GT – Lizards Lead, Others Chase Into Mid-Ohio

August 5, 2010

GT – Lizards Lead, Others Chase Into Mid-Ohio

August 5, 2010

Flying Lizard won last year at Mid-Ohio and last race at Lime Rock. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

The GT battle is still intense entering Mid-Ohio and just one slip-up could drastically alter aspirations, as several teams discovered last race at Lime Rock. Flying Lizard Porsche and drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took a decisive win, their third of the season, to enter Mid-Ohio with a 14-point lead (93-79) in the driver’s championship over Rahal Letterman BMW’s Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner.

Michelin ALMS technical team leader Karl Koenigstein acknowledged how tight the competition is in GT. “The cars are very closely matched so being able to out-brake or out-accelerate the competition is important to creating and taking advantage of passing opportunities,” he said. “A GT team needs to run a near perfect race in order to win and choosing the right tires and car set-up is critical.”

Flying Lizard has said it is more likely to do better on the more technical tracks at Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio than the more straight-driven, high speed circuits still to come at Road America and Mosport. So adding points at Mid-Ohio to their Lime Rock success is crucial.

Bergmeister and Long spent their off weekends doing what else—racing—at a 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Bergmeister’s team won and Long’s finished second overall, so all in a weekend’s work. The team’s sister No. 44 Porsche has a change this weekend with works Porsche pilot Patrick Pilet filling in for Darren Law alongside team owner Seth Neiman.

BMW’s Auberlen and Milner have been the model of consistency with four podium finishes from five starts this season, including three runner-up finishes. If either the pair of Americans in the No. 92 or Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the No. 90 score Rahal Letterman BMW’s first win this season, it would be fitting to come at their home race (based in nearby Hilliard, Ohio). Mueller won the GT2 class at Mid-Ohio in 2008 driving a Ferrari, and BMW won the class here in the first ALMS race at Mid-Ohio in 2001.

Previous championship leaders Risi Ferrari look for a bounce back weekend after a challenging one at Lime Rock. Not only did Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 62 lose the points lead, but they failed to score points altogether after an early coming together with the No. 3 Corvette then driven by Johnny O’Connell. The failure to finish dropped Melo and Bruni 18 points back of Long and Bergmeister and into a tie for third in points with Hand and Mueller.

Ferrari also fell to third in the hotly contested manufacturer’s championship, but things can change in an instant. Porsche still leads on 93 with BMW just one point back on 92 and Ferrari now on 85. For the third straight race, Risi has enlisted a pair of ace “ringers” to shake up the battle with Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander making their second start in the No. 61 Ferrari, as the team looks for its first Mid-Ohio class win.

Corvette Racing is also looking for a breakthrough weekend. After dominant performances in the GT1 class, Mid-Ohio marks the one-year anniversary of the team premiering its new GT2-specification car. The ZR1 has yet to win and just three podium finishes this season, but pilots O’Connell and Jan Magnussen (No. 3) and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta (No. 4), are determined to change that.

An interesting man to watch this weekend is Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 01 Extreme Speed Ferrari. “JVO” is the only three-time winner in the class at Mid-Ohio (2004, ’06 and ’07), all with Flying Lizard, and has starred in qualifying this season with a pair of front row starts for the new team in the intensely competitive class. Van Overbeek and Scott Sharp are certainly a contender to score the team’s first podium finish.

See also CytoSport on Highcroft’s Heels Entering Mid-Ohio

Latest Photos

Latest Video

Kellymoss provides drivers a path to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship

Friday August 25, 2023