Bergmeister and Long Take GT Championship Lead in the No.45
It was six hours of spectacular racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca tonight as the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche came from an eighth place starting position to take the win in GT, the second win in a row for drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. With the win, the duo takes the GT championship lead. The No. 44 Porsche of Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Timo Bernhard finished 11th in class. The No. 44 started thirteenth on the grid and after recovering from an early race incident with a GTC Porsche, had a nearly problem free race until hour 5. Law could not avoid a spinning Ferrari in front of him and the impact damaged the No. 44’s right side radiator. Although the crew replaced the radiator in the pits, it cost them several laps, leading to an eventual 11th place finish.
The GT competition started full force at the green flag and didn’t let up until the checkered six hours later. The top 7 GT cars remained on the lead lap and less than 20 seconds apart for the first 4 hours of the race. By the end, after 10 cautions, and nearly a quarter of the total field out of the race, it came down to the final laps. At the end of the final caution, the No. 90 BMW was in the lead, Patrick Long in the No. 45 was second, and the No. 4 Corvette was in third – all three nose to tail and less than one second apart. (Just thirty minutes earlier, the No. 45 had given up the lead after its final pit stop.) With three laps to go in the race, on the final restart, Patrick went inside in Turn 11 and overtook the No. 90 to take the lead, holding off the BMW for the final laps as the No. 4 Corvette followed closely behind. The No. 90 finished second, with the No. 4 third. Patrick said, “At the end, I was racing against Joey (Hand) in the BMW. We’ve been competing for more than 15 years – all the way back to our karting days – and I knew he would fight me to the end. During the yellow, the team had to make a decision – would we go for the safe finish and points or for the win, but in the end, we got both. After the last restart, heading into Turn 11, Joey left me three-quarters of a car width, then we went 3 wide into 11. I edged past and then it was about running and I was able to hold on to take the win.”
Bergmeister, who started the race, commented, “Today’s win was really about great teamwork. We didn’t have a good qualifying session and started from eighth. We went into the race knowing that a win here would be very tough to achieve. Thanks to great strategy and pit stops we didn’t have to make up all of those positions on the track, and once we were in the top three, we could see our way to a first place finish. Since Patrick finished the race I was able to watch the last hour from the pits and this was some of the most exciting racing that I’ve been a part of.”
Long added, “The win was that much sweeter since it was at our home track with our sponsors and families cheering us on. It’s pretty early in the year for everyone to be racing at this level of intensity, but I think that just points to what the rest of the season is going to be about. Today was, by far, the most memorable race of my career. It was not only what happened in the last few minutes but the entire race, fighting the BMWs, the Corvettes, the Ferraris- it was healthy, hard racing and a lot of fun.”
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