlantic to Le Mans with a single car entry.
Photo credit: Porsche