The Flying Lizard Porsche team heads into Long Beach as one of, if the not favorite in the GT field. Drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long have won the last two years and hope to score the hat trick this year.
While Sebring is unlike any other circuit on the ALMS calendar, the Porsche teams seemed a bit off the pace. A few tweaks to the IMSA Regulations between races and the Porsche’s should be mixing it up with BMW, Ferrari and Corvette teams at Long Beach.
Thomas Blam, Flying Lizard Chief Strategist, took time from of very hectic schedule preparing for Long Beach to answer several questions for OpenPaddock.net . Many thanks to Jennifer Hart at Flying Lizard for making this happen.
OpenPaddock: What did your drivers and engineers learn about this year’s Porsche at Sebring and can Porsche and Flying Lizard Motorsport fans expect any performance upgrades heading into Long Beach?
Thomas Blam, Flying Lizard: Out of all of the ALMS circuits, the environment at Sebring is unique –rough, flat bumpy, sandy – and the setup there is not something that we necessarily repeat at other circuits. At Sebring we were generally happy with the performance of the 2011-spec Porsche, but it was clear that we’ll need to find a bit more in the cars for the rest of the season.
We have a few changes for Long Beach, most notably a 25 kg weight reduction as the Porsches are now allowed to compete at 1220 kgs. [See IMSA BULLETIN #11-07.]
Also, starting at Long Beach, Flying Lizard will be back to E85 fuel. At Long Beach cars that are running E10 have to be 10kg heavier than the standard weight (to compensate for the difference in weight between the amount of fuel on board: the fuel capacity for E85 is 110 liters but for E10 it’s 90 liters – on average E85 has 10 more liters over a stint). [See IMSA Bulletin #11-1]
OpenPaddock: Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long won at Long Beach last year. Does the street circuit suit the Porsche better than Sebring and do you expect to take the race to BMW and Corvette at Long Beach?
Thomas Blam, Flying Lizard: Flying Lizard has historically done very well in street courses; I think the Porsches are well suited to this environment. Patrick and Joerg won Long Beach the last two years in a row and the team has won the last four consecutive ALMS street courses (St. Pete in 2009 and Detroit in 2008).
OpenPaddock: Follow up to the last question, is the GT field showing such parity now where one or two makes will not dominate every race and do you expect the championship to go down to the last race like last season at Road Atlanta?
Thomas Blam, Flying Lizard: Yes, I expect that we could see the championship come down to the last race again, perhaps even the last few laps. GT competition is extremely tough this year; I expect that each race could see any one of 10 different cars on the podium.
OpenPaddock: Last question; Flying Lizard Motorsport is, without doubt, one of the most fan-friendly teams in the ALMS and all racing. Where did that philosophy come from and why?
Thomas Blam, Flying Lizard: That’s great to hear. From the very start, our founder Seth Neiman set out the directive that we were in this business to race and to win, but we also had to keep in mind that we were racing for an audience and we needed to stay open and accessible to our fans. Everyone in the team plays a part in this– from our tire guys to the mechanics to our truck drivers and support staff to the race car drivers. It has definitely made a difference: we feel welcomed and supported by our fans everywhere we go and do our best to reciprocate.
For more on Flying Lizards Motorsports check a very fan friendly web site at http://www.lizardms.com/index.htm