American Le Mans SeriesEndurance RacingSportscars

Flying Lizard’s Lime Rock win means title leads all round

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A GT class win at Lime Rock Park gave Flying Lizard Motorsports and Porsche the lead in all three titles in the American Le Mans Series' (ALMS) most competitive class.

Starting from pole Patrick Long – in the car splits with Jorg Bergmeister – kept the lead in the opening exchanges, initially holding off their title rivals in the no.62 Risi entered Ferrari. Long then sacrificed the lead to bring the car to the pits during the first of the races three caution periods, which saw it drop behind the no.61 second Risi entry and the Ford GT of Robertson Racing.

The Ford, however, was soon to drop out, along with the no.62 Ferrari in unrelated incidents which called out the safety car for the second time and promoted Long up to second in the class, the other Risi Ferrari still heading the field as it had yet to pit, passing up the opportunity in the first two cautions.

When the remaining Risi representative did eventually pit the Flying Lizard entry followed it in, Long handed the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR over to Bergmeister, still managing to leapfrog the Ferrari as the choice not to pit before led to a longer fuel fill – a period during which no other work can be done under the series' rules.

An hour long stint by the German saw the car return to the top of class rankings as the varied pit strategies began to unwind, this time the two Rahal Letterman BMWs having to pit under green while running one-two ahead of Bergmeister. Again, a pitstop by the team saw them briefly fall back to second as the pitstop cycles unwound, the no.61 car temporarily assuming the lead before making their own final stop.

All that remained was for Long to hold off the two BMWs for Flying Lizard's third win of the season.

“I had to shift from trying to hold the gap to just keeping the BMWs behind me,” said Long of his final 45-minute stint. “Traffic became my friend – each time I worked through a pack of cars I was able to increase the gap. Then the BMW just behind me would close it again on the straights. But we were better in the corners. I knew I just had to fight to the end and it became all about traffic management. Passing for position in this race would have been really tough. This victory came through our pit work, strategy and racecraft in traffic. Now we need to keep the momentum through the end of the season.”

The victory, and the early retirement of Jaime Melo and Gimmi Bruni on the no.62 car meant Long and Bergmeister assumed the lead in the GT class driver's title, with Porsche and Flying Lizard Motorsports leading by a single point from BMW in the manufacturers' and teams' GT titles.

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