March 17, 2007, 2:05pm ET -- Sebring, Florida -- As we move into hour five of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the two Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsches are P3 (No. 45) and P 16 (No. 44) in the 18-car GT2 field, with the No. 44 behind the wall in the garage for repairs.
The No. 45 started second on the grid, and the No. 44 started 7th. It was an eventful race start for the GT2 group as the larger field jostled for position. On race start, multiple incidents sent several GT2 cars into the pits for repairs. The Lizards kept out of the fray until Darren Law in the No. 44 passed the No. 22 Panoz, and was hit from behind, causing damage to the rear of the Porsche. Darren stayed out, but was eventually forced to pit to allow the crew to repair the rear bumper and make sure there was no other damage.
In the No. 45, Joerg started the race, and went out hard in pursuit of the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning Ferrari, which started in the lead. The No. 31 had to pit early to check damage from the Ferraris’ contact with the No. 71 Tafel car in the first few minutes of the race. That left the No. 73 car , which had moved ahead of Joerg on the start, for him to chase down. Joerg reeled in the No. 73 and passed him, taking the lead within the first 15 minutes of the race.
At the 1 hour mark, Joerg was in P1 in the No. 45 and Darren in P 7, having lost some positions to the No. 44’s repair pit stop. Both cars pitted within minutes of each other, with Johannes van Overbeek taking over for Joerg and Seth Neiman taking over for Darren. Johannes went out in P 2, now behind the No. 62 Ferrari, which would pit later in the race than the No. 45. Neiman was out in P 11.
Over Johannes’ stint, he kept a consistent pace, staying with the No. 62, lapping within a few tenths of the Ferrari the entire time. van Overbeek ran a fast stint, and just after Marc Lieb entered the car for his first stint, he passed the No. 62 Ferrari in the pits, re-gaining the lead. Lieb’s lead stretched to nearly 3 seconds after the Ferrari pitted, and in the closing laps of his first stint, the No. 62 made a clean pass in traffic to regain the lead. Lieb complained of fading tires, but with only a few laps remaining in his stint, team strategist Thomas Blam reassured him that help was on the way in the form of 2006 ALMS GT2 leader Joerg Bergmeister.
At approximately 1:10, the No. 45 pitted for tires, fuel and driver change to Joerg. A few minutes later, the No. 44 was hit by the No. 61 Krohn Racing Ferrari after the Ferrari spun on track, causing a full course caution (the first of the race) to remove the Ferrari from the track. The incident caused major rear suspension damage to Lizard Porsche, which went behind the wall to enable the crew to make repairs.
Because the No. 45 had pitted just prior to the caution, two others in the GT2 field were able to take advantage of the yellow to catch back up to the same lap as Joerg. When the track went green, the No. 71 Tafel Porsche and the No. 32 Ferrari had caught back up with Joerg under yellow. With the No. 62 in P 1, and the No. 45 in P2, P 3 and P 4 cars were now close behind. Over the next 30 minutes, the No. 32 Ferrari was able to pass Joerg, putting the NO. 45 in P 3. At approximately 2 pm ET, Joerg took back the No. 2 position from the No. 32.
Listen to the team radio at this link.
News and lede image used from Flying Lizard Motorsports. Secondary photo used with permission from American LeMans Series. No reuse without their permission.
On a side note, if you haven't listened to the team radio transmission before, you need to give it a try. It's very entertaining.